Most people think of Google Drive, Dropbox and OneDrive as pure cloud storage, but these platforms also offer features that make day-to-day collaboration between employees much easier. Read on to learn the details and which cloud platform is right for your business!
In the past, data storage was traditionally premise-based with a dedicated server, but most organizations have moved to the cloud for many good reasons, including cost, flexibility and security.
This includes the ‘big three’ that Gartner places in their 2018 Magic Quadrant — Google Drive, DropBox, and OneDrive. In fact, Gartner estimates that by 2022, 50% of midsize and large organizations will use a "content collaboration platform" to improve employee efficiency and productivity.
So let's dive in and take a look at the big three!
Google Drive for Work - Great Price, Great Features
Google builds on the popularity of their Google Drive (over 800 million users in 2017) by adding more storage and functionality to their Google Drive for Work business solution.
For $10 per user per month, Google’s business solution offers all the collaboration and document management features of Google Drive and adds secure archiving, greater administrative control and unlimited storage if you have five or more users.
Google Drive makes file sharing and collaboration easy. You can share individual files or entire folders, and modify settings to make files visible to specific users or groups. Google also allows you to edit Excel, Word or Powerpoint files without converting them — a great feature that saves time and reduces complexity.
There is a wide range of third-party applications compatible with Google Drive for Work, and Google makes their API public for companies wishing to customize their own Google Drive experience. Of course, you need an in-house technical expert to do this, but if you don't you can always take a look at outsourced IT services to get the job done.
Google Drive functions best when used in concert with Google’s productivity applications. This may lessen its appeal for those using other productivity tools, such as Microsoft Office 365, or those simply looking for a document management solution.
Another Google shortcoming is the lack of project and task management tools with Google Drive. These minor quibbles are offset, however, by Google Drive’s superior offline capabilities which set it apart from OneDrive and Dropbox.
Add in unlimited storage and excellent third-party integrations to the equation, and Google Drive is a compelling choice for cloud content collaboration.
Google Drive might be right for you if:
- You are using the Google application suite
- You work extensively offline
- You need unlimited storage
You may want to consider other options if:
- You need project or task management
- You’re using other productivity tools such as Word or Excel
- You have stringent cyber security requirements
Dropbox Business - Does It Make The Grade?
An early leader in the cloud content collaboration space, Dropbox remains popular with business users based on its excellent cloud storage and file sharing capabilities.
The standard Dropbox Business plan is priced at $12.50 per month (but for a minimum of three users) and offers unlimited storage, unlimited deletion and version history, and a wide range of collaboration tools.
Dropbox stands out for its simple user interface, both on its web and mobile applications. It allows documents to be shared in multiple ways — by placing them in a common team folder, setting them as ‘public,’ or restricting and password-protecting them.
Dropbox also supports a wide range of third-party applications and, like Google, provides its API for customer integration. Most organizations will want to take advantage of IT consultant services before they embark on that project!
A unique feature of Dropbox is Smart Sync, which allows you to view and access Dropbox documents directly from your desktop, saving local storage space and speeding access to cloud files.
Unlike Google or Microsoft, Dropbox doesn’t provide an applications suite, and online editing is not available. Instead, when you attempt to open a file, you’re redirected to Microsoft Office 365 online — if you don’t have an account, you’ll be asked to sign up for one.
Dropbox has partially addressed this issue with the roll out of Dropbox Paper, which allows you to create, edit, and comment on documents. While promising, Paper doesn’t take the place of full application suites like those offered by Microsoft or Google.
With a large and devoted user base, a simple interface and a wide range of compatible applications, Dropbox Business remains a popular choice for cloud storage and document management.
However, its 3-user minimum pricing provides less flexibility than Google and Microsoft, and its lack of a complete applications suite limits its current capabilities as a true content collaboration platform.
Dropbox Business might be right for you if:
- You want a simple, proven cloud storage solution
- You prefer a simple, easy-to-use interface
- You’re looking for a wide range of applications compatibility
You may want to consider other options if:
- You want integrated productivity tools and in-tool editing
- You’re looking for the lowest price and pricing flexibility
Microsoft OneDrive - Top Notch Office Integration
OneDrive is not new — it’s been around for years under other names like SkyDrive and FolderShare, and, according to Microsoft, is used by over 85% of Fortune 500 companies.
