There’s no place like Microsoft, and there’s no need to leave.
That’s what the world’s largest software company hopes you’ll believe when you get a look at OneDrive for Business, its Enterprise File Sync and Share (EFSS) service.
While there’s nothing wrong with the idea — being everything to everyone isn’t a bad business strategy, if the community appreciates it and you can pull it off. And Microsoft thinks it’s off to good start. It owns the desktop, after all. Most of us have grown up using and are now raising kids who also use Word, Excel, PowerPoint …
So, earlier this week, when John Case, corporate vice president of Microsoft’s Office Division, announced the company would be increasing the default storage on its EFSS offering from 25GB to 1 TB, it seemed like a sweet deal. In fact, it still does. Ditto for granting the same allotment to Office 365 ProPlus subscribers.
But is giving away extra storage the winning ticket in the EFSS space?
Cheap and Cheaper
Cloud storage is becoming dirt cheap, after all. Companies like Google and Amazon are practically giving it away.
Microsoft’s Case does, however, offer a secondary pitch. He writes that “As important as robust file sync/share is, we believe it’s only useful if it’s part of a holistic and comprehensive solution for team-based productivity and collaboration. “
(Can you say Office 365 or SharePoint Online?)
He then goes on to list five ways in which it’s delivered; the most compelling (though obvious) of which is native integration with Office documents.
Now if Microsoft could turn the clock back a few years, before the consumerization of IT and just as mobile was taking off, he might have an easy win.
But it’s 2014. And while Cloud and its storage costs are important to IT, the end user doesn’t really care about them unless they’re causing problems.
It’s the Mobile UI, productivity and functionality that rule.
Consider, too, that if you ask the average worker to name the top 20 apps he uses on his phone or iPad, Microsoft OneDrive won’t hit the list, neither would Office.
We’ve learned other ways of getting “work” things done on our mobile devices.
That can quickly change, of course, and it probably will to some extent when it comes to Office, since it’s finally available on the iPad.
But does that mean that OneDrive will become the default for storing, synching and sharing documents, and other content, on the Cloud? This has yet to be seen. It doesn’t rank among the top ten platforms in Forrester’s most recent Sync and Share wave.
A recent survey sponsored by Enterprise Mobility vendor Wandera found that workers gravitate mostly toward Dropbox. Google Drive comes in second and Box comes in third. OneDrive isn’t even on their radar.
Add to that, that the IDC recently named EMC’s Syncplicity as the fastest growing EFSS solution.
That being said, a very small fraction of EFSS services are being officially used in, and paid for by, the Enterprise.
“We’re in the early innings of the (EFSS) game,” said Ted Schadler, Vice President & Principal Analyst at Forrester Research.
When you consider that 85 percent of the 225,000 organizations at which someone is using market-leading Box aren’t paying anything, there’s obviously a long way to go. (Note: 34,000 organizations are paying to use Box’s services.)
And Box’s stats probably don’t even hold a candle to Dropbox’s when you take into account that a good number of Dropbox’s 275 million users, who signed-up as consumers, are also using its file sharing service on the job.
Dropbox is doing its utmost to lure that crowd into opting-in to a new and improved Dropbox for Business by giving away free personal Dropbox storage space in exchange. The idea being that if workers sign up for a service that they love, and if IT finally, deems it Enterprise admissible, that a massive number of paid enterprise users will be won in short order.
There’s no telling how well this is going or how many people actually know about the offer because Dropbox announced it at the same it launched a Gallery app for consumers. Shortly after that, a controversy erupted over the company’s appointing Condoleezza Rice to its board.
Suffice it to say, that Dropbox for Business is not what people are talking about. But that doesn’t mean that people aren’t using it, or, more than likely, its consumer version at work.
We can say this with some confidence because a recent (March 2014) Dropbox commissioned study by Forrester Research reveals that 70 percent of employees use file sync and share every single day; and that nearly one in five use it hourly.
So it’s no wonder that Microsoft is offering to “help organizations migrate data from their existing solutions to OneDrive for Business” or that it called its most recent OneDrive post, “Thinking Outside the Box.”
While Microsoft was clearly targeting Dropbox and Box in its headline, it went after the entire marketplace in its post:
File sync and share solutions represent key capabilities that keep people on the same page and responsive. There are several solutions offered, many from companies that have sprung up to focus exclusively on this market. Some have come from the consumer world and are new to the enterprise software market and the requirements around delivering enterprise-grade cloud services. Others are focused on the enterprise, but only as a point solution. Few are prepared to meet the evolving needs of businesses looking for a holistic and comprehensive approach to meeting the full needs of their employees as they live a cloud first, mobile first work style.”
They should have added “Microsoft first” to that last sentence, especially as it relates to Office365 which isn’t open to other EFSS providers or people who keep their files on other clouds.
And while some might call this a slam-dunk by Microsoft, others might see it as a reason to participate in a different game — one that truly embodies sharing.