Do We Even Need A Google Drive?


Google changed the way we find information, but can it change the way we store it?

That will very likely be an uphill battle. There are finite use patterns for how we store data on individual devices, and the same could be said for enterprise storage. They are all established, and woven into the way many of us do stuff. There’s:

- Heavy-duty (power) computing use, which continues to rely on great processors, efficient software and fast and deep on-board storage;

- Light-and-fast computing use, which can happen on either a laptop or tablet but which requires at least some support from on-board storage for quick retrieval of documents and applications;

- Ultra-mobility, which happens primarily through tablets but also through laptops like the MacBook Air or Samsung Series 9, where SSDs or HDDs are more for supporting fast-boot times than data storage. Here cloud storage has an emerging opportunity;

- Enterprise computing, where IT shops are so cautious at times with the security, management issues and cost risks associated with individual storage that some still refuse to expand employee e-mail capacity beyond 500 MB.

It’s hard to see how any Google cloud storage offering will alter any of these usage patterns. It’s hard to see how Google will offer anything more than a “me too” service. Will it integrate with Google Plus? Docs? Gmail? Android? Even if it does, Google cloud storage will still have the same bandwidth and availability challenges as all of the other services for mobility. And it will still have the same security, manageability and cost-effectiveness challenges as the enterprise cloud storage companies.

And consider these remarks from Guy Cress:

“I talk to a lot of Gartner clients who are looking for an enterprise alternative to Dropbox. If Google Drive is consumer-oriented, Google is missing a huge opportunity.”

(By the way, if you’re in an enterprise and you’re using Dropbox, you could creating a lot of risk. )

The problem is, for Google to reach a meaningful level of enterprise-readiness with Google Drive, we would need to see a level of R&D investment the likes of which we’ve already seen over the years by companies like EMC, HP, Dell, VMware and -- over the course of decades -- IBM. Google has some of the world’s smartest people, and a lot of cash, so that’s indeed possible. But the lion’s share of Google’s revenue comes from Web-based advertising, and client-side computing, so don’t expect a major drive into enterprise cloud storage by Google just yet.

The good news for Google in all of this is that nobody else has grabbed the mantle of cloud-storage frontrunner. Apple’s iCloud, Microsoft’s Sky Drive, Box.net, Dropbox all are grabbing slivers of the same pie for now. In the enterprise, Rackspace and a variety of others are doing, essentially, the same. There is yet to emerge a Microsoft or Intel of cloud storage.

Do we even need a Google Drive, for individuals or enterprises? Somehow, IT has managed to survive for a couple of decades without it. It could easily survive a couple more.

Unless Google can change the way we do things, it will just be a nice little option along with all the others.