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Drive File Stream

Does Team Drives + Drive File Stream = File Server?

Drive File StreamLast month, Google (finally) released Drive File Stream. Unlike the Drive Sync Client it replaces, Drive File Stream provides “mapped drive” access to files in Drive. In doing so, you can browse, search, and use Drive like you would any mapped drive through Windows File Explorer and Finder on Macs. By mapping and using a cache, you have access to all of your Drive contents without having to sync all of your content to your device. While you can still select files and folders to sync for offline access, the Drive File Client gives you and your local applications access to your files in Drive.

The Real Value is with Team Drives

As a second improvement over Drive Sync Client, Drive File Stream connects you to both your “My Drive” and “Team Drive” hierarchies. The integration with Team drives, in particular, adds specific value. Team Drives provide file sharing hierarchies that include many traits of a traditional file serves. With Team Drives, the system owns the space and administrators centrally manage permissions. You can grant members of Team Drives limited administrative rights and you can control which members can view, comment, and edit files and folders. Permissions are hierarchical with inheritance pushing permissions down to subfolders and files.

Combining Team Drives and Drive File Stream gives you a “file server like” experiences. You use your local apps, browsing and searching for files in Explorer or Finder. You open, work with, and save files like you do for local files and files on traditional file servers. You manage permission by Team Drive and your folder hierarchy. And while you do not have all of the granularity with Team Drives as you do with a Windows File Server, for example, you have enough to build a managed file service. Because of the differences in permissions granularity, you are more likely to have more Team Drives than you might have top level folders on a traditional file server.

Does Team Drives + Drive File Stream = File Server?

Combining Team Drives and Google File Stream does not give you all of the features and functions of a traditional file server. By creating a managed file service, however, you do have the power to manage access and use of your data and information. And better than a traditional file server, your managed file service will server the needs of user with local, traditional applications and those working in the cloud.


Best Practice: Plan your team memberships and permission, hierarchies, and management strategies before you start building your Managed File Service using Team Drives and Drive File Stream. Contact us for a Cloud Advisory session to discuss your needs and project.


 

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.

Google Drive

Tuesday Take-Away: Google Apps Security Updates

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Most organizations we work with are looking to the cloud for better collaboration, mobile integration, and remote user support. Google’s release of Drive for Work (aka Google Apps Unlimited) in 2014 promised to align Google Apps with user needs and priorities.

Over the past several months, Google has deployed several security and feature enhancements that make Drive a more robust file service. Some are only available with Drive for Work, others apply to all Google for Work domains.

Set Sharing Settings by Department
(Drive for Work / Google Apps Unlimited Only)

Sometimes different file settings make sense. You might, for example, have a research department that needs to keep information confidential and a sales team that needs to share presentations with their clients. To help manage these different sharing needs, now when you make selections in Drive settings from the Admin console, you can turn off sharing outside the domain for one organizational unit, while still allowing others to work and share files with anyone they need to.

Create Custom Drive Alerts / Track More Events with Drive Audit
(Drive for Work / Google Apps Unlimited Only)

To keep track of when specific actions are taken in Drive, you can set up custom Drive alerts. So if you want to know when a file containing the word “confidential” in the title is shared outside the company, now you’ll know. And there are more events coming to Drive audit, including download, print and preview.

Set up custom admin alerts to find out when things change
(All Google for Work Domains)

There are lots of moving parts to running a company, and now it’s easier for IT to find out about the things they care about with custom alerts — like when a new app is installed or a shared calendar is deleted — and get those right in their inbox.

Let people reset their own passwords
(All Google for Work Domains)

Recovering passwords isn’t the most pleasant thing we do in our lives. But now IT can let employees securelyreset their own passwords, so they don’t lose valuable time being locked out of their account. If this doesn’t make sense for your organization, admins can simply turn this ability off.

Disable downloading, printing and copying of any file with IRM
(All Google for Work Domains)

With Information Rights Management (“IRM”) you can disable downloading, printing and copying from the advanced sharing menu – perfect for when the file you’re sharing is only meant for a few select people. This new option is available for any file stored in Google Drive, including documents, spreadsheets and presentations created in Google Docs.

Share quickly with anyone outside your organization
(All Google for Work Domains)

When it comes to sharing, like giving final inventory lists to your caterer or last minute logos to your design agency, you want to make sure people can see it right away — whether they use Drive or not. Now, you canshare with any email address and they’ll be able to view the files you share —without having to sign-in to a Google account. Admins can disable this feature for certain departments that want to require sign-in before , while enabling it for others.

Tuesday Take-Away: Vault Extends to Drive

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To give businesses even more visibility and control over employee files, Google Drive will include enhanced eDiscovery capabilities for Google Apps Vault. Retention policies and legal hold capabilities, similar to those currently available for email and chat, have been extended to cover files in Google Drive. These capabilities help you meet your legal obligations and ensure that employee files are archived and available as long as needed, even if employees delete those files from their Drive.

These new capabilities are in a limited rollout now, with full availability planned for the coming months.

Google Drive

Not Using Google Drive? You Are Not Alone

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CIO Magazine recently published a report claiming that 80% of Google for Work customers with more than 1,000 users are not utilizing Google Drive. The statistic is based on whether or not users worked with Drive at least once per month. This is disappointing given that studies show the powerful benefits realized when the collaborative features of Drive are fully utilized.

While the report does not discuss why Drive adoption is low, we have our suspicions.

