Businesses, and even households, are increasingly migrating file storage responsibilities to cloud-based providers. Properly configured, a cloud storage solution can store users' documents, spreadsheets, presentations, photos, and even videos in the cloud so that a failed desktop or laptop doesn't result in the loss of those files. With correct configuration, a cloud storage solution also simplifies multiple users accessing, editing, and reviewing files using multiple devices.
In many organizations, a cloud solution already exists. Some users or departments, however, may be leveraging legacy or alternative cloud storage solutions. Needs, too, change over time, as do pricing and features. For these reasons, even organizations possessing a standardized cloud storage solution should routinely review how well the cloud solution continues fulfilling its needs and determine whether an alternative platform boasting new features might work better. Here are several elements Mac businesses should consider when conducting such a review to help find the best match.
Is Microsoft's hosted Exchange service powering back-end email?
If Office 365 powers the organization's email services, rolling up Office application licensing and cloud storage within the same account often makes sense and provides economies of scale. Centralizing the organization's cloud services within a single reliable platform can eliminate confusion arising from attempting to maintain multiple cloud accounts—one for email, another for licensing, and a third for file storage and team collaboration.
Does the organization possess its own email server?
Organizations administering their own email infrastructure possess an advantage, because a third party's mail services aren't required and can be neatly separated from cloud storage, collaboration, and remote access responsibilities. In such circumstances, Apple's iCloud capabilities may prove more attractive, especially for smaller offices, as iCloud's file storage capabilities are automatically integrated within users' Macs, iPads, and iPhones, whereas Office 365 accounts are required for readily integrated OneDrive—Microsoft's cloud-based platform—access.
Office suite vs. computing platform loyalty
I'll go on record as stating Mac organizations are more likely to change their Office productivity platform (namely Word, Excel, and PowerPoint vs. Pages, Numbers, and Keynote) than they are to change computer platforms (Windows vs. OS X). Because Microsoft's Office applications work easily with both OneDrive and iCloud, iCloud may prove a safer long term bet. While Apple firms might switch from using Microsoft Office in favor of the Apple productivity tools, or vice versa, it's unlikely any Office app change would ever break the cloud-based platform in place. But the only way a Mac office would seemingly lose iCloud access would be to abandon the Apple platform altogether, which I believe is less likely than simply changing Office app manufacturers, a change Apple's iCloud readily accommodates.
The Box or Dropbox option
Some organizations prefer the flexibility and platform neutrality Box.com or Dropbox offer. Both cloud file storage and sharing solutions boast OS X, iPad, and iPhone compatibility, and they also work well with any Windows (or even Android, for that matter) systems the Apple organization or its authorized partners might use. Both Box and Dropbox also offer dedicated apps for iPhones and iPads that help integrate cloud storage operation directly within the devices Mac offices use daily.
What cloud storage option do you prefer, and why? Let us know in the discussion thread below.
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Erik Eckel owns and operates two technology companies. As a managing partner with Louisville Geek, he works daily as an IT consultant to assist small businesses in overcoming technology challenges and maximizing IT investments. He is also president of Eckel Media Corp., a communications company specializing in public relations and technical authoring projects.