SkyDrive or OneDrive, SharePoint, Yammer, lync – where to start? what to install for users? Which to use when? Many of us go through these questions when facing customers or when looking to provide the best service to our internal users. So much information is flowing around the web but its always tough to assimilate in one place and get a holistic view of all these services. So I thought, why not create a series on Office 365 explaining each of these services in depth helping our technical and business users to make informed decision.
As first part of this series I wrote about how moving to Office 365 can help you utilize various channels and services. And today I am going to dive deeper into the benefits, limitations, features of OneDrive for Business (ODFB) and many things you didn’t know even existed.
What is OneDrive for Business
A cloud service which provides personal library intended for storing and organizing your work documents.
Where can I get it?
It comes part of SharePoint 2013 on premise or if you are on Office 365 you can buy subscription plan. Remember even though it comes part of on prem SP 2013 the service still runs on Microsoft cloud. Check the table below for latest pricing and comparable features of OneDrive personal and OneDrive for Business.
Update: Thanks to Eric Addo for confirming the availability of MFA for OneDrive personal with Microsoft account.
Tell me more about OneDrive for Business and how can I integrate it within my business?
Last week Microsoft announced a standalone version of ODFB. This actually makes it a very strong contender for piloting new businesses with the standalone version and later upgrading to comprehensive plans. here are some interesting facts you probably did not know:
- One not so publicly available fact is that you can ONLY upgrade standalone version to Office 365 E Family plan.
- Microsoft announced OneDrive for Business Sync for Mac client will be coming by end of 2014. Review it here: Mac Client
- Multi factor Authentication (MFA) – Multi-factor authentication increases the security of user logins for cloud services above and beyond just a password. With Multi-Factor Authentication for Office 365, users are required to acknowledge a phone call, text message, or an app notification on their smartphone after correctly entering their password. Only after this second authentication factor has been satisfied can a user sign in. Which means if you are on one of the Office 365 plans and using ODFB you automatically can make use of MFA.
- How to integrate SharePoint 2010 or 2013 on premise with ODFB? – OneDrive for Business redirection can be accomplished with SharePoint 2010 – while SharePoint 2013 Service Pack 1 adds a native configuration option in Central Administration, in 2010 you can use Trusted My Site Host locations to redirect users personal site (OneDrive for Business) to Office 365.
- What happens to user data when a provisioned user account is removed (e.g. sabbatical) but then re provisioned at a later date- Data stays cached and is not remove, although the period for which it stays is unconfirmed.
- A user can have OneDrive for Business and OneDrive personal side by side w/o any issues of sharing as they both are separate consumer offerings
- Security and Compliance – Microsoft’s focus on security spans hardware, software, the physical security of their datacenters, policies and controls, and verification by independent auditors. They break it down it in two categories a) Customer Controls b) built in security. Built-in security represents all the measures that Microsoft takes on behalf of all Office 365 customers to protect your information and run a highly available service. Customer controls are features that enable you to customize Office 365 to meet the specific needs of your organization. You can get details about both types of security features from the Security whitepaper in the Office 365 Trust Center which outlines Microsoft’s practices, compliance criteria, and more. The one concern I keep hearing from my clients is whether the document stored in OneDrive be safe and not allowed to be downloaded to personal devices. That’s a very valid concern and solution to that is Microsoft Rights Management in Office 365. This policy is attached to the document/data, so it applies no matter where your information lives, downloaded or emailed-it travels with the document. Rights Management lets you assign policies to email, SharePoint Online libraries, individual Office documents, and more. It’s available as part of Office 365 E3 & E4 plans but could be added to E1 and A2. Office team has more information about this topic here
- Desktop Syncing – You can sync ODFB or SharePoint site libraries to your computer and then access your library files in File Explorer instead of in a web browser even OFFLINE. All updates sync to OneDrive for Business or site libraries whenever you’re online. Because I personally have had some syncing problems (keep this link handy sync) due to which I will caution you to fully resolve any syncing issues or risk exposing your confidential content. Take an example of a user who encounters issues with the sync client and later departs the organization leaving your administrator to figure out how to get his data out of the cloud. Now once you have sync issues it might be tough to recover leading to your sensitive data being exposed.
