If you listen to Microsoft, SkyDrive Pro combined with either Sharepoint 2013 or Office 365 is the best thing since the invention of the Internet. For enterprises this may eventually be true but there are concerns from many sides about security.
To make matters worse the clock is ticking on Microsoft to get reasonable penetration into the enterprise cloud storage market. Currently Box.com, with a focus that started on the enterprise, holds the major portion of the market now. Dropbox on the other hand is securing hundreds of millions of dollars in financing specifically to break into the enterprise market.
Microsoft first developed the original SkyDrive cloud service, part of the company’s new device and service strategy, to support storage on Surface tablets and other “space” challenged devices. It now is automatically installed and enabled by default in WIndows 8.1 as a native component. SkyDrive cannot be uninstalled and furthers the operating system’s advertised “deep cloud integration”.
The problem for IT decision-makers is centered around the confusion that the choice of names created with the addition of SkyDrive Pro. The SkyDrive on your Surface tablet isn’t the same animal as SkyDrive Pro when it is install via Office 2013 or the available desktop standalone install.
The service is more like Dropbox, although many complain it is not as user friendly, and allows you to synchronize document libraries and other resources over multiple divices. It also isn’t necessarily a new concept. SharePoint, SP 2007 had a similar feature called “Office Groove” and in the 2010 release it was re-dubbed “Workspace”.
SkyDrive Pro however is a freshly baked approach that models itself far more after Dropbox than it does its predecessors. According to Redmond Magazine contributor Benjamin Niaulin “SkyDrive is a critical addition to SharePoint 2013”. He points out that although many compare SkyDrive Pro to Dropbox, thus raising those dreaded security concerns, for the enterprise “SkyDrive Pro is a different story.”
Microsoft has been pushing for users to not natively customize their SharePoint 2013 deployments, as many have in past versions, but rather focus any customizations via APIs and utilizing an application approach. That, combined with the enterprise focused security measures in SkyDrive Pro, is a nod to the need to satisfy the growing integration of often multiple mobile devices into everyday business life.
Now as companies look at their future SharePoint plans, they will need to consider carefully business driven application development in this new approach and how to maximize the usefulness and security of SkyDrive Pro. Many firms may find themselves unprepared to make the switch in how to support this sort of application development. However, thanks primarily to the widespread use of SharePoint in both mid-size and large enterprises, there are resources that can help.
A number of well educated development teams with years of SharePoint experience are available that can support your application development efforts. Many outsourcing firms specialize in providing expert consulting throughout the planning, development, deployment, and after deployment management of SharePoint 2013.
Ultimately, you and your IT team will need to make the hard decisions about how to get the most of either SharePoint or SkyDrive yet both are adding value to businesses all over the globe. Something to consider as you look forward at your IT future.