by Matt Kapko

Google Drive for Work gets new IT-friendly features

Mar 31, 20153 mins
Cloud ComputingCloud StorageOperating Systems

Google's premium cloud-storage service is getting an upgrade that includes new sharing controls for IT, information rights management tools and custom alerts.

During the coming weeks, Google will introduce a series of new sharing controls, security features and custom alerts for its premium cloud-storage service, Drive for Work. The service is the backbone for Google Apps for Work, the company’s set of cloud-based collaboration tools. Unlimited storage costs $10 per user, per month.

CIOs and IT administrators will soon be able to create groups for different departments in Drive for Work and set specific sharing settings for employees within those groups. Google will introduce new information rights management (IRM) options that let administrators disable download, print and copy features for files stored in their corporate Google Drives. Users will also soon be able to share files with individuals who don’t have Google accounts, and Google Apps administrators will be able to create custom alerts for specific actions, so they can tell staffers to download a new app or delete a shared calendar, for example.

[Related Feature: IT execs share experiences with Google for Work]

 “You might have [confidential] content that … is shared outside the domain,” says Scott Johnston, director of product management, Google Drive. “As an administrator, you might want to get an alert on that.”

The new features will start to show up in Drive accounts today, and they’ll continue to rollout through April. Google says it also wants to introduce support for file-sharing across multiple trusted domains, as well as access-expiration features so that certain files can be shared only for finite periods of time. 

googl drive for work file sharing Google

Google Drive for Work gives IT more content controls

More than 1,800 businesses sign up for Google Drive for Work every week, according to the company, and the IT administrators who lead the charge need assurances that they’ll have control over their content.

[Related News Analysis: Android for Work pushes Google further into enterprise]

Cloud storage has evolved into something “significantly better” than local storage because IT staff can control company-owned content in the cloud from a single online dashboard, Johnston says. The Drive for Work updates, including the long-requested IRM controls, are a result of feedback Google received from customers, he says.

“I think the cloud has caused them to think in different ways than they could before, and that’s where a lot of these features come from,” Johnston says. “The more we see cloud storage adopted, the more interesting feedback we get in these areas around control.”

The new controls for sharing by department and IRM should “resonate very well with IT departments,” according to Johnston. “It’s about giving them the freedom to roll out cloud storage but still give them control over that content.”