Google Drive Enterprise is a business cloud storage solution which ostensibly replaces Google Drive for Work. It introduces a slew of upgraded features and technologies to Google’s marquee cloud storage and file sharing solution. Beginning at $8 per user per active user per month and $.04 per GB of storage monthly, Google Drive Enterprise is designed to work seamlessly with Microsoft Office 365 files. It also includes access to Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides as well, with no storage limits for Google-formatted files and a new scheme where you only pay for active users.
Google Drive Enterprise represents the new wave of cloud storage solutions that are designed specifically for the needs of small to midsize businesses (SMBs) as well as enterprise customers. The focus is on openness and interoperability so clients can easily integrate the cloud solutions with productivity services they already use. We’re seeing the addition of artificial intelligence (AI) to manage files and workflows, plus improved security, sharing, and encryption protocols across the board for business use. Google Drive Enterprise competes with Microsoft OneDrive for Business ($5.00 Per User Per Month at Microsoft Office 365 for Business) , Dropbox Business, Egnyte Business, and other business-focused cloud storage solutions.
Google Drive Enterprise marks the separation of the Google Drive component from Google G Suite tools like Gmail and Google Calendar. Designed to work as a standalone app, it builds on what Google Drive for Work offered but bolsters functionality in several areas, specifically in terms of security as well as general interoperability with 60+ third-party applications, most specifically Microsoft Office 365 apps.
We’re seeing a sea-change in focus from cloud storage and productivity software vendors which is that they want their cloud storage and file sharing solutions to work independently from their other applications. For Google Drive Enterprise, the big takeaway is that is has been designed to interoperate and co-exist fluidly with Microsoft’s solutions while bringing the ease of collaboration that G Suite is known for. This seems like an unprecedented show of openness and in cooperation between two rival companies. After all, Microsoft and Google compete in a number of areas including productivity tools and, most especially, in cloud services and technologies.
But when you consider that Microsoft Office has 180 million monthly active Office 365 commercial users, with more than 50,000 small business signing up for Office 365 each month, it makes great sense for Google to work with this captive installed user base.
Google Drive Enterprise builds on all of the familiar and convenient collaboration features of Google Drive for consumers, which has over a billion global users and enhances it with various business-facing features. The major feature here are plug-ins for Microsoft Office products including Outlook, Word, Excel, and PowerPoint which let users know who is collaborating on these solutions in real-time.
Google Drive Enterprise also integrates the ability to track collaboration on documents which are being worked on simultaneously. In the event that different users submit conflicting edits, Google Drive Enterprise will pop up inside Word, PowerPoint, or Excel, and give a side-by-side view of the differences between the files. As the workplace evolves with a mix of remote and office workers across various timezones, having a smart solution to keep collaborative documents in check has become essential.
SMBs that rely mostly on Microsoft Office solutions might be better off with Microsoft OneDrive for Business ($5.00 Per User Per Month at Microsoft Office 365 for Business) , our Editors’ Choice pick for a business cloud storage solution, which has stronger integrations with Microsoft Office apps while adding AI, and file sharing innovations. Egnyte Business, our other Editors’ Choice pick, might suit larger organizations or those that require both on-premises and cloud storage solution.
Pricing and Setup
Google Drive Enterprise costs $8 per active user per month. Google’s approach to pricing is that only active users need to pay for subscriptions. Drive for Enterprise subscribers will need to pay $1 per 25GB of storage used or $.04 per GB. SMBs and enterprise users will appreciate the flexibility and being able to pay for only the accounts and the storage they need. Google Drive Enterprise includes Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides, and the documents from these apps are stored for free. Subscriptions include 24/7 phone and email support as well as enterprise-grade security tools.
Microsoft OneDrive for Business costs less at $5 per user per month and it bundles 1 terabyte (TB) of storage, advanced search, and file discovery and sharing tools plus 24/7 phone and web support. Egnyte Business is similarly priced as Google Drive Enterprise, starting at $8 per user per month with up to 5 TB of storage. This tier, however, is for 5-25 employees, so smaller and larger organizations will need to consider other options. Dropbox Business’ Standard plan starts at $12.50 per user per month with 3 TB of storage but requires a minimum of three users.
Microsoft OneDrive for Business looks to be the best deal in terms of pricing and storage, but Google Drive Enterprise may win over some SMBs and entrepreneurs with its more flexible use-based subscription plan, where they are only charged for the accounts and storage you use, only when you use them. Google Drive Enterprise offering smaller storage capacity buckets (at $1 per 25 GB). Google offers an easy to use a calculator to help determine the price. Beyond storage, Google Drive Enterprise does include productivity apps like Docs, Sheets, and Slides.