Included with Office 365 and SharePoint, OneDrive is a mature offering with an easy-to-use interface, excellent reliability and complete integration with Windows 10 and Office 365.
At $60 annually for one terabyte of storage or $120 for unlimited storage, OneDrive is cheaper on a per-user basis than DropBox. Note these are storage-only options — bundled with Office 365, OneDrive comes in at $150 annually, including one terabyte of storage.
Where OneDrive shines is with its seamless integration with Office Online, including Word, Excel, OneNote, and Powerpoint. Also, with an API open to developers since 2015, OneDrive supports a wide range of third-party tools and applications.
File sharing with OneDrive is simple to learn and involves just a few ‘point and clicks.’ However, a challenge for users who edit and share a lot of documents is the inability to view tracked changes for shared documents using Word Online — to see changes, you must use the desktop version of Word. This issue alone may lead some users to seek an alternative.
Another hurdle involves document size limitations. OneDrive for Business doesn’t support file sizes greater than 15GB, making it unwieldy to share and edit large video and multimedia files. The lack of support for Linux may also be a challenge for some organizations.
Of course, if you utilize an IT consultant who works for a reputable Managed IT Service Provider, your Office 365 price per user could be even lower. You also enjoy unlimited customer support for any IT troubles that arise, with 24x7 help desk support.
Overall, OneDrive gets our top marks as a cloud content collaboration platform — it’s feature-rich, well-priced, and simple to use. Particularly in Microsoft environments, or if you have an MSP, it’s tough to beat!
Microsoft OneDrive might be right for you if:
- You have a Windows or Office 365 environment
- You need a mature, feature-rich platform that’s easy to use
- You’re interested in bundling with other Managed Cloud IT Services
You may want to consider other options if:
- You primarily share and edit a lot of text documents
- You need to share files over 15 GB
- You need support for Linux
What About On-Premises Content Platforms?
Despite the rapid adoption of cloud-based collaboration platforms, there is still a place for their more traditional, premises-based counterparts. When combined with the expertise of a Managed IT services provider, these solutions provide customization options for specialized requirements.
Direct server access allows for more control — platforms can be tightly secured, both physically and from online attacks. Finally, paid-for hardware-based solutions with low growth requirements may be more cost-effective than cloud-based alternatives. Cloud computing is not always cheaper!
Cloud-based solutions, however, do offer more transparent, predictable pricing with no capital expenditure, are faster to implement and can be easily scaled up or down to meet changing requirements.
Bottom line, for most businesses the cloud is the way to go!
Premise-based CCPs might be right for you if:
- You have highly customizable requirements
- You need hands-on physical security for your platform
- You’ve already made the investment, and your requirements are stable
You may want to consider cloud-based options if:
- You don’t have a premises-based solution
- Your current solution is fully depreciated
- Your requirements are changing, or you need to grow
Google Drive vs Dropbox vs OneDrive: Which Is Right For You?
The cloud collaboration space has become incredibly crowded over the last few years. New offerings of “the most secure storage” with “the easiest remote working capabilities” seem to appear every day.
We’ve picked the three stalwarts of cloud storage and collaboration here, but there are other respectable choices, such as Airtable, Podio, and Asana, just to name a few.
In truth, many organizations end up using multiple platforms to collaborate. Some may use Office 365 for collaborating on a document, while using Slack to keep everyone grouped in the proper teams and continue conversations about the project.
There is no hard and fast answer for a cloud collaboration setup. All you can do is determine what your business needs, and find the cloud platform that provides what you need!
While there are many different pros and cons for each of these services, keep in mind that when it comes to cloud storage, public cloud storage is not for everyone.
Organizations with strict security requirements, huge file sizes (e.g. engineering or architecture diagrams), or those looking for custom integration with other Line of Business (LoB) applications are going to want to look at other cloud solutions.
Be sure to consult with your local Managed IT Service Provider or other third party cloud expert to find out which types of cloud IT services are best for your specific environment!