Microsoft is ramping up efforts to win over customers from its cloud content storage rivals, offering free usage of OneDrive for Business platform in a new promotion.
Under the deal announced Tuesday, current customers of Box, Dropbox or Google can switch to OneDrive and use the service for free for the remainder of their existing contracts. The offer is valid until June 30 and is available for organizations that are not currently OneDrive for Business or Office365 customers. Those making the switch must also commit to moving a minimum of 500 users to the platform.
“We want new customers to be able to experience OneDrive without incremental costs above and beyond what they are paying for today,” said Seth Patton, OneDrive general manager of product marketing at Microsoft.
Forrester principal analyst Cheryl McKinnon said the cloud content platform market is “rapidly consolidating” into a handful of large providers, and the Microsoft move could entice customers already on the fence about switching or driven primarily by cost concerns.
But McKinnon argued that customers need to “look beyond just discounts and bold offers” to ensure they're investing in the content and collaboration services that best help employees and allow for easy sharing and collaboration when needed.
Patton said many organizations are keen to consolidate the number of vendors they rely on for content storage and collaboration. “They are interested in looking at OneDrive for Business but they have existing contracts that they are paying for which they can’t get out of,” he said. “We are reducing that cost and making it easier for new customers to move over.”
To that end, Microsoft provides FastTrack support services to help customers migrate onto OneDrive and Office365.
However, even with support from Microsoft, migrating from one cloud provider to another is no small feat. The offer may appeal to organizations that use cloud platforms for simple file storage or sharing internally, but it will not necessarily work for those that have applications more deeply embedded with their processes.
“Customers who are using these cloud platforms for more strategic content applications…may be less likely to leap within this window, and face rebuilding or reworking key apps or business processes,” McKinnon said.
OneDrive saw growth in 2017
Alongside the offer, Microsoft noted that 350,000 organizations now use OneDrive for Business, including both Office 365 and standalone customers. OneDrive is a standard part of the cloud application suite.
Among the customers to make the switch to OneDrive for Business are Accenture, Lowe’s, DBS Bank and Land O’Lakes. Meanwhile, monthly active usage rates doubled during 2017, and the volume of OneDrive for Business storage more than tripled.
Patton also pointed to recent additions and improvements to OneDrive for Business. This includes Files on Demand file sync service, File Restore and new search capabilities thanks to integration with Microsoft Graph.
McKinnon said the Office 365 suite is rich in what it offers, with only Google offering a near-comparable set of capabilities. “However, there is still some confusion among customers when trying to figure out how the O365 pieces can best complement each other.”
For example, OneDrive for Business is positioned as a personal file storage workspace, facilitating file or folder sharing with internal or external participants, yet SharePoint Online is pushed by Microsoft as the team or company-wide content repository for documents and related metadata.
"Box, Dropbox Business and Google have a clearer story when it comes to personal, team or enterprise content workspaces,” McKinnon said.
She added that the latest OneDrive for Business offer “adds fuel to the fire” in what is a hugely competitive cloud content management and collaboration market. “There has been tremendous innovation in this market over the last five years, with vendors traditionally known for ‘enterprise file sync and share (EFSS)’ capabilities moving into broader collaboration and cloud-native content repository services.”
Despite the competition, Microsoft has partnered with some of its cloud storage rivals, selling a file-sharing service with Box on its Azure cloud infrastructure platform, and integrating its Teams group chat with Dropbox. As for that Teams partnership, Patton said the aim is to provide options for customers.
Google Drive gets new commenting capabilities
Following the Microsoft announcement, Google today unveiled new commenting capabilities in its Google Drive file share and collaboration platform. The change make it possible to comment on a wider variety of file types in the Google Drive preview pane, including Microsoft Office files, PDFs and images. This means files don’t need to be converted into Google Docs, Sheets or Slides in order to provide feedback or assign tasks within a document – making it easier for G Suite users to collaborate with co-workers and other firms that may be Microsoft shops.
Google highlighted other examples of interoperability between G Suite and Microsoft products. One example is a Drive plug-in for Outlook that makes it easier to insert files stored in Google’s cloud platform into an Outlook email and to save attachments from Outlook to Drive.