OneDrive and the Enterprise

As frequent readers will notice that while my primary focus for my blog is Exchange and anything messaging related, I do post articles on what I think of as connecting technologies. With many of my customers exploring Office 365 as a viable option for Exchange, SharePoint, Skype and file storage, I tend to get drawn into these conversations about how they can better utilize their Office 365 tenant and in this case we are talking about One Drive.

OneDrive epitomizes all the is Cloud. Nebulous. Fuzzy. Attractive alternative to om-premises solutions.

OneDrive logo






Can you trust your files in the cloud? As with any provider, this answer can always be summed up as ‘it depends’. With Microsoft you are going to have one of the largest companies backing their product. This does not mean flawless execution.

Sample Issues
Troubleshooting Synchronization
However, it does mean you are getting a product that strives to be the best. With their numerous datacenters and storage clusters, you are assured plenty of storage (whatever you are will willing to pay for). It can be tightly integrated with your desktop OS, like Dropbox, and it runs on Windows 7 and 8.x. One Drive will operate like the rest of your cloud based applications – good when the Internet is up and reduced functionality when the Internet is down.

The Enterprise
Several of my clients, in their move to put email in the cloud are also looking at leveraging additional Office 365 functionality. This includes One Drive, Yammer, SharePoint, etc. For OneDrive most are looking for either a way to share data between end-users, replace their My Documents Directory, or create a new ‘Shared Drive’. The advantages are that One Drive can utilize IRM that Office 365 has, no backups are needed as Microsoft takes care of this in the background with a Recycle Bin.

The obvious advantages to my enterprise clients are:

  • Sharing between end users
  • Backups reduced – files synched to the cloud are protected by a 90 day windows provided by Microsoft.
  • Mobility – Documents created on a MAC or PC, synched to the cloud, are available on a Tablet (Surface, iPad, etc) or SmartPhone (Windows, iPhone, Android).
  • Rights management – IRM for your important corporate documents
  • No on-premises file server to manage, maintain, expense etc.

The question then remains, why or why not?

Corporate Integration
For those corporations who are already using Office 2013, OneDrive integration is already present in your applications:

OneDriveIntegration1

The integration is present throughout the Office 2013 suite. The convenience factor alone for my clients who switch to One Drive for their business documents is a valid driving point. Optional functionality like IRM for One Drive also has convinced other clients to move as they can provide more protection quicker and easier than if they maintained it internally.

A central location for document collaboration is also a driving factor where documents can be edited in real-time with another user. A good overview of this can be found here.

Along with document collaboration is document versioning. Information on this can be found HERE. To verify is versioning is on or not, check here for validation procedures. Document restoration goes hand in hand with document versioning. See this link for restoring files in OneDrive.

One of the best features which I personally use is the capabilities of OneNote to sync to the cloud. With this I can create a OneNote that is sync’d to the cloud and then access it via my mobile phone. This can be useful for frequently used information or client notes that might need to be accessible if your laptop is not nearby:

OneNote-Mobile

The above is a list of notes I took from an Exchange design session with a client. For the notes, I simply brought my smartphone with me, composed my notes on the phone in OneNote (which sync via OneDrive) and then later accessed them via my laptop later to create a design document for my customer. A truly mobile solution.

What this means is your personnel in the field don’t have to have a full laptop now to either take notes, create reports or create a document to be shared later. It can be done on your mobile device, shared for later and then accessed via a computer at a later time for further analysis, collaboration, etc.

Limitations

  • Limitations per Microsoft and a follow-up article with more information. The key here is the 20,000 item limit. This has changed in the past, so look for this to possibility increase in the future.
  • Invalid characters – certain characters cannot be used and will prevent the synch of the item to Office 365
  • Invalid Folder names – same as the characters, these will not sync
  • File type limitation – certain file types are not allowed. Review the list to ensure your documents are sync’d.
  • Open files – will not be sync’d
  • One Notes – already has its own mechanism.

Thoughts
While there have been some notable missteps with synchronization and size limitations and that currently 20,000 is the maximum files that can be snch’d to OneDrive, I do believe it has its place in an environment. Some will move for the cost (no servers and no maintance) and some will use One Drive for its features. I do believe that One Drive will continue to mature into a true Enterprise product. We simply need a better sync function, some more management tools for the enterprise as well as an increase in the item limit.

Next In the Series
In my next article I will compare OneDrive to Google, DropBox, etc. What I am specifically looking for is how it compares for the enterprise in terms of mobility and corporate functionality – i.e. Enterprise level features.

Further Reading
About OneDrive for Business
One Drive for Business – Detailed Description
Unlimited Storage Announcement
Redirection – GPO
Office 2013 Integration
OneNote uses OneDrive

How to display a list of OneDrive for Business site collections
How to pre-provision user sites in OneDrive for Business
Use Windows PowerShell cmdlets to enable OneDrive sync for domains that are on the safe recipients list


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