Microsoft Partners: OneDrive Needs More Business-Friendly Features To Kill Dropbox, Box

Microsoft said Monday it has begun rolling out unlimited OneDrive cloud storage to its Office 365 consumer and education customers, with business customers slated to get their infinity bump early next year.

The move, coming just a few months after Microsoft packaged a terabyte of cloud storage with all Office 365 subscriptions, shows the software giant is dead serious about pressuring rivals and leveraging economic muscle of its massive cloud infrastructure.

But according to some partners, Microsoft will need more than just unlimited cloud storage to wrestle customers away from popular services like Box and Dropbox. Adding unlimited storage is a bold move, but they'd like to see Microsoft focus on adding features businesses crave.

[Related: Microsoft Plans To Give Unlimited Cloud Storage To All Office 365 Users]

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Sharing functionality in OneDrive, as well as the ability selectively sync files, are two areas business users are looking for Microsoft to upgrade, said Reed Wilson, founder and president of Greenville, S.C.-based Microsoft partner Palmetto Technology Group .

"We love OneDrive and think the tight integration with Office 365 is unrivaled. However, these basic pieces of functionality need to be addressed in order to see widespread adoption," Wilson said.

Microsoft's tool for synching OneDrive with Windows doesn't let users pick and choose which folders to sync locally to their PC, while Dropbox, Box and others offer this capability. Instead, it copies everything, and that's not ideal, Wilson told CRN.

"It doesn’t do you a lot of good to have unlimited storage in the cloud if you can’t selectively sync what comes locally. Most people don’t have unlimited hard drives," Wilson said.

Business users also want to be able to set up groups and access rights among Office 365 users in OneDrive, but Microsoft hasn't yet added this capability, Steve Tutino, president of Ann Arbor, Mich.-based Microsoft partner Ipanema Solutions, told CRN.

Currently, OneDrive for Business is a single-user product, and that's mainly because Microsoft has been pitching SharePoint as a file-sharing tool, Tutino said.

"Microsoft has been so stubborn thinking SharePoint is the answer to file sharing, but it isn’t. They finally added back public folders to Office 365, but they need a solid cloud, multi-user file-sharing product," Tutino said.

Chris Jones, Microsoft corporate vice president of OneDrive and SharePoint, acknowledged in a blog post Monday that unlimited cloud storage is just a piece of the puzzle. Microsoft is also working on adding tools that will let users "store, sync, share and collaborate" on files, he said.

While many enterprise vendors have highlighted the security risks of using Box and Dropbox, these services are still in widespread use in enterprises, and the vendors have been adding security and compliance features to attract more business users.

Despite the popularity of these services, Chris Hertz, CEO of Washington D.C.-based Microsoft Partner New Signature, told CRN he believes the software giant is well positioned to dominate the cloud storage market.

"In most of my conversations [with customers], IT departments are starting with the assumption that Microsoft is the incumbent and looking first and foremost at OneDrive for Business," Hertz said. "It also helps that Microsoft has been on the forefront of investing in cloud security and has an industry-leading approach on privacy and data security."