Setting Up Google Drive Enterprise
For my demo, I was added to an existing Google Drive Enterprise account. To access the domain, I had to engage a two-factor authentication (2FA) procedure which sent a code to a known or registered number, which shows that the security of a drive is of paramount importance from the get-go.
At first glance, there’s little visual difference between a regular G Suite and Google Drive Enterprise. Both share the sparse yet dynamic design, with a main navigation bar on the left-hand side. This navigation bar on Google Drive Enterprise does feature a number of items not found in the consumer Google Drive.
Below the Drive logo and title and the New button (for uploading files or adding new folders as well as creating new Docs, Sheets, or Slides documents. Google Drive Enterprise features the Priority button which gathers all pertinent files based on what has been worked on or collaborated on recently. Below that is My Drive which, just like with G-Suite is the main personal drive of the account.
Google Drive Enterprise also has a Shared Drives icon, and this is where a team’s files can be shared and accessed by team members. Right-clicking on folders and files shows a number of options. You can Preview a document, Open With, Share, Get a shareable link, Add to the workplace, Move to, Add to Starred, and Rename.
G Suite-Style Collaboration Now on Microsoft Office
Google is applying some of the ease of use and seamless document collaboration features native to its own products like Docs, Sheets, and Slides onto Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. Google Drive Enterprise can also work in tandem with 60+ file types, but the big draw here is its ability to interact seamlessly with the Microsoft Office suite of solutions which are ubiquitous in business.
With Google Drive Enterprise, it is now possible to edit Microsoft Office native documents (i.e., from Word, Excel, and PowerPoint) within Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides while saving them back in Microsoft formats. I accessed and edited an Excel spreadsheet and a Word document made some minor changes and saved the document in their native format. Opening the same documents on my desktop version of Microsoft Word and Excel showed that the changes had been made with no weirdness introduced into the formatting, a common issue when dealing with Office documents in non-native environments.
Google Drive Enterprise delivers on its promise of deep integration with Office documents. Beyond storage and file sharing, Drive for Enterprise by Google really comes into its own when you see how it can help organizations create streamlined workflows that enable users to assign tasks, request and manage approvals, as well as handle version control.
File storage in Google Drive Enterprise also helps team management of shared files. If an employee or team member leaves the group or project, it is easy to secure his files to avoid deletion or loss. The Vault for eDiscovery feature can retain, archive, manager, search, and export corporate date for legal holds and audits automatically with Vault, Google’s data retention solution.
Google’s advantage as a cloud storage provider is that it can leverage its vast knowledge and experience in search, machine learning (ML) and analytics, and put these features at the disposal of SMBs. ML enables faster file searches and a Priority setting which gathers and arranges documents, files, folders, and recently accessed items first.
Google’s artificial intelligence (AI) also curates and recommends “workspaces” for each user by pulling in all the documents they accessed recently. AI continues to learn and predict better ways to help users work. Microsoft’s OneDrive for Business offers a similar feature where it can pull up the documents or folders that it deems as most important or time-critical based on usage, collaborators, and time last accessed.
Google Drive Enterprise’s Priority feature is equally powerful but slightly less proactive since you do need to invoke it by accessing the Priority button.
Google also tightens up the security side with powerful data protection tools to enable privacy and compliance. A Data Loss Prevention (DLP) feature. The Shared Drives feature secures commonly used files, even when a team member or employee leaves.
Security and Integration
Google Drive Enterprise follows many standard industry guidelines in terms of security This includes ISO 27001, SOC2, and SOC3. In addition, Google will sign a Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) compliance agreement, which is a minimum requirement for using any cloud storage product in the healthcare industry. Data is encrypted at rest with the military-grade, 256-bit Advanced Encryption Standard (AES), and information transferred to and from Google is always protected with Secure Socket Layer (SSL). It does lack a mechanism for customer-managed encryption keys. Google Drive Enterprise also offers full support for multifactor authentication (MFA) to keep attackers out. Combined with an excellent file-auditing solution.
All Google technology is built upon its own set of polished application programming interfaces (APIs); Google Drive Enterprise is no exception to this. Active Directory (AD) password syncing is available for enterprise users through G Suite Password Sync (GSPS) to make managing G Suite accounts a bit easier. It isn’t direct integration with full account management but it works well enough, which sums up Google Drive Enterprise’s ambitious and much-improved integration with Microsoft Office documents. It’s extremely functional and well-implemented. However, it pales in the system-level interaction that Microsoft OneDrive for Business offers native Microsoft Office 365-based businesses. That said, Google Drive Enterprise’s unique pricing scheme will make sense to SMBs that see a flux of users from month to month.