While on vacation last week, I had a chance to put on my consumer hat and take a look at cloud storage solutions for my mother's relatively small needs. A few things caught my eye, and while I was supposed to be helping her out, my mind wandered into that place it goes when it's time to write an article. Now that I'm back, here's what I'm left thinking about with regards to cloud storage:
Dropbox isn't for everyone
We often say that "everyone is using Dropbox," but the fact of the matter is that, while Dropbox is the industry darling, people will gravitate to the solution that offers the most for the least amount of money. Dropbox, unfortunately, comes up towards the bottom of the list when looking at dollars per gigabyte per month. While they give users 2GB for free, the next step up to 50GB will cost you $99/year. My mother the consumer doesn't see that as $10/mo for a decent amount of storage and a really kickass product, though. She sees that as $100 dollar bill floating out the window.
If Dropbox isn't for everyone, the problem is much worse
With that in mind, I set out to look for a solution that could support her ~4GB of real data (e.g. self-created, non iTunes data) and two laptops, and there are many solutions that can step right in (in theory, that is). Dropbox is, unfortunately, one of just a few that limits you to 2GB free. Amazon, Box, iCloud, and Google Drive all offer 5GB, with Microsoft Skydrive and SugarSync coming in on the high side with 7GB free.
Granted, there are different sync capabilities between these products, and I freely admit that I prefer to use Dropbox because of those features, but many users out there just want another place to keep their data. That means that organizations can't just be on the lookout for Dropbox, they also have to be watching for:
- Microsoft Skydrive
- Citrix ShareFile
- Amazon Cloud Drive
- Ubuntu One
- LogMeIn Cubby
- Mozy Stash
- AVG LiveKive
- LaCie Wuala
Holy smokes, that's a lot of services! For an awesome rundown of most of the items in that list, check out the cloud storage face-off over at The Verge.
More solutions are probably coming
My mom is a Yahoo user for email and small flash games, so I went looking for a Yahoo-based storage solution to keep it simple for her. If Google Drive, Skydrive, and whatever product Yahoo might have had all do the same thing for her (not for everyone, but for her), then why not go with the one where she already has a logon and keep it simple?
Interestingly, Yahoo doesn't have anything--not even a partnership--to allow their users to store files in the cloud. They used to have something called Briefcase, which was announced in 1999 and let you store photos in a 30MB "briefcase" online. After Yahoo acquired Flickr, Briefcase languished before being shut down in 2009, about the same time Dropbox became an indispensable tool for us.
Having suffered from bad timing, Yahoo may be feeling the crunch to get involved, but how? Do they roll their own, buy something, or partner with a solution?AVG LiveKive is find-and-replace copy of SpiderOak's solution, which may or may not be a good thing. Yahoo might not have the money to buy anyone, but a partnership like that might work out. They could also develop something in house, but that's more of a long-term thing. It could work, though, especially if they're already working on it behind the scenes. Until recently, Google didn't even have a solution, but Google Drive has already made a splash in it's short time. The consumer world can't get enough of these products, so I'm certain we haven't hit the peak yet.
So, that's what came to mind after an hour or so of searching for a storage solution with my consumer hat on. Organizations already trying to play catch up have to look out for a lot more than the few services we mention. Corporate data can be in any one of the 15 consumer-oriented solutions out there (that's just the ones mentioned in this article), so it's more important than ever to get a grip on your enterprise cloud storage strategy and do what it takes to get your users the services they want in a way that's safe for you and acceptable for them.