Peer-to-peer file services do not scale — not without some help

In Drive (and oneDrive and other cloud file services), users create their own folders and share them with individual and teams. Each user “owns” their space and their files and to find a file, it helps to know who shared it with you. And, without central management, naming conventions, and other controls, it is difficult to control and manage access to sensitive information.  While these file services are not as challenging as Windows for Workgroups (circa 1992), they come pretty darn close.  Users familiar with a central file structure are easily frustrated with peer-to-peer sharing and file services.

“Security” is confused with “Sharing”

Yes, Google recently announced that Ernst & Young has verified the ISO 27018 cloud privacy standard for Google Drive. But when users think of security, they are concerned about sharing — or permissions — of their files. In any cloud file service, it can be difficult to fully understand who will have access to the file you are creating or uploading.  And, the nuances of Google Drive can take time to learn.

For example, when sharing a link for a Google Doc with a person that does not currently have permissions, you are prompted to allow anybody with the link to view (or comment, or edit) the document. If your intended recipient forwards the message, access is available to others outside your original intention.

In Drive, and other similar services, the relationship between exposure (who can see, view, edit the file with or without credentials) and explicit access permissions has a learning curve that is often overlooked.  People will avoid using Drive if they are worried about exposure and permissions.

The rules are a bit different

Google Drive is more flexible, and in many respects more powerful, than traditional Windows and Linux file shares. This power, however, can be distracting to end users. Having multiple documents with identical names in a folder, for example, throws many for a loop. It’s not intuitive given their experience and it can create confusion as to which document is correct or current.

Using Drive and other cloud file services is different, but you can take steps to ease the transition and improve adoption.

Train Your Users: 

Beyond the basic “clicks and drags” of Google Drive, help your users learn and understand how to use Drive effectively. Cover permission settings so they understand how to share safely and with confidence. Discuss document naming and version management, including how to upload new versions of documents without creating duplicates. Help them learn now to navigate drive, use the search bar effectively, and launch applications from within the web interface.

Create a Managed File Service:

With an affordable add-on, you can overlay a more traditional file server structure onto Google Drive. Tools like AODocs File Server, you can add the aspects of a traditional file server to Drive:

  • Central ownership and control of space, top level folders, and folder hierarchies
  • Distributed access and permissions from a central authority
  • Conversion of personal to central ownership of files uploaded to, or created, within centrally managed libraries
  • Inherited permissions
  • Audit trails

Yes, there is a cost, but the value for many companies is much greater.

Manage Your Permissions:

Permissions are not just about user settings.  Permissions should — and can — be driven by your privacy needs and the content of your documents. Tools like BetterCloud and CloudLock give you the ability to monitor and manage user access and permissions based on business rules and content as it is created or uploaded. Analysis for HIPAA, PHI, PCI, and other compliance requirements is built-in, with the ability to create customized rules for your specific needs.

 

With the right tools, and a knowledgeable workforce, you and your team will better adopt and utilize Drive.  And with adoption, comes results.


Please Contact Us if you would like information about any of the services mentioned in this post.


 

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.

 

 

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

Edit MS Office Docs using MS Office from Google Drive

Watch the Demo

Click on the image for the demo!

 

One of the hurdles many face when moving to Google Apps is how to deal with MS Office. Some users feel they cannot live without some of the advanced formatting and features; others are concerned that they receive and work on MS Office documents received from others.

Until now, in order to edit MS Office documents in their native format, users had to download or sync files to their local disk or use the limited editing capabilities of the Chrome browser extension.   Both are less than ideals.

Can you click on a Word doc saved in Drive, have it open in Microsoft Word, and have the file save to Drive?  … YES!  Yes, you can!

With AODocs File Server and the AODocs SmartBar Extension for Chrome, you can use Drive in your Chrome browser, select and edit MS Office files, and have them save directly within Drive.  You can effectively replace Windows Explorer with Drive + AODocs.

Click Here to see a quick demo with Word.  The solution works for Excel and Powerpoint files, too.

Want to know more? Contact Us for a 1:1 demo of the full AODocs File Server solution.

Drive vs Docs = New Google URLs

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Google Drive and Google Docs are no longer the same thing.  As Google expanded the file service capabilities of Drive, Docs and Drive were separated to better reflect Docs as the office productivity tools and Drive as the secure file service.

Recently, Google made changes to ensure this distinction is evident in the URLs we use to access these services.

  • drive.google.com still points to Google Drive, and drive.google.com/a/<domain> still takes you to your Google Drive page
  • docs.google.com will soon point to a new Google Docs homepage that takes you directly to the Google Doc apps

We recommend updating your bookmarks as well as your custom URL mappings.

If you need a hand with your custom URL mappings, please let us know.

5th of 5: More Ways to Collaborate in Google Apps

Hangouts Icon
Google Apps is designed for secure sharing and collaborations.  Many users, however, still rely on the back-and-forth of email to get their work done.  Here is the 5th of 5 other ways to collaborate in Google Apps.

Use Google Drive with Google Hangouts

Google Hangouts is more than a basic, HD quality, audio and video conferencing system. Hangouts let you conduct one-to-one and group video and chat sessions from your desk, laptop, tablet, or smart phone.

Some project managers  have team members join a Hangout, mute themselves to work independently, and unmute when they need to integrate with team members.

Install the Google Drive script for Google Hangouts and team members can review, edit, and discuss documents during the video meeting.

Enable your team to do more with Google Apps and get more done.  They will thank you!  Contact us to learn about self-paced, live, and custom training options.