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Partner for Productivity

Partnering for G Suite Productivity

Partner for ProductivityG Suite is more than an email, calendar, and simple file sharing service.  G Suite is a productivity suite that serves as a platform for a range of tools that helps your team, and your business, work more effectively.

9 ways your team can be more productive with G Suite:

  1. Share Files, Not Copies:
    Stop sending attachments. Stop wasting time figuring out of the copy of the file in you inbox, on your local drive, or on a shared folder is the most current. Whether you use Google Docs for creating documents, spreadsheets, and presentations or you continuing using Microsoft Office, Google Drive and Team Drives serves your files rather than just sharing them.  People share via link, so all comments, suggestions, and edits are made within a single copy of the file. Versioning keeps this orderly and gives you the ability to look back and compare.
  2. Serve Files, Not File Servers:
    Use Team Drives and Drive File Stream to provide users with “explorer” access to files from Macs, PCs, and local software. Store files under central ownership and managed permissions; avoid performance and capacity problems with unlimited storage. Allow team members to work remotely and securely on computers, tablets, and mobile devices without VPNs and remote desktop services slowing things down.
  3. Communicate, Don’t Just Text:
    Most laptops now have microphones, speakers, and Bluetooth features similar to your smartphones and tablets. Have face to face conversations using Hangouts Meet instead of long email threads, phone tag, or text messaging. Communication is 55% non-verbal. Let you employees see and hear each other, your vendors, and your customers. You can share screens to live document reviews and discussions. Why pay extra for a conferencing service?
  4. Collaboration, Don’t Just Comment:
    True, Google Docs allow contributors to comment and suggest edits. You can also collaborate in real-time or as each participant is able. Version history lets you look back at who contributed, when, and where. You can name versions to track official revisions or specific working copies of documents.
  5. Schedule Productivity, Not Just Appointments:
    Your personal and shared calendars track your time as well as project or team activities. Resource calendars let you book rooms or any scheduled resource. Integrated with Hangout Meets, automatically include voice and video conferencing for the human touch. Integrated with Chrome for Meetings and you have 1-click video conferencing with screen sharing in your conference rooms.
  6. Manage Customer Relationships, Not Data:
    Integrated CRM applications, automatically pull person and company data into your CRM records and automatically track inbound and outbound emails with your prospects. Side panel gives you “pane of glass” access and context from within your Gmail inbox.
  7. Manage Communications, Not Data:
    Integrated sales and marketing tools, empower you team to better manage marketing, sales, and service communications without leaving your Gmail inbox.  Templates, mail merge, and tracking save time and energy as you drive your sales pipeline forward.
  8. Automate Tasks, Not People:
    Automate workflows and repetitive tasks, and build simple apps to boost productivity with AppMaker. The Low-code/no-code tool means you don’t need a cadre of programmers. Free up task time for more valuable activities.
  9. Protect Your Business; Not Just Data:
    Compliant archiving and e-discovery covers your email communications and your documents. Integrated solutions provide third party backup/recovery protection from accidental or intentional damage and loss. Cloud-to-cloud backup is less costly and requires less admin effort than traditional file server protection services.

Get the most value from your G Suite platform:

  • Verify you are on the right version of G Suite, with the capabilities that best meet your needs
  • Help your team learn how to use the G Suite apps to their fullest
  • Integrate 3rd party solutions for line of business needs, such as marketing, sales, and service

Please contact us for a free Cloud Advisor session to discuss getting the most value from G Suite.


 

Google Drive

Picking the Right Google Drive Client

Google DriveToday is the day that Google makes Drive File Stream generally available to all G Suite users. As of December 11, 2017, Google will fully deprecate and end support for the old Google Drive Client that has, up until now, provided users with the ability to sync and share files between Drive and their devices. Recently, Google also released Backup and Sync.

Which Drive Client is Right for You?

Briefly, Backup and Sync is a personal utility that Google has publicly classified as a “consumer” tool. Drive File Stream is a support part of G Suite and is designed for business users. For most businesses, even small businesses, Drive File Stream will be best. While Drive File Stream will not let you sync other local folders, it will provide “native drive” access to both My Drive and Team Drives. This style of access gives you nearly universal access to files in Drive from local applications, without large sync directories and large local storage demands.

