Is Google Online Storage An Option For Small Business?


"My personal opinion is there's not enough confidence for the big boys to play. I don't think they'll get small businesses turning over their data to outside vendors. Yet," said Francis Poeta, president P&M Computers, Cliffside Park, N.J. "Google will pick up some share. The same people who will do Google [Apps] will do the storage. They'll catch maybe 5 percent of small businesses, which is a lot of people, but those people in the $1 million and above aren't going to do it."

Poete said if customers were ready for that model, IBM and others would have established successful programs by now.

"At this point, data is a tangible asset. To turn over a tangible asset to someone else, you just don't do it yet," he said. "People will not give their assets to national organization when they haven't done it with local organizations yet."

Other companies, like Microsoft and Western Digital offer online storage services, and many VARs talk about storage virtualization as a bleeding-edge technology. Some VARs express concerns about security and say the technology is too new to trust mission-critical data to.

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"[Companies] barely at this point have trust to have an application run over the Net. Now you want them to turn over everything? We're not there yet," Poeta said. "It's pretty bleeding edge. The technology is not bleeding edge, the sociology of it is bleeding edge. Is the technology there? Of course. It's not a big deal where they store the data. Are people ready to relinquish control of that asset? I don't know. I don't think they are."

The service could be released as soon as a few months from now, according to the Wall Street Journal. The newspaper also said Google plans to provide some free storage, with additional storage allotments available for a fee, which is not yet known.

Jay Tipton, vice president, Technology Specialists, Fort Wayne, Ind., said he has concerns about the security of online data storage. Since many services are new, there hasn't been enough time to find possible holes.

"My concern for clients is around Sox and HIPAA compliance. You're sticking proprietary information out there. How secure is it? Sticking pictures of the kids is fine, but to stick company data out there, I'd be a little hard pressed to want to do it," Tipton said.

Technology Specialists has explored online storage services, but no customers are asking for it yet, Tipton said.

Bob Dutkowsky, CEO of distributor Tech Data, said backing up storage is important, whether it comes from Google or a local solution provider.

"A lot of our VARs offer backup as a managed service. They don't have the brand of Google wrapped around them," Dutkowsky said. "Everybody needs to back up their technology today. A few year ago it just wasn't that important but as technology becomes more prevalent and people use it in more important ways people have to back things up."