Monday, May 7, 2012

Maybe I Drive, Maybe You Walk

I admit since Google announced the Drive I haven’t been able get R.E.M.'s Drive out of my head, but I don’t mind too much because it’s a great song and I haven’t listened to it in far too long.  Feel free to hum as you read on.

Remember diskettes?

They were coaster sized and coaster shaped, and you likely had a special container to hold all of these plastic and metal nuggets of data storage.

They were standard features in office landscapes until they gave way to the Flash Drive. Now there was a slick method of moving your info from point A to point B. If you lost the little guy though, you could always go back to the tried and true method of emailing yourself a file. Oh wait. You still email yourself files?

Enter Google Drive

If you’ve used Google Docs before you’re already halfway there. Essentially, Google Drive is what Google Docs was, but now you can put anything in there. Word documents, pdf, jpg, eps, wav, psd, indd, ttf, csv, you get the idea. You can put anything you want to in your Drive then have it with you wherever you log in to your Gmail account whether you’re at home, the office, the park, or the grocery store. 

Intimidated at the thought of uploading all your info to Drive? Google thought of that too. You download and install the Drive App, and voila! All of your Drive files are located on your local computer. After that, you just move files onto your local Drive, then leave them to sync to the cloud on their own. The cloud Drive and the local Drive are always in sync so all your stuff is just there whenever you need it, wherever you need it.

The exciting part about Drive too is that Google doesn’t want you to just be able to store your files on the cloud, they want you to be able to edit your files on the cloud! How cool is it to be able to walk into a coffee shop, order up a large salted caramel mocha (yum!), then fire up your massive AutoCAD file and start editing it on the cloud. The same goes for image editing. With a single (free!) Chrome Web Store add on, you can clone, heal, blur, and adjust the levels of your psd files. I’m not even kidding.

What does this mean if you’re on Google Apps?

Drive can be the glue that ties Google Apps together. Yes, GMail is great, and what would you do without Calendar? Even Sites and Blogger are powerful tools, but Drive creates a foundation that gives those other tools a whole new level of functionality. Collaborate on and share any of your files, not just Docs files. Even search through your files using Google’s powerful search algorithms and Drive’s character recognition.

Apps users will love the way Drive integrates with their workflow. I know I do. I can attach photos and images from Drive to posts in Google+ and into Docs that I’m creating. They’re saying that soon we’ll be able to attach directly into Gmail from Drive too.

Drive has the same infrastructure as the other Google Apps services you already use, meaning it has the same management tools, security, uptime guarantee, data replication, and 24/7 support. 

How do you get more storage?

The short answer here is to contact Newmind Group. Drive is still very new, and depending on your organization’s new feature roll out preferences it might be hard to find all of the settings on your own. Directions for doing this yourself are out there, but with redesigns of the control panel underway right now, you might be setting yourself up for a little frustration.

Google starts each Apps user off with 5GB of storage for free and administrators can purchase and manage more storage for the team (Google Docs don’t count against the storage quota). That would be enough for 1000 songs, some hi-res scans of your baby pictures, your resume and work samples, and your archive of college term papers. If you want to upgrade for some more room to breathe, you can add 20GB for $4/per month up to the monster storage solution 16TB.

Google Drive Storage Pricing

If your Apps account uses online monthly billing, you can activate Google Drive storage licenses on a flexible plan, meaning that you only get charged for the licenses that are actively assigned to users. 

If your account uses the annual billing, you buy a set number of Drive storage licences for the year and assign or reassign that storage as you like throughout the year. The rub with the annual plan is that all of the storage licenses you purchase, even one purchased months after the initial purchase, will expire on the same date as the original subscription, and all purchases are non-refundable, so it's important to know your users and their habits before you buy storage for them. 

There will undoubtedly be things coming down the pipe fast and furious from the Drive Team (and I suggest download links a la Dropbox), but fresh out of the gate it's a pretty big game changer when used in conjunction with Apps for Business. 

What about the diskettes? I think I saw on Instructables on how to make a tote out of them. Emailing yourself files? Get the Drive