A Deeper Look

Feature Drive File Stream Backup and Sync
Access files in My Drive Y Y
Access files in Team Drives Y
Stream files on demand Y
Sync only selected folders in My Drive Y Y
Sync only individual files in My Drive Y
Use native applications like MS Word and Photoshop Y Y
Sync other folders, such as Documents or Desktop Y

Better Look and Feel

Drive File Stream will have a new look on your local machine, instead of syncing between a “Google Drive” folder and My Drive, Drive File Stream will appear as a local disk:

  • Mac: Google Drive appears in Finder under Devices
  • Windows 7: Google Drive appears in Explorer as a mounted drive under My Computer and Favorites
  • Windows 10: Google Drive appears in Explorer as a mounted drive under This PC and Quick Access

Sync & Share

You will still be able to flag folders (and individual files!) for sync to the local disk for offline and high-performance access.

Google Drive

Team Drives Launches for G Suite Business, Enterprise, & Education

Google DriveMost file storage solutions weren’t built to handle the explosion of files that are now created and shared in the cloud — because they were initially designed for individuals, not teams. With this amount of shared data, admins need more controls to keep their data safe and teams need to feel confident working together. Team Drives deliver the security, structure and ease-of-use enterprises need by making it easy to:

  • Add new team members. You can manage team members individually or with Google Groups and give them instant access to relevant Team Drives.
  • Keep track of your files if a team member leaves. Team Drives are jointly owned by the team, which means that anything added to Team Drives stays there no matter who comes or goes. Whirlpool Corporation, for example, uses Team Drives to manage file access. Says Troy McKim, Collaboration Principle at Whirlpool Corporation, “If you place files for a project in Team Drives, you don’t have to worry about losing them or moving them when files are re-owned.”
  • Understand and manage sharing permissions. Team members automatically see the same files regardless of who adds or reorganizes them. You can also manage share permissions by defining the restrictions for editing, commenting, reorganizing or deleting files.
  • Manage and view Team Drives as an admin. Admins can see Team Drives for a user and add new members if necessary: “Team Drives also ease the speed at which a team member can onboard and become effective in their new role,” says McKim.

Team Drives are now generally available to all of our G Suite Business, Education, and Enterprise customers.

Our First eBook: 7 Policies for Every Company Using Drive

Cover.7 Policies for Every Company Using Drive
We are please to announce the launch of our new eBook series with the publication of 7 Policies for Every Company Using Drive. Based on one of our most popular 3T@3 Webcasts, this eBook discusses information privacy and security issues and policies that should be in place to protect your customers, your information, and your business.

Our new eBook series is part of our growing suite of resources intended to help educate and inform on topics related to Cloud Computing for Small and Mid-Size Businesses.

Click here to access the eBook.

 

 

Define the Role of Your Cloud File Service

Experts Exchange.Standard.200

This blog post is a reprint of an article first published on Experts Exchange as part of a series on cloud strategies and issues for small and mid-size businesses.

 


Cloud file services can fill many different roles for your business. Often, the use of cloud file services begins with employees using consumer products, like Dropbox, to share files with customers and each other. While sync-and-share can be an effective way to manage files, you should always rely on the business editions to ensure that the business is in possession of, and is managing, your data.

That said, this use of sync-and-share tends to be transient in nature. At the other end of the spectrum, many businesses are replacing on-premise servers, NAS, and SANs with cloud file services, which become the primary file service.
To help you plan how to create the best file service for your business, consider these working definitions and considerations with respect to data protection and management.

Transient File Service

  • Transient file services are used occasionally for storage and sharing of files.
  • Often a sync-and-share service (Dropbox, box.net, etc) or a peer-to-peer service (Drive, etc.), files are copied to the file service and shared.
  • In most cases, files sync back, or are manually copied, to their primary location. As the primary location for files is protected by backups and permissions management, transient file service generally don’t need or have backup protection.
  • Permissions management is often the responsibility of the individual users. As such, transient file services should not be used for sensitive or protected (PHI, PCI, etc) information.

Secondary File Service

  • A Secondary File Service will fill the role that the Transient File Service provides, but will also be the home — the system of record — for some information.
  • Companies create Secondary File Services to handle information that is used collaboratively, but wants to keep internally-used data and critical business information in-house. An architecture firm, for example, might have active projects residing in a cloud file service while keeping past project data and internal operations (HR, finance, accounting, strategy) on in-house systems.
  • While sync-and-share can serve the needs of secondary file server, peer-to-peer and managed file services provide better control over your data.
  • As a Secondary File Service will be the system-of-record for important information (i.e., the data is not synced or copied to other storage), these file services should be protected by Backups.
  • Secondary File Services may or may not be used for sensitive or protected information. If they are, then active permissions monitoring and management is advised to prevent inappropriate disclosures, leaks, or breaches.​

Primary File Service

  • A Primary File Service becomes the system of record for most, if not all, of your company’s files and data. As such, the cloud file service will hold sensitive and protected data.  Access, permissions, and protection are as critical in the cloud as they are on-premise.
  • Backup/recovery and active permissions management become critical components for ensuring data reliability, security, and privacy, and may be required for regulatory or industry compliance.
  • While smaller businesses can use the peer-to-peer, larger businesses or those with larger numbers of files find that a managed and structured file service works better.
  • Centralized ownership and control over permissions improves security and efficiency.
  • Sync-and-share services may still be used to support off-line work, but should be managed closely to ensure sensitive and protected data remains secure.
 Hybrid File Service
  • A Hybrid File Service exists when the Primary File Service is split between on-premise servers and cloud-based file services.  A Hybrid File Service differs from the use of a Secondary File Service in that the Hybrid File Service sees both on-premise and in-cloud as equal components of the ecosystem. Data location is based on access needs and usage rather than on the type of data.
  • For some organizations, Hybrid File Services represent a transition period from on-site to cloud file services. For others, Hybrid File Services reflect a broader hybrid cloud strategy that mixes SaaS and IaaS services with on-premise systems.
  • As Hybrid File Services create a cloud-based extension of on-premise servers, a managed file service with central ownership and permissions control is most often the best structure.
  • With a Hybrid File Service, the cloud component requires backup/recovery and permissions protection on-par with your in-house servers.

By understanding and defining the role of your cloud file services, you have a better understanding of the type of service to use — sync-and-share, peer-to-peer, or managed file services. You can also best determined the level of backup/recovery, access, permissions, and encryption you want and need to meet your business’ needs and any regulatory or industry requirements.


To learn more watch our 3T@3 Webcast from May 2015, Designing a Cloud File Service, or contact us with your questions or interest.


 

Consider Cloud File Services


When we talk to businesses about moving into the cloud, we often focus on the cloud-based, managed file services. We see how trendy file sync-and-share services have become as IT continues its love-hate relationship with consumerization.  We also see how simply putting a traditional file server in a cloud-hosted environment does not reap the benefits many expect.

For us, a managed cloud file service provides users with secure access to files in a central service, from any Internet-connected device.  “Managed” means that your IT admins and/or data managers are able to monitor and control the access rights, exposures, permissions, and ownership of information stored within the service. “Managed” also means your data is protected from user error (or intention) as well as hardware/software issues.

While file-sync-and-share is one type of cloud file service, it is not the only form of cloud file service. 

As you think of how to best move file storage into cloud file services, consider your business and technical needs.

File-sync-and-share is easy to deploy, but implies that you will have multiple copies of data on different devices, each of which will then require protection.  File-sync-and-share also creates a peer-to-peer sharing service, in which users can get lost among shared folders and unclear ownership.

Other peer-to-peer solutions, including OneDrive and Google Drive, can cause similar user confusion as the number of users, or the number of documents, increases.  And while peer-to-peer file services where the rage back in 1998 with the release of Windows for Workgroups, most businesses have been running on centralized file servers for at least the past decade.

A managed cloud file service can provide a working environment similar to an on-premise file server. When structured properly a managed cloud file service can provide:

  • A single location for data (no need to replicate to local machines)
  • Centralized ownership of file space, libraries, and directory hierarchies
  • Centralized administration of access rights and permissions, by user or group
  • The ability to provide shared folders/directories for company, department, or project team work, along with personal folders/directories for individual activities
  • Unified search across shared and individual file spaces
  • Secure access from any device — PC, Mac, iOS, Android, Chrome, etc.
  • Administrative ability to monitor and audit permissions and access by individuals and applications
  • Data protection in the form of versioning and backup/recovery systems
  • Integration of additional metadata, document management, and workflow management tools to reinforce and accelerate business processes

If your cloud storage is not giving you the advantages of a managed cloud file service, let us know. We are happy to review your environment and suggest alternatives.

 

 

Beyond reducing

Other Reasons to use Drive for Work

apps_for_work_256-colorWhen most of our clients compare Google Apps for Work with Drive for Work, they focus on the two most visible differences:

  • Drive for Work gives you unlimited Drive storage, instead of the 30GB per user for Gmail and Drive in Google Apps for Work.
  • Drive for Work includes Google Apps Vault for email (and, in the future, document) archiving and e-discovery services.

While these differences are enough for many companies to step up to Drive for Work, some of the less visible differences may prove more valuable in the long term.

