Yes, IT departments should worry about Google Drive

Google Drive is poised to give IT departments yet another headache to deal with.

Drive, the name of Google's data-syncing cloud storage service that's rumored to launch sometime next week, will likely offer many of the features of popular storage apps such as Dropbox and Box, including 5GB of free storage with upgrades of up to 100GB of storage for users willing to pay for service.

But there's a big difference between other cloud storage apps and Google Drive, which is namely that the former are run by small, independent firms while the latter will be run by one of the largest companies in tech and will thus be harder to avoid. Forrester analyst Frank Gillett says that the ubiquity of Google applications such as Gmail, YouTube and Maps will make it much harder for enterprises to block Google Drive than Dropbox or Box.

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"It's going to be tougher to drop Google Drive unless Google makes it easier to specifically block that program," he says. "Otherwise it will be difficult to block it without blocking other Google services as well."

Andres Rodriguez, the CEO of enterprise storage vendor Nasuni, also believes that companies need to watch out for Google Drive and warns IT departments that they won't want the application running on their network if they require any sort of basic security for their data.

"Google Drive is going to be aimed squarely at consumers or at SMBs where people are fine with having their data unencrypted," he says. "The model is extremely compelling but the fact that it's originating in the consumer space means there are big gaps that need to be filled."

Rodriguez says that one of the biggest gaps in Google Drive and other consumer-oriented cloud storage applications is that they are basically software as a service and thus give service providers access to the data being sent through the cloud. In order for such apps to be enterprise friendly, he says that they'll need to provide an option that will let companies sync up users' data through their own on-premise network where they'll be able to enforce password policies and encryption, among other things.

"None of the storage companies seem to be making any effort to integrate their applications into existing security infrastructure," he says. "And there's no way that enterprises will want to forgo their own security infrastructure."

Gillett recommends that companies stay ahead of the curve and shop around for enterprise-friendly mobile cloud storage services until the big-name consumer services get their acts together. In particular he recommends looking at storage apps such as TeamDrive and Nomadesk that provide similar capabilities to Google Drive but that also have strong security policies.

Nomadesk, for instance, actually has a "Mission Impossible"-style self-destruct feature that automatically deletes a user's data from the cloud if that user hasn't logged in after a certain amount of time. TeamDrive, meanwhile, lets users add on other third-party storage services such as Dropbox so they can be more safely integrated as an enterprise application. And both companies have remote wipe functionality that let IT departments directly wipe sensitive data from the cloud they may have leaked inadvertently.

But the bottom line, says Gillett, is that users will still want to use their own personal mobile cloud storage services for both work and personal data, and that Google will have to put in more effort in making sure Google Drive is ready for the enterprise to embrace.

"If Google wants to serve its enterprise customers it needs to add features that will make it more straightforward to manage work and personal data," he says. "I don't think we'll see that in the first iteration."

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