By Jennifer LeClaire / CIO Today. Updated April 24, 2012.
The Google Drive rumors are a reality. Google just rolled out its cloud-based service that lets you create, share, collaborate and otherwise store all your digital stuff.
Google Drive is a direct competitor to Dropbox. You can upload and access all your files, including videos, photos, Google Docs, PDFs and beyond. With Google Docs built into Google Drive, you can work on documents in real-time.
Google Drive is also pushing search features. You can search by keyword and filter by file type, owner and other designations. There's even Optical Character Recognition, or OCR, technology.
"Let's say you upload a scanned image of an old newspaper clipping. You can search for a word from the text of the actual article," explained Sundar Pichai, senior vice president of Chrome & Apps, in a blog post. "We also use image recognition so that if you drag and drop photos from your Grand Canyon trip into Drive, you can later search for [grand canyon] and photos of its gorges should pop up."
Is Cloud Backup Secure?
We caught up with Tom Gelson, a cloud strategist at Imation Scalable Storage, to get his thoughts on the potential impact of Google Drive. He told us interest in Google Drive reinforces growing demand for online or cloud backup.
"While Drive is primarily targeted at consumers, some companies will consider the solution for backup, and IT departments will have to contend with employees using Drive on their own for corporate data storage," Gelson said. "Cloud backup is certainly a practical and cost-effective storage tier, but security of data stored in Google Drive -- or any other cloud -- is essential.
To address cloud backup security, Gelson said IT departments should carefully evaluate vendors' data encryption strategy. As he sees it, an ideal security policy would dictate that data is encrypted on-premise at a company's site, en route to the cloud storage provider and at rest in the cloud.
But a compliant encryption policy doesn't end there, he said: "The encryption standards that Google and other cloud storage providers put in place are essentially ineffective if a provider can simply reset the key if a user loses or forgets it. A back door to encryption exposes the data to risk in the event that the cloud provider's systems are hacked.
The bottom line: If data security is important, which it likely is for all companies, make sure encryption is in place before using cloud backup to limit the company from possible hack or vulnerabilities, he said.
"If the encryption policies of Google Drive aren't up to par," Gelson added, "there are onsite data protection appliances available for companies that incorporate existing security infrastructure into various cloud backup offerings."
Google is offering 5 GB of storage for free. You can upgrade to 25 GB for $2.49 a month and 100 GB for $4.99 a month or even 1 TB for $49.99/month. When you upgrade to a paid account, your Gmail account storage will also expand to 25 GB.