I write about IT and web development from the business, sales and marketing angle.
written by Višnja Željeznjak on January 4, 2012
There is no way Google could resist launching their own cloud storage service during 2012.
Mashable is almost teasing Google to go for it, after Techcrunch spilled the beans on Google Drive. Google's biggest competitors - Amazon, Microsoft and Apple - all have their own, more or less successful, versions od the cloud.
While I wait, I dreamed up a few neat features that our internet agency would very much profit from, mostly in terms of saved time. We are a project-oriented web development agency. Every internet domain is a project to us. All the information we keep about the work we have to do for clients, is organized by domain names, across many apps we use: Google Docs, a source control system, and our own project management and ticketing web application.
Right now, we are losing time copying and pasting attachments from clients' many emails. The thing is that we never liked the idea of giving clients access to our ticketing system - so we never implemented this. Access means managing their user accounts, answering to even more support calls about forgotten passwords, and writing extensive help and faqs about using our app. A simple, account-less and download-less way of securely uploading large files for clients would be a godsend.
So currently, most clients are emailing us pictures for website design, one picture per email, of course. Many of them are emailing us Word files with embedded BMPs. Some of them love sending us DVDs with 4 gigs of pictures to choose from. The more advanced ones are using a local uploading service that crashes more than it works.
On Google Drive, we would organize all the files and folders just like we organize our source control system: by projects.
Every time a person sends a file, the file gets automatically synced to Google Drive. Minimum folder management is a must, of course: Let's say that Google Drive would let me create a new folder for a new, unrecognized email sender - right from the Gmail interface. I could rename that folder to a real project name later.
Sometimes a client sends us an email containing rich instructions about what he wants us to do. He usually sends a .doc attachment with text and embedded images. Gmail could recognize his email address, and Google Drive would know that attachments from his email (or his email's domain) belong to a specific folder on Google Drive.
So, when I clicked "Save this attachment to Google Drive" button located next to every attachment in Gmail, the .doc file would be 1) automatically converted to Google Docs native format, and 2) saved into the appropriate folder. This folder would be named after client's domain, and the folder would already be shared properly across my company.
Oh, how I want this feature. It is one of the better things Dropbox does.
So using Google Drive, clients could upload files to our company's public folder. It's a "misc" folder, where we would allow upload only to users with a link to the folder. Clients would *not* be able to access nor see any other files but their own. We would move their files to a newly created folder as soon as we received their files. This way, files would be secure from prying eyes; Clients wouldn' have to learn a new upload application, nor would they have to download any application for uploading into our cloud. All they would have to have, is a Google cccount.
Use case: Let's say an email, containing attachments, arrives in our inbox. It's from a new potential client who wants us to use his files as documentation for creating a sales quote. Since he's a new client and never contacted us before, no folder exists for him on our Google Drive yet. Also, we don't want to create a new folder every time a person asks us fo a sales quote (If we had $10 for every person who did...). In his email, I could click "Save this attachment to Google Drive" and all the attachments would be stored in the public folder.
We would need a good API in order to connect our project management app to Google Drive. This way, Google Drive would save us a ton of software development time, and we would continue to use Google Drive for storage of all project files. I was just in the middle of researching Dropbox as a solution for project files storage, when rumors about the probable existence of Google Drive broke out. I am waiting...
What version control systems mean to programmers, Google Drive would mean to project teams. Why should developers have all the fun?
The sender could use Google Drive's versioning system to update the files he sent to us. No resending over email necessary. Oh, what a dream come true that would be! Of course, Google Drive would have to somehow visually notify me that files have changed, and how they changed. Right now, Google Docs has only a very basic version control. Currently it allows you to upload the same file into the same folder twice, and treats those two uploads as two different files. This is bad, but I understand how complicated this must be for Google to solve (merging changes safely is one of the biggest challenges in fully-blown source control systems).
Right now, I hear that people are renaming unsupported file extensions and uploading them to Google Docs. While this isn't unusable, it's impractical.
I don't want to store my music online (I pay Grooveshark to stream it for me). I don't want any more picture album apps (I chose Google+ picture album app and that's it). I want a fully-blown, professional and for-business-use Google cloud, and I'm not afraid to pay for it. Someone please tell Google.
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