Not Using Google Drive? You Are Not Alone

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.


That Time Your Security Company Sold You Out

Privacy Button
As recently reported in Wired magazine, security firm AVG is updating its privacy policy and openly telling customers of its free services that it will sell some of the personal, non-identifying information about you to third parties. The new policy takes effect on October 15, 2015 and while the data may not identify you personally, it will certainly give advertisers, scammers, and hackers a clear idea of who you are and which of your interests they may be able to exploit.

As the policy states:

“We collect non-personal data to make money from our free offerings so we can keep them free, including:

  • Advertising ID associated with your device
  • Browsing and search history, including meta data
  • Internet service provider or mobile network you use to connect to our products
  • Information regarding other applications you may have on your device and how they are used.”

Granted, AVG gets credit for being upfront and honest.

But do you want your security software giving others your browser and search history, a list of applications on your devices, and a history of how you are using your apps?

The Advertising ID being shared means that so long as you have AVG on your device, third parties will know it is you even if they do not know specifically who you are (yet!).

Free is not free.  Lesson Learned.  AVG is telling you that in exchange for free security software, they will sell information about you to people that will use that information to advertisers, marketers, and those will try to scam you, steal your identity, and get you to bypass the very security you want to maintain.

Yes, you can upgrade to AVG’s paid services, but is this a company you still want to trust? Maybe it’s time for a new solution and a realization that even in IT, you get what you pay for.

If you prefer an endpoint security solution form a trusted vendor, contact us to discuss solutions or visit our web site for more information.


Not a Good Time? Do it Now Anyway!

Working with small and mid-size enterprises, one of the challenges we see is time. Stating the incredibly obvious, time is often a commodity in short supply  and your company’s leaders may struggle to manage it well.  The result, we often hear something along the lines of:

“We are definitely going forward, but …”

Sometimes, there are other projects that need to finish first. Sometimes, it’s your busy season. Sometimes, it is just too difficult to schedule meetings with all of the people that need to be there.

Let’s face facts: It is never the “perfect”, “right”, or “most convenient” time to make changes to your IT systems.

Your business — your team — will always be in the middle of something that should not be disrupted. Whenever you decide to move forward, you will be busy and you will risk some disruption.

Do not let the fear of disruption prevent you from gaining the advantages change.

In a recent study by Forrester, and in conversations with our customers, moving IT infrastructure and apps into the cloud has measurable impacts.

  • Better collaboration saves knowledge workers ~2 hours per week
  • Review and acceptance of documents takes 20% to 60% less time
  • Chat and video reduces travel expenses by up to 70%
  • Mobile access enables shorter sales cycles, by as much as 22%

Often times, we see how modernizing IT services via cloud solutions can improve workflows and access to information, thereby reducing the backlog and some of the “busy-ness” of the team.

Facing challenges and armed with the facts, many small business leaders still put off changes, hoping a “better time” will arrive.

Let’s face reality: your business will probably never reach that elusive (maybe even mythical) “right” time to make IT changes. By waiting, you prolong the problems and the frustration of your staff. You are missing the opportunity to improve to very systems that are contributing to your challenges.

If there is never going to be a “right” time, why not move forward now?




You Win in Microsoft’s $129 Billion Give-Away

Windows 10 Logo
At this summer’s Worldwide Partner Conference, several Microsoft executives mentioned that they expect 1 billion users to download the Windows 10 for free.  With a “street price” of about $129, this equates to $129 billion give-away. The cynics among us might argue that this is a great strategic play for Microsoft as a way to maintain its customers base amid increasing competition from other operating platforms, including Chrome, Linux, Android, and iOS.

You, however, are the real winner in this give-away. And here is why …

  • Windows 10 is the first Microsoft operating system that is truly a single environment across all hardware platforms, from servers to smartphones. For software developers, it means that apps written for Windows 10 easily run across mobile and traditional (desktop and server) platforms.
    • You win: Expect better functional and operational equivalence for applications; no more waiting for phone and tablet versions to catch up to the desktop version.

