This is the first time that a cloud file storage service has offered unlimited storage at entry-level prices. The fine print shows that a business must spend $50 per month to store an unlimited number of files because Google Drive for Work accounts with fewer than five users are limited to 1TB of storage per user.
The second major drawcard is the ability to open and edit Microsoft documents in their native format. Google has incorporated its Quickoffice acquisition into Google Drive for Work so businesses can read and edit Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint files on Android mobile devices and in the Chrome browser on a desktop or laptop computer. The company says it plans to add the capability to iOS (iPhone and iPad) devices soon.
Google Drive, the consumer-targeted cloud storage service bundled with Google’s web email service Gmail, already has amassed 190 million users worldwide two years after its introduction, the company says.
Google Drive for Work adds more controls and security settings for businesses that want to know how files are shared and by whom. The service allowed a business to share files up to 5TB in size for others to view, comment, edit or download.
Google committed to a service level agreement of 99.9 percent uptime, or a maximum of nine hours’ downtime a year with zero maintenance outages (rival services sometimes promised SLAs that excluded scheduled maintenance).
Google Drive is compatible with over 40 file formats and could preview videos, images, Microsoft Office documents, spreadsheets and PDFs without using extra software.
Other notable differences to the consumer Google Drive are stronger security and a full support. Files are encrypted while in transit from a user’s computer to Google Drive’s cloud data centre and remain encrypted while stored in the data centre or when moved to a mobile device.
Drive for Work has been built to enterprise-grade security standards such as SSAE 16 / ISAE 3402 Type II, SOC 2-audit, ISO 27001 certification, adherence to the Safe Harbor Privacy Principles, and can support industry-specific requirements like HIPAA.
Google is providing 24×7 email, phone and chat support for businesses to help them make the shift to Google Drive.
Google is also bringing the power of its search engine by using optical character recognition and image recognition to identify words or images in PDFs or handwritten notes.
IT administrators can customise how employees use Google Drive by restricting the ability to install the desktop sync client. A new audit view shows activity like moving, deleting or sharing a file within or outside the company, and an audit API will also be available for developers.