As more organizations expand their use of Google Apps beyond email into file services, the question of how to best use Google Drive becomes important. In a previous post, we compared centralized versus distributed use of additional storage.
For many organizations, the question remains as to how best to integrate Google Drive and Additional Storage with existing, legacy apps on servers and client systems. Beyond whether or not MS Office stays around, companies often have other systems that run locally using local disk or network drives.
The Google Drive client provides and easy, free, means to sync local data storage with Google Drive and Storage. The utility, however, has a few limitations:
- Synchronization of files happens between the My Drive hierarchy in the Google Apps Cloud and a local “Google Drive” folder. While you can select where the “Google Drive” folder lives, you cannot map existing folders.
- Users must know where to find and save documents they want synchronized between local disk space and Google Drive.
- You cannot select specific folders in Google Drive to synchronize down to the client.
- If a folder is “shared with” a user in Google Drive, the user needs to “move” it under “My Drive” for it to sync to their local disk.
While not a reason to avoid using Google Apps as a file service, using the Google Drive client limits how you deploy your solution and creates some training elements.
Our recommendation is to create a file service using Google Drive that keeps the look and feel of a traditional file service for the end users. Doing so mitigates training and migration issues and avoids a range of technical issues related to supporting legacy applications.
Look for a solution that offers:
- A server-specific synchronization tool that does not interfere with existing drive mappings and/or shared network folders.
- The ability to specify specific folders in Google Drive and/or locally for synchronization.
- The ability to provide gateway access to cloud-only storage that looks and feels like traditional network disk space.
- Client applications that run on Windows, Mac, and popular smart phone platforms.
- That can connect to multiple cloud storage solutions, giving you flexibility in how you configure primary, secondary, and/or archive storage.
While you may spend a few dollars per user per year to get the environment you want, you will see returns. You should be able to extend the life or retire existing server hardware. With direct access to files, you should be able to reduce (or eliminate) your remote access solutions and/or VPN services, thereby reducing administration, licensing, and support costs. And best of all, improved collaboration and secure access to information means better productivity for your team and better business results.