Why Google's Gdrive won't set the cloud on fire

The market doesn't need another stand-alone cloud storage service, but integrating Gdrive with Google Apps makes sense

Google's Drive, aka Gdrive, cloud storage service is finally due for release, more than four years after it was first rumored in 2007. Clearly, users want cloud storage, both at the enterprise and the retail levels. Just look at the success of Dropbox and Box.net, not to mention Amazon.com's S3. Of course Apple is in that game as well with its iCloud document-syncing cloud service. I use them all.

So what's new with Gdrive? Not much.

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We've been able to store stuff for free using Google Apps for years. Moreover, we've had other more retail-oriented cloud storage systems, such as Dropbox, that already work pretty well and have been battle-tested. While I wouldn't put state secrets on these services just yet, their security is much better than a USB thumb drive's, which is the real-world alternative for most users.

Gdrive enters an established market as a me-too offering, competing against respected providers with cheap and even free versions. It's hard to imagine Gdrive will have much of an impact, but its integration with Google Apps and Google's App Engine PaaS could make Gdrive the default cloud storage service for existing Google business users.

Even so, Gdrive is still a yawner. The cloud storage providers have not seen a dramatic growth at the retail level, nor have they seen the bidding wars break out, such as an Apple taking a run at a Dropbox. (Apple reportedly considers cloud storage a feature, not a product.) Google is hoping that this current lack of market excitement means potential for a big payoff later on cloud usage becomes more and more common, especially across diverse devices -- and thus believes it has time to establish itself as a major provider.

But we don't need another pure cloud storage service. We have Dropbox and Box.net on the low end and S3 on the high end. Dozens of others, such as Accellion and YouSendIt, exist as well, especially in the enterprise-managed space that's trying to assert itself.

Rather than offer a stand-alone service, Google should simply bake Gdrive into Google Apps and App Engine, where it will get plenty use. Google will look silly if Gdrive comes in near the bottom of the cloud storage list, and it needs to understand that its has bigger fish to fry than cloud storage.

This article, "Why Google's Gdrive won't set the cloud on fire," originally appeared at InfoWorld.com. Read more of David Linthicum's Cloud Computing blog and track the latest developments in cloud computing at InfoWorld.com. For the latest business technology news, follow InfoWorld.com on Twitter.

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