Looking to ditch file servers and go 100% cloud?

Replace File Server with Google Drive

Get the best practices guide – written by our experts

Start with a Root Folder

A root folder makes it super simple to deploy new shares to users. By enabling users to view all resources from a single starting point, organizations can eliminate the confusion associated from deploying many individual share points to employees.

Flatter Folder Structures Optimize Search

Google Drive supports a search-first, browse-later mentality. Best practices for dealing with traditional file servers call for deeper folder structures that rely on categorization to make browsing easier. When it comes to searching, however, flatter structures are the way to go.

Enable Role-Based Permissions

Role-based permissions make auditing and change management a snap. If a new employee is hired, IT can quickly assign resources simply by placing the new user account into the proper role groups that correspond to their job function.

Fill out this form to get the free guide:



Replacing File Servers with Google Drive

Best Practices for Deploying Cloud File Sharing

Why Google Drive?

Google Drive is at the core of the file sharing and collaboration tools within the G Suite. Drive enables users to store and share files in native Google formats (Docs, Sheets, Slides, Forms, etc.), Microsoft Office Formats (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, etc.), multimedia files, and just about any other file you can imagine.

The advancements of Google’s web based technology has made many of the common file types that users interact with on a day-to-day basis viewable and editable directly inside any modern web browser (use Chrome for best results), tablet, or smartphone. Google also offers a Drive desktop application for Windows and Mac OS which enables synchronization of files between Google’s servers and the local operating system. Some organizations will find this useful, especially when support for editing file types that Google Drive does not offer browser view/edit functionality.

Companies that use Google Drive extensively enjoy the ability to have users work with files anywhere, anytime, from any device, without having to rely on clunky remote access solutions or unsanctioned personal file sharing accounts to get the job done. Furthermore, Drive is an extremely cost-efficient solution and is fully integrated into the G Suite platform, making a Drive deployment an ideal alternative to costly and cumbersome file server infrastructure.

Saying Goodbye to File Server Headaches

On-premise file servers have long been a thorn in the side of IT administrators. Consider how much time the IT staff spends on the necessary tasks of maintaining a traditional file server:

Patching

Server operating system patches have to be audited and vetted prior to deployment. Deploying patches also means planned downtime and system reboots which leave employees without access to critical resources for a period of time. Additionally, there’s always a possibility that the patch does not deploy as smoothly as expected, causing an extended outage.

Redundancy

The need for redundancy and high availability has a dramatic impact on IT budgets. For most enterprises, mid-sized organizations, and even some small businesses, redundancy is a necessity, not a luxury. The price tag is high, but the cost of outages and lost data would be insurmountable.

Replication

Synchronizing data across multiple on-premise locations or data centers is another headache for IT staff to worry about. In many cases, the technology to do so was conceived in an era that’s dramatically different from the world of business today: multi-platform, multi-device, and built for mobile, not just workers sitting at desks from nine to five.

Storage

Managing storage is one of the most complex technology challenges facing IT departments today. Even as the cost of storage media drops, the cost of specialized hardware, software, and skilled engineers to operate storage systems remains sky high.

Secure Remote Access

Most of the remote access technologies in use today were meant to serve the world of yesterday, where a very limited portion of work was conducted from outside the company’s headquarters. Virtual private network (VPN) systems, terminal servers, remote desktop solutions represent a pre-cloud way of tackling technology challenges. As employees have become less tethered to desks, the added demand for mobile and remote access has put a strain on these technologies and the IT departments responsible for supporting them.

Advantages of Migrating to Google Drive

Making the switch to Google Drive can bring tremendous results in IT staff efficiency, cost-efficiency, and employee productivity. The file storage headaches mentioned above simply don’t come into play when Google Drive replaces your file servers. One of the key reasons why cloud solutions, especially public cloud SaaS solutions, have proven to be so successful is the mass efficiency achieved through economies of scale.

Google offers a data center infrastructure unlike no other on the planet, maintained by hundreds of highly qualified engineers, coupled with world-class security and data center operations. These are the types of resources that are only accessible in an economy of scale created by SaaS solutions.

Public cloud services like Google Drive allows organizations to leverage shared resources to their advantage. In any shared resource environment, you’re not going to have total control over the infrastructure and the way applications are built and deployed- adaptation and adoption go hand-in-hand. For this reason, organizations should carefully examine their current file storage practices and consider how they can be adapted to a modern cloud solution before deploying Google Drive.

Considerations Regarding Team Drive

On March 9, 2017, Google announced the much anticipated Team Drive has been released in beta for the general public to enable on their G Suite domain. We’d like to take a moment to breakdown our experiences thus far with this update.

The Benefits of Team Drive

Team Drive is quite useful for small projects or departments in need of hosting a single hub for multiple various files. The biggest selling point is that all the data that resides in a Team Drive folder is owned by the folder -not the individuals contributing or accessing the folder. This is a great step towards peeling away a common administrator headache of managing ownership of Google Drive files.

If Team Drive is enabled for your domain, creating a Team Drive folder is as simple as clicking ‘Team Drives’ and then ‘New’. Once created, Google Drive will guide you along to adding members and their permission levels to the folder. It’s very simple to use and is now part of our discovery process when working with clients to make Google Drive their file server.

Where Team Drive Needs Improvements

Although Team Drives is excellent for specific projects or departments, there are still plenty of situations where Team Drives simply won’t be a good fit. Team Drive is still in beta, so we expect to see substantial improvements between 2017 and Jan 2018 when the official release is set to drop.

A few issues we’ve come across:

  1. We’ve encountered several reports that heavy usage (e.g. substantial uploads/ large media files) is causing folder and file limit notifications and thus causing the folder to be unusable. To note, this threshold is extremely high, but nevertheless, still a threshold.
  2. You cannot use the Google Drive Sync tool with Team Drives. Google is releasing DriveStream, a tool that no longer requires a sync tool to be downloaded onto your computer. Instead, the files being worked on will be seamlessly available and streamed on-demand.
  3. Team Drive does not allow you to control subfolder permissions. This means that permissions on the top level folder for the entire Team Drive will be inherited throughout all sub folders.
  4. There is no capability to restrict downloading or printing -even for read only users.

Again, we find this a much desired update that will enhance the Drive experience substantially. However, Team Drive does not negate our recommended approach to organize and administer a Drive folder structure.

Why a New Set of Best Practices is Needed

Old habits may die hard, but it’s clear that making a transition from traditional file servers to a cloud solution such as Drive calls for a new set of best practices. Making a straight one-to-one transition from a file server to Google Drive without considering the changes necessary to adapt to the cloud would be a grave mistake for IT leadership.

Below are some of the key aspects of Google Drive that IT leaders find to be extremely beneficial, while at the same time presenting the organization with new challenges.

Want to keep reading? Download the full guide: