OneDrive for Business is online storage intended for storing and sharing your business and work related documents. It's the next evolution of ‘My Documents’ or your ‘user folder’ on a local file server.
In this article, we are going to look at the history of OneDrive for Business, its relationship with other products from Microsoft, such as SharePoint Online and Office 365, and, mainly, what functionality does it actually offer for business users.
A Brief History of OneDrive for Business
To fully understand what OneDrive for Business is, we have to first take a quick look at where it came from. Back in 2007, Microsoft introduced a brand new collaboration software designed to allow multiple people to work on the same project and continue their work even from remote locations and without a connection to the Internet. This tool was named Microsoft Office Groove, and it could do just about everything from communication and discussion board management, file sharing, project organization with the built-in calendar, and others.
However, Groove never caught on. Instead, with the arrival of Office 2010, it was rebranded as SharePoint Workspace. The main reason for this was the change in direction of many products from Microsoft. SharePoint Workspace was created to provide easy access to existing SharePoint content either online or offline.
You are now probably scratching your head and wondering what is SharePoint and what does it have to do with OneDrive. Simply put, SharePoint is a powerful web application platform from Microsoft designed to facilitate team collaboration, communication, data sharing, organization, and much more. It can do some pretty impressive stuff and some of the biggest companies on this planet rely on it for their day-to-day operation.
What matters to us, is the fact that SharePoint can store and organize all company documents and manage their sharing, versioning, and access control.
To better reflect SharePoint’s relationship with Microsoft’s increasingly popular personal file hosting service, SkyDrive, the tool was, once again, renamed. This time, it was called SkyDrive Pro. The history of OneDrive for Business would probably end right there, if it wasn’t for a lawsuit with British television broadcaster BSkyB for using the word “Sky”. Long story short, Microsoft lost and on January 27, 2014, renamed SkyDrive to OneDrive.
OneDrive Versus OneDrive for Business
Regular OneDrive is a consumer cloud storage service that is offered for free to every user with Microsoft account (similar to Dropbox or Google Drive).. Each Microsoft account comes with 5 GB of free storage space, which can be expanded with various promotional deals, or with paid subscription plans. This consumer storage space is called OneDrive.
OneDrive for Business is, instead, manage by an organization and associated with your organization account. It can be accessed either via web browser through the Office 365 portal or by using one of many available OneDrive for Business applications for desktop computers and mobile devices.
OneDrive for Business adds an access to SharePoint libraries, improves control over content approval, versioning, reporting, and can be extended with many available third-party add-ons.
Files stored on OneDrive for Business can be synchronized with your desktop computer and mobile devices with dedicated applications, as well as accessed online from anywhere through a regular web browser. Latest versions of OneDrive integrate online document editing with Office Online, real-time coauthoring, document versioning, and multi-factor authentication
Features of OneDrive for Business
OneDrive for Business can help you keep track of all relevant documents, quickly find what you are looking for, share and collaborate on content with your coworkers, and synchronize everything with local devices.
The business version of OneDrive is built with Office 365's privacy and security, and all documents are private by default. You can, of course, change this as you wish, within the limits of your organizational setting. To save yourself some precious time, you can follow documents that are important to you, and even receive suggestions on what might interest you based on particular keywords.
To share a document, all you need to do is get a link by right-clicking on a file or a folder, selecting one of several sharing options, and pasting it to your instant messenger or email. You can also invite people to collaborate with you by inputting their email address. OneDrive for Business also keeps track about who can access which document and folder and allows you to easily manage these permissions.
Files can be synchronized with your computer using the OneDrive for Business Next Generation Sync Client, which is available for Windows and Mac OS X. It allows you to easily add SharePoint libraries for offline use, and have all changes automatically synchronize with their online versions next time you are online.
- Security features you can use to help protect sensitive information and comply with industry-standard regulations.
- All-cloud, on-premises, or hybrid-cloud options so you can store and access your files virtually anytime, anywhere.
- Seamless use of Microsoft tools to view, edit, sync, and share documents.
- Peace of mind in knowing that your employees’ files are separate from public data.
- Minimized need for third-party software by gaining access to built-in features such as multiuse co-authoring, full text search and eDiscovery.
- More space for your data with 1 TB of personal storage per user.
How Does Office 365 Fit into This?
OneDrive for Business is a part of Office 365, but it’s not the same as your Office 365 team site. Companies that are using Office 365 automatically get 1 TB of OneDrive for Business storage space for employees. The “private-by-default” nature of OneDrive makes it work best as a place for personal documents and various drafts. On the other hand, team site libraries are best for organizing individual projects and quickly sharing relevant documents with other team members.
SharePoint is the large platform used by an entire company, while OneDrive is supposed to allow individual users to pull relevant data for their individual needs.
So should I use OneDrive for Business?
Despite its confusing history, OneDrive for Business is a proven product with a clearly defined goal: to offer employees and individual team members a reliable cloud storage managed by their company. This leads to improved collaboration, higher productivity, and greatly decreases the risk of losing important data. It doesn’t matter whether it’s just a part of your SharePoint platform or used as a stand-alone product, OneDrive for Business is a testament to how fiercely is Microsoft ready to compete for the position of industry leader.