Google soothes enterprise security concerns with Drive for Work

Search giant talking to Australian customers about upgrading to unlimited storage

Google hopes to ease lingering Australian concerns about data sovereignty as it makes a fresh play to get organisations to adopt its Drive cloud storage service, according to Kevin Ackhurst, managing director of Google Enterprise in Australia.

The new Google Drive for Work, announced overnight at Google I/O, gives businesses unlimited storage capacity for $10 monthly per user. Businesses can upload files up to 5TB each in size. Drive for Work also includes new audit and administration controls, as well as stronger encryption to enhance security.

Google is in talks with Australian customers about upgrading to the unlimited offer, Ackhurst told Computerworld Australia

“We’re in the process of having those final discussions with them,” he said. “We’ve spoken to some of our most significant customers early. After the announcements last night, we’re actually going to call the rest of them.”

Major Google customers in Australia include Woolworths, Dick Smith, Fairfax and News Corp.

One thing Google can’t guarantee is that data will be stored in Australia. Data uploaded to Drive does not get stored in any one particular country, Ackhurst said.

Ackhurst admitted that this issue of data sovereignty is a concern for some Australian organisations, especially those in government and highly regulated industries like healthcare and financial services.

However, Google is trying to convince these organisations that its approach is actually more secure than keeping everything in a local data centre.

“We believe that the story we tell – in terms of how people’s data is stored, how we think about security, the ways in which we actually store that data, how we think about latency and acceleration – is a much better story than saying, ‘Hey your stuff is in Crows Nest at a particular data centre.’”

“If you knew the location [of the data centre], you could actually do something to disrupt what was happening there.”

Google has had talks with government and regulators to ease concerns about the subject, he said.

“We work on a continual basis with government departments [and] regulators to help them to understand the approach that we take. Typically, we find that as we explain the things we do, there’s less of an issue.”

Ackhurst said that 190 million business users have used Google Drive in the last 30 days, and he expects that number to grow with the new release.

“Every year we see an increase in the amount of content that is created by organisations and it grows exponentially,” he said.

“By providing this to organisations who want it, they no longer have to worry about the constraints they might have in terms of how they add storage in their own IT environments or in the ways with which they actually use our services.”

Google has carefully written its service agreement to stop potential abuses of the unlimited data offering, he said.

“It’s not as if you can suddenly use our unlimited storage and create your own for-sale service, because we’re going to shut that down,” he said. “But for those organisations that want to be storing large files and want to take advantage of the fact that they don’t have to worry about how much information they store and trying to monitor that, that’s important.”

Google’s announcement of Drive for Work came two days after rival Microsoft announced it would pump up OneDrive’s storage space to 1TB for Office 365 users.

Not surprisingly, Ackhurst claimed that Microsoft has the inferior deal. “They don’t offer 5TB [per file], they don’t offer unlimited storage and they don’t offer it at the pricing that we offer.”

Telsyte analyst Rodney Gedda said he expects business-oriented cloud storage services like Drive and OneDrive will spur organisations to make a purchase.

“Online file storage services are now used widely in business thanks to the [bring your own applications (BYOA)] trend where people use their preferred apps for home and work,” Gedda said.

“Now there is a rapid trend among those cloud providers to slap a ‘Business’ or ‘Work’ label on them and offer more enterprise features like security, user management and interoperability with other services like directories. This will increase business adoption as more organisations move staff from free consumer services to paid and supported business versions.”

Adam Bender covers telco and enterprise tech issues for Computerworld and is the author of dystopian sci-fi novels We, The Watched and Divided We Fall. Follow him on Twitter: @WatchAdam

Follow Computerworld Australia on Twitter: @ComputerworldAU, or take part in the Computerworld conversation on LinkedIn: Computerworld Australia

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