OneDrive for Business: How Not-Suite It Is

Written by Tim Haight

I'm VP of Technology Services for CGNET. I love to travel and do IT strategic planning.

March 7, 2014

By Tim Haight

Onedrive-biz-big-logoThis week, Microsoft announced it will be offering OneDrive for Business as a standalone product on April 1.  This raises two important questions.

First, why would anybody launch a new product on April Fool’s Day?

The second question is serious. Since almost all of CGNET’s customers are nonprofits, why would any of them want the standalone version of OneDrive for Business? Actually, it’s a great product, so I need to explain.

OneDrive for Business is the new name for SkyDrive Pro, the cloud storage and file sharing app that has been, and will continue to be, part of Microsoft Office 365. Microsoft had to change the name because somebody else already had the rights to “SkyDrive,” or something close enough.

OneDrive for Business can be set up so that you can save to it just like to any local folder. You can do this from PCs, Windows Phones, iOS, and Android. I’ve done it easily from my PC, iPhone and iPad. You can share files with people inside and outside your organization. They don’t have to have Office 365, only a Microsoft ID. Everybody also gets access to the browser-based versions of the Office Apps to use with the files. All the details are here.

The product has excellent security and business continuity. It offers version control, although the default setting is “off.” We’re using it increasingly here at CGNET. I work at home some, so it’s very convenient for me.

Microsoft is calling this release “standalone” to indicate that you don’t have to buy any more of Office 365 just to get the cloud storage and file sharing. This puts it into easy competition with products like Box and Dropbox, among many, many others. The product is available for $2.50 per user per month through September. There are more discounts for users of other Microsoft products.

But What If You Can Get It for Free?

Almost all of our nonprofit customers, however, can get a generous Office 365 bundle for free. You will get Exchange Online, Lync Online, and SharePoint Online, plus some other stuff, along with One Drive for Business, and you’ll pay nothing to Microsoft. If all you want is the cloud storage and file sharing, then that’s all you use, even though you’d have rights to the rest. I really like the other Office 365 products, so this seems a bit limited to me, but it’s a path of least effort.

I can understand it. Microsoft is famous for giving people more features than they can ever use and often for being too complicated. Say Office 365 to some people, and they think Exchange migration. You don’t have to worry about that with Box, if all you want is cloud storage and file sharing. You don’t really have to worry about that with Office 365 either, and Microsoft’s decided to make a point of it.

There was a time when suites, such as Office, seemed like the great innovation. “You can get all this functionality at a lower combined price!” we said. Now it looks as if less may be more. How not-suite it is.


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