Google Drive: One Cloud to Rule Them All?
Google Drive is here, and it is big. It has been described as the 800-pound gorilla of cloud services. Will smaller competitors such as Dropbox be able to survive going head to head with Google? And what are the implications, not just for consumers but for IT midsize firms?
Cloud services of this type are nominally targeted primarily at consumers. But they are already finding a great many interested business users, as these services provide handy, flexible, and inexpensive storage space for varied types of unstructured data. For IT shops at midsize firms, the picture is mixed. On the one hand, multiple vendors mean more alternatives. On the other hand, use of multiple vendors complicates security and data management.
Google Drive has been rolling out and billowing up like an anvil-headed thundercloud. It has already generated some tempests, notably regarding its privacy and intellectual-rights policies. But the big question, raised by Lucas Mearan at Computerworld, may be how many other clouds can survive in the same sky. Will Dropbox and similar cloud-provider firms be too overshadowed to survive?
Analyst Michael Gartenberg of research firm Gartner suggested that sheer size is not everything. Says Gartenberg, "When the 800-pound gorilla jumps in the pool, it usually makes a splash. It doesn't mean it can swim well."
In the broad consumer market, Google Drive and mega-competitors like Microsoft SkyDrive and Apple iCloud, hope to leverage their parent firms' existing relationships with millions of potential customers. Smaller firms such as Dropbox cannot match that heft but argue that they are better at providing a specific service.
A Business Niche?
From an IT perspective, services such as Dropbox fill a quite different niche from that provided by cloud storage vendors such as Amazon. They are an alternative not to the data center, but to the desktop hard drive.
As such, they are not the exclusive province of IT, but IT managers at midsize firms still have to deal with them, particularly in terms of data security and data management. Cloud "drives" will not contain thousands or millions of customers' account data. But they may well host crucial development projects or sensitive executive memos.
Therein lies a dilemma for IT managers. Flexibility and multiple alternatives are generally good things. On the other hand, the more services that are used by various people within the organization, the more services that IT must get a management handle on.
Whichever way the cloud "drive" market goes, IT managers at midsize firms will need a strategy and policy for protecting the data that resides in this emerging class of clouds.
This post was written as part of the IBM for Midsize Business program, which provides midsize businesses with the tools, expertise and solutions they need to become engines of a smarter planet. Like us on Facebook. Follow us on Twitter.