What is the cloud?
By Omar Hutchens
It’s 2018 and people are still not sure what it is, maybe it's a mystery of life? To put it in simple terms: It is a hard drive in the sky. A remote location that has your data that can accessed from anywhere (depending on the service and the application you are using). That’s it! Nothing complicated and no IT jargon that is hard to understand...right? That being said, let’s talk about services. Everyone now a days offers some type of cloud based backup or service. Amazon, Microsoft, DropBox, Apple, and so many other companies. Today, I will concentrate only on Google services because ...well why not! As usual, there are always a number of competitors out there and in my opinion it’s great to see that there is a plethora of services to help businesses stay connected. Yes, Office 365's OneDrive (Microsoft) and Amazon have their cloud storage services too, but we can talk about them another day.
Back on Track. Running a business big or small in general takes work from a number of people. Instead of racking up a bill with an IT consulting firm to create crazy logistics with shared folders... why not take control of your own storage? Choosing the best service will always determine whether it fits your business or not. Here’s what to consider:
Collaboration within the team
SWEET SWEET GSUITE
Picture this… Sicily, 1924… I’m just kidding BUT seriously picture one place for email, storage, event tracking, team collaboration, administration, and room for growth! Here I go again, getting the internal geek inside me excited! G Suite Provides all of that, part of the Google Cloud family. Let us break it down further and see how this benefits a workplace...ready?
Gmail. Everyone has heard of Gmail at least once in their life. It’s a great email service that has a lot of people participating already. Now, apply that to your business and you get your own domain (ie: firstname.lastname@example.org) and group distribution lists. That’s a no brainer and email is essential in today’s tech hungry business world. Onto Storage! All users are given 30GB of storage off the bat. With upgrades to Enterprise or Team editions, the storage becomes unlimited. Wowza! Calendar is great to stay on schedule. Hangouts is great to send a quick note to someone via instant message. OR even having a virtual video meeting!
Google Drive and Team Drive are great tools to implement for multiple users with different job roles (ie: accounting or sales). Share documents, spreadsheets, or presentations with team members or external users along with specific permissions. Collaborate. This is a big term when it comes to Google services. This feature was a big step for cloud services and a big front runner as to why businesses should get on board. Working through shared spreadsheets and allowing multiples users to access and update data live! In other words, anyone given the editing permission on a document or spreadsheet can see if there is anyone working on data as well and forget about the “user is currently in spreadsheet” message!
There’s no “i” in Team
Team drive is yet another addition to G Suite that keeps businesses connected to their shared data. Permissions on Team Drive are not that different from an individual’s drive permission scheme. Consider it a group box that multiple users have access to. The great part is that if you onboard someone new or someone decides to take an opportunity outside of your business, then adding them or removing them from those team drives is a breeze. Create different teams such as HR or Sales and add people in those teams that only have access to that information. All permissions are handled by the administrator. That’s it! Need more info on that? Don’t be afraid to read through their easy to understand tutorials...go ahead… it’s ok. Here’s a link.
Secret Weapon to the Rescue!
It can get tiresome to keep opening browser windows and keeping track of what each tab is (and having multiple tabs open is a conversation for another day… it can get messy!), instead google thought of a great idea and integrated file access right from your desktop! Gasp! Alright I don’t want to sound too excited, but it’s awesome to see that installing something as simple as Google File Stream can help with productivity. It’s a secret weapon to have under your organizational utility belt. Installing File Stream on your Mac or PC is great because the access to those files can either be in Mac's Finder or Windows's File Explorer just like any of your other folders. Check it out here if you’d want to either install it or learn more directly from Google. Oh, make sure you’re running approved operating system requirements. Don’t be that user still running on Windows XP and trying to use 2018 software...not going to end well.
With great power, comes great responsibility.
Having a set of best practices within a business on procedures and protocols is always wise to ensure that everyone is on the same page. Pay great attention to the sharing feature and who has access. G Suite provides great options when sharing. Membership can be managed individually or with groups. It is best recommended to use groups so when a change is made, the change is also made automatically within the Google Team Drive membership. When using a group, it is recommended to give the lowest appropriate permission level. Higher permission levels can be assigned to individuals in that group as needed. Give Full access to a few people only, while giving specific groups and other individuals Edit access. Full access permissions include the ability to delete files, manage team members, and change the name of the Team Drives. For more information on Team Drives membership and permissions please head over to Google’s page for structures on what is best for you here.
You get a drive, and you get a drive!
Of course this is just scratching the surface because of the amount of services that are offered with G Suite and Google Services. Googling is never frowned upon...so go ahead and Google more on this topic! On to Price. Google has tiered pricing levels: Basic, Business & Enterprise. Ranging from $5 to $25 per user. If you're a non-profit it's free! Just have to run eligibility through TechSoup, but not hard at all! Review the Google for Nonprofits eligibility guidelines here. Choosing something that will impact your entire business is hard to digest sometimes, but this should ease up some of that confusion. You can always talk to someone, and guess what? We’re here for that if there is something that isn’t clear to understand, just head over to our Ultimate G Suite eGuide. With that said, I hope that there was some level of “Ahh ha!” from your end. Getting your gears in motion for a better organizational future. Go...decide...oh and live long and prosper in the Cloud!