Google Drives business users to the cloud

Cloud Computing

Search giant Google has launched a cloud-based storage service to make it easier for business users to share files and collaborate on work projects.

The service is called Google Drive and provides end users with access to 5GB of free online storage.

Users can also purchase an extra 20GB of storage for $4 a month, up to a maximum of 16 TB.

As is the case with rival online storage service Dropbox, the Google Drive application can be installed on to any PC, Mac or Android device to provide users with easy access to their stored documents.

This is just the beginning for Google Drive. There is a lot more to come

The firm has also confirmed that an iOS version of the Google Drive app will be available soon.

In a blog post, announcing the product's launch, Google said the service would allow business users to swap files, collaborate on documents and share information with customers in real time.

"You can upload and access all of your files, including videos, photos, Google Docs, PDFs and beyond," said Scott Johnston, product manager at Google in the blog post.

"We know you rely on your files to get work done every day. Drive uses the same infrastructure as other Google Apps services, meaning it also has the same admin tools, security and reliability."

All of the data transferred between devices, servers and browsers that use Drive will be encrypted, said Johnston. Users can also set up an optional two-step verification process that prevents unauthorised access via their mobile phone.

Johnston also confirmed that Drive is an open platform and that several third-party developers are already working on projects to expand its capabilities.

"This is just the beginning for Google Drive," he added. "There is a lot more to come."

In a further blog post, Angela Eager, research director for enterprise software and application services at analyst TechMarketView, said Google Drive's pricing should prove popular with business users.

"Business users are likely to exceed the free [5GB] limit, thereby generating a new revenue stream for Google. More significantly, Google Drive's business model represents a shift for the company it will be going after revenue directly, rather than relying purely on indirect search and display advertising revenue streams," she wrote.

"The bottom line is that software and services suppliers will find themselves competing directly with Google for customers' subscription revenue and that will add a new dynamic to the marketplace."

Caroline Donnelly is the news and analysis editor of IT Pro and its sister site Cloud Pro, and covers general news, as well as the storage, security, public sector, cloud and Microsoft beats. Caroline has been a member of the IT Pro/Cloud Pro team since March 2012, and has previously worked as a reporter at several B2B publications, including UK channel magazine CRN, and as features writer for local weekly newspaper, The Slough and Windsor Observer. She studied Medical Biochemistry at the University of Leicester and completed a Postgraduate Diploma in Magazine Journalism at PMA Training in 2006.