Expanded Reporting

Google Apps for Work offers a limited number of audit and admin reports that cover basic statistics about user accounts and activities.  Drive for Work, already has an extended suite of admin and audit reports, giving you greater visibility into how various services are being used, including configurable audit reports for Drive.

Expanded APIs

Most companies will never program to the Google Apps Application Program Interfaces (APIs). Third party administration, security, and productivity applications, however, rely on these APIs to access and manage data in Google Apps. With Google’s commitment to expand the API suite for Drive for Work, third party applications, including BetterCloud, CloudLock, Backupify and others, will offer additional features and services with Drive for Work than they can with Apps for Work. As a customer, you get a more robust computing environment.

Granted, these additional capabilities alone may not, today, warrant the additional cost of Drive for Work. Yet, these features are indicative of a trend for broader features and investment in Drive for Work. If you need or want archiving and/or additional storage and are considering a la carte upgrades, consider the strategic impact of expanded reporting and APIs. They may just tip the scales in favor of Drive for Work.

 

Professional Services Help Schools Manage Google Drive for Education

google drive
With Google’s (GOOG) announcement of Google Drive for Education, schools using Google Apps for Education will have unlimited Drive storage and the Vault archive/ediscovery service for free.  To help schools deploy, configure, and use Vault successfully, Cumulus Global (www.cumuluglobaleducation.com) today announced an expansion of its Vault EDU Services. Cumulus Global’s Vault EDU Services are a set of professional services designed and priced for schools and districts.

Vault EDU Services include:

  • Service Activation
    • Best practice settings and configuration
    • Matching configuration and retention periods to policies and regulations
    • Ensuring data is not improperly removed
  • Admin Training
    • A 1:1 session focused on configuration, search, and discovery
  • Vault Support
    • Assistance with investigative matters
    • Execution of discovery with affidavits for chain of custody

“Having deployed Vault for hundreds of schools and districts, we understand the importance of proper setup and configuration”, stated Falcon.  “And since eDiscovery is a feature that tends to be used occasionally and as-needed, we can help ensure searches and matters are handled effectively.” Vault EDU Services are part of Cumulus Global’s expanding range of services for K-12 education.

Schools can learn more at http://www.cumulusglobaleducation.com/deploy.

 


About Cumulus Global and our Solutions for Education Cumulus Global is Cloud Solutions Provider and a Google Apps Premier Reseller, helping small and mid-size businesses, non-profits, governments, and educational institutions move from in-house systems to cloud computing solutions. Our solutions for education, http://www.cumulusglobaleducation.com, help schools Deploy cloud solutions, Gear Up their technology, and Transform the learning process.

 

Google Drive for Education: A Game Changing Upgrade for Schools

google drive

With Google’s announcement of Google Drive for Education, Google is bringing the power of Google Apps Unlimited to schools for free.

With Google Drive for Education, schools
and districts get:

  • Google Apps for Education
    • All of the email, communication, and collaboration features you know and love
  • Unlimited Drive
    • Infinite storage to encourage content development and collaboration
  • Google Apps Vault
    • Archive and discovery of all Gmail and, in the near future, Drive content
  • Audit Capabilities
    • Administrative rights and tools to track usage
  • Advanced Controls
    • Tools to add more visibility and control for domain administrators

We have more information about Drive for Education here, as well as answers to the most frequently asked questions.

Security Breach? There are Apps for That

 

security-checkHere’s a Story …

Emily tells Dan about a cool app on her iPhone that helps her stay organized when she is out of the office.  Dan looks it up and downloads it to his Android phone.  The App is cheap and has great reviews.  When Dan installs the app, he gets a screen about permissions with only a few items listed.  He scans the list.  Dan is not a techie and the list seems reasonable; he clicks “Allow” and the installation finishes.  Dan uses the app and is happy.  Over the next few weeks, Dan has trouble finding docs he saved in Google Drive.  Some were uploaded Word and PDF files, while others were created in Google Docs and Sheets. Asking IT for help, they find some documents in the trash, others appear gone for ever.

Here’s the Lesson …

When Dan installed his cool new app, he granted the app full access to the content of his Google Drive account and to other content in Google Apps.  The app had a bug (we do not want to assume malice) that set all of Dan’s files to public on a periodic basis.

Third party applications, including mobile apps, create a security and privacy risk for your Google Apps environment.

Here’s the Offer …

Partnering with CloudLock, we will conduct a Google Apps Security Health Check for your Google Apps for Business or Government Domain.  Normally costing $1,000 to $5,000 (or more!), through September 30, 2014, we will perform the check for $300 (or less!).

Please click here for more information or to request your Google Apps Security Health Check.