- Can you pre provision OneDrive for Business spaces for users? – Yes. Take an example where you are migrating from earlier versions of SharePoint MySites or other storage/collaboration platform and you do not want to wait for a user to click on the generated ODFB link (imagine waiting on 1000’s of users….ha!) to initiate the provisioning, in that case you can use CSOM or Office Apps to pre provision. Microsoft community is helping us get there, check these links : CSOM & AMS
- Item and Sync Limits – There has been a lot of confusion especially due to SharePoint library limits being different from ODFB. OneDrive for Business allows 20,000 item sync whereas SP library allows 5,000 item sync, that means if you go over that limit your library breaks. If you go over 5,000 items in all folders you will lose some administrative capabilities such as setting permissions, creating indexed columns, and configuring the document library. You can
however, have more than 5,000 items if done correctly (nested sub folders) and you don’t need to modify any settings after you pass that threshold. There
is a view threshold for “viewing” – but, for syncing it’s 20,000. A possible solution is to turn on metadata based navigation, and configure the most important columns as either key filters or hierarchies. That has the effect of making it really easy to create selective queries over large lists, and has built in fallback behavior for times when the user accidently selects too large a data set. Microsoft has extensive documentation on designing large lists here.
- Migrate Data from Google Drive – No out of the box support but tons of third party vendors, one notable is Metavis
- Sharing – The documents and folders you store in OneDrive for Business are private until you decide to share them. When you share documents and folders, you can decide whether to let people edit them, or just view them. You can send onetime doc requests to external users from ODFB today. Check here & here to learn how to.
- Start yammer conversation from within OneDrive for Business document – Click “Post” in the document callout and communicate with your peers right from within the context of that document, and improve the discoverability of deliverables. Here is a great post by Christophe Fiessinger on the office blog
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- Nice blog about redirection of OneDrive for Business to O365 – TechNet Article
- Everyone gets 25GB for everything – primarily files, but could be for sub sites and lists within the personal site. You are not able to set it below 25GB, and can up it in increments (50GB, 100GB, 250GB, 500GB, and 1024GB); review this latest blog about new scale for storage: Tenant Storage . Remember the my root site in the SPO admin center does not relate to individual users’ personal aforementioned quota. You can adjust the root site’s quota like any other site collection in SPO admin center, but it is not entirely necessary beyond the design elements common to everyone’s personal site (like the About Me page).
- One recent announcement from Microsoft was around OWA and OneDrive integration- Outlook Web App now includes full integration with OneDrive for Business, allowing you to easily share files stored in the cloud as attachments in your email. There are two ways you can share a file with Outlook Web App and OneDrive for
Business: 1. When you send an attachment from your computer or device you can now automatically upload the file to your OneDrive cloud drive and send it as a link and 2. You can also easily attach a file directly from your OneDrive cloud drive when sending an email in Outlook Web App. Both these methods makes it possible to change permissions on the document from within the email irrespective of permissions set in SharePoint library or OneDrive for Business folder. Screenshots below will give you some idea of how powerful this is and it ties directly with the Information Rights we discussed earlier. read evolution of email for more details
But just like any other product, ODFB also have limitations. The good news is that Microsoft has most on their roadmap for this year.
- Share Folder – Google drive allows you to share folder while OneDrive for Business does not- although you can use “Shared for everyone” folder to drag drop your files. This actually is a killer for many when it comes to adoption – users don’t want to have to share each document one at a time.
- Not possible to sync an individual document inside a folder
- Yammer Group docs do NOT show up in your OneDrive for Business ‘shared with me’ folder – This one is very near on the roadmap
- Synchronization of SharePoint team site content is limited to WIN32 client
Hopefully you were able to see the horsepower and value OneDrive for Business adds to your business in form of sharing & collaboration while maintaining the parameters of security and compliance. At the end of the day we all need to realize that the real value of these products lies in utilizing technology, process, and people to build a community where collaboration can thrive.