  • Windows 10 is the first Microsoft operating system that is truly network-first. Microsoft has made a huge shift to a cloud-first, mobile-first strategy, and Windows 10 is part of this shift. Network services now launch with the core operating system, not as a service later in the boot cycle.
    • You win: Expect faster boot times as your networked and cloud apps will no longer ‘sit and spin’ while waiting for the network to come online.

  • Windows 10 is the first Microsoft operating system designed to evolve. The age of the monthly updated and periodic service packs is coming to an end. Microsoft will update, patch, and enhance Windows 10 as part of a continuous process. While domain system managers can still control when different types of updates propagate, updates will now happen “when ready and when needed”.
    • You win: Expect more feature and capability enhancements and a more secure/robust environment, as Windows 10 will more nimbly adapt to changing needs.

  • Windows 10 is the first Microsoft operating system with a user interface that matches user preferences. Let’s face it, Windows 8.x was a great experiment in a mobile-friendly user interface that was welcomed with mixed results. Windows 10, however, gives users the option of creating the environment that is most effective from them. Yes, you still have live tiles. But you also have desktops (yes, more than one if you want).
    • You win: Expect to create efficient workspaces for your different roles and tasks.  Separate desktop environments (including settings and apps) for personal versus work activity on your laptop. Customize desktops for different roles you may fill — manager, finance, marketing, operations — throughout your workday. In short, create environments that make life easier for you, and switch between them as y0u see fit.

With these firsts, and others, Microsoft is demonstrating that it “gets” the new cloud and mobile centric world order and  that Microsoft is ready to be a significant player. Microsoft’s Office 365 and Azure services, and many others from many vendors, are already moving to leverage the new capabilities of Windows 10. Regardless of your overall strategy, you should be prepping to move your Windows ecosystem to Windows 10.

Interested in discussing your go to strategy for Windows 10 and the cloud? Drop us a note; we are happy to listen, learn, and share.


Introducing Coffee and Clouds

Clouds in Coffee
One of the challenges we see with cloud computing is the growing complexity of options and solutions, particularly for small and mid-size enterprises.  It’s not as easy as going IaaS, PaaS, and SaaS and deciding on public, private, or hybrid anymore.  Most businesses are finding their path to the cloud is a mix of solutions.

Relax, grab a cup, and join us for some clarity.

We are launching a new series of live and web events, Coffee and Clouds, where we aim to help clear out the clutter. We will help you keep abreast of the market, technologies, and best-practices, and give you an opportunity to network with your peers.  Forget about hype, we will focus on actionable ideas and tangible results. And, we will plan content in response to your feedback.

Our first set of live events are already on our events calendar.  Learn more about the series and register today.

Cumulus Global Grows In Southern New England with New Haven Office

We are proud to announce the opening of a regional office in New Haven, Connecticut in response to the expanding interest in, and demand for, business-effective cloud solutions and services across Connecticut and Southern New England. Located at The Grove New Haven, Cumulus Global’s new office will connect us, our industry-recognized services, and our best-of-breed cloud solutions with small and mid-size businesses and local governments throughout the region.

“With this new office, we are better able to meet the needs of area businesses,” notes Allen Falcon, CEO of Cumulus Global. “While we are national in scope, our New Haven office gives us better insights into the local economies within Connecticut and helps us better respond to the needs and priorities of our clients.”

A Microsoft Silver Cloud Partner and Google Premier Partner, Cumulus Global focuses on their customers’ results — helping small and mid-size enterprises enhance, augment, or even replace their current IT systems with more productive and cost-effective solutions. Cumulus Global has seen rapid growth over the past few years, landing at #914 on the 2015 Inc. 5000 list of Fastest Growing Private Companies in America. 

“The Grove and New Haven give us a great location for serving Connecticut and Southern New England,” stated Falcon. “In addition to the local connections we will foster, we have a great space for events through which businesses can learn about cloud computing and trending IT issues while networking with peers.”

As a cloud solutions provider, Cumulus Global focuses on bringing cloud and hosted solutions into the IT mix for small and mid-size enterprises. As such, Cumulus Global works with and complements — rather than replacing — customers’ existing IT resources.  This cooperative strategy helps customer gain the most value from their IT spending.