You could think of Google Drive as Google’s answer to Dropbox or Microsoft’s SkyDrive or any one of a dozen cloud storage systems, but it’s not. Google Drive is so integrated with Google Apps for Business, Google Docs and Google that it is destined to become the seminal point of “the” paradigm shift to business in the cloud. Or, as I like to think of it, business with a single point of failure.
The allure of Google Drive is so great, that I am thinking about dumping Microsoft Exchange, Microsoft Office (specifically Outlook) and taking our relatively insignificant Gmail accounts and making them central to our business.
Google Apps for Business has some very attractive features. It’s relatively inexpensive, it’s integrated perfectly with Salesforce and now, it’s integrated perfectly with Google Drive. Seamless integration of all of our documents, shared Google Docs and Spreadsheets, client folders, scanned documents, email, calendar, etc. is like the ultimate geek fantasy.
Angel Geek: “Whoa … Hold on to your hard drive. This makes no sense at all.”
Devil Geek: “Why? What could possibly be bad about having all my stuff in one place?”
Angel Geek: “Duh! How about a single point of failure for my entire business.”
Devil Geek: “Yes … that would be bad.”
Let’s look at in another way. There’s a reason that a balanced portfolio of investments requires you to spread your money around. It allows you to survive an unexpected, catastrophic disaster with any one investment. A well diversified portfolio of investments, properly hedged, is the gold standard for professional hedge fund managers. In fact, the term “Hedge Fund,” actually describes the business model – a hedge against downside risks.
Now, as most of you know, I consider Information “the” currency of the Information Age. And right now, my business information is in my version of an Information Hedge Fund. I have documents stored locally, in the cloud, in another cloud. Financial data backed-up on physical media, in a different cloud and locally. You get my point. I’ve got information, the currency of my business, stored in all kinds of places – some safer than others.
So, what would possess me to put all of my InfoCurrency in one place? What is the upside? There is none. It is a remarkably stupid idea. Single threading your business through a single point of failure is like putting all of your money in one pretty good investment and hoping for the best. You could make a profit, but if anything goes wrong, you lose. Of course the things that can go wrong are completely out of your control, just like financial investments – you have no say over new regulations, lawsuits, market conditions, you’re just hoping that your investment advisor picked the right investments.
Will professional IT guys use Google Drive and Google Apps the way amateur IT guys use it? Of course not, the pros know how to hedge against single points of failure. But 99.99% of Google Customers are not IT professionals, they’re just people. And, people will not understand the inherent risks of a single information investment because they don’t think of Information as Currency.
The concept of a single point of failure is not specific to Google Drive. If you’re a Microsoft-oriented business (Office 365 and SkyDrive) your single point of failure will be at Microsoft. Same/same.
That said, now you know that Information is “the” currency of the Information Age and you are not going to be lulled into putting all of your data in one place. You are going to figure out how to spread it around into a plurality of safe to mostly-safe places. Because now you know that, in the event of a crash or a cyber-security breech or if something bad that none of us is smart enough to foresee happens, your InfoCurrency is safe and your business survives.