The Cloud Server: A Paradigm Shift

One of the most significant developments of the past decade has been the advent of cloud technology, allowing businesses and organisations around the world to store information remotely, accessible from any location in the world. This week, we highlight the paradigm shift between cloud storage and storage on an internal, office-based server and the implications this can have on the permissions and file security. Check out the full video above and subscribe to our mailing list for more advice from Fintan and the team!

This is a topic that came up recently in some work we did for a customer, and we immediately realised that this would be a great discussion point for this week’s blog. In many cases, a traditional network will host shared files located on a server, with documents normally shared by emailing them back and forth. Meanwhile, Google users will be used to working collaboratively on documents within a shared folder – a core feature of MyDrive.

The key difference here, however, is that if you placed a document in that shared folder, you still held ownership of that document – regardless of how many users that document was shared with. So, you could have two companies placing documents into a shared folder, with document ownership held by an individual member of one company. Now we’ve moved on to shared drives (formerly Team Drives) with Google, prompting a real paradigm shift in how companies interact with each other. 

Losing Access To Files, The Risk is Real

We’ve all experienced the personal frustration of losing access to a file. At Damson Cloud, we’ve found that this normally occurs in three scenarios. In the first and second scenario, you will own the shared drive and it will hold all of your internal information, including HR documents and other data. The next scenario is where you may have a shared drive that you are adding a client to, or an external contractor, for example. In this scenario you still have a significant level of control, and if set up correctly will keep your information safe and secure (depending on the level of permission you give that external party, of course).

In this scenario, you can give those external parties full access, allowing them to move files in and out of the folder. Damson Cloud recommends avoiding this practice unless absolutely necessary, and we suggest allowing permissions for adding and editing files at the very most. This is by far the safest way of doing things and is what we recommend in the majority of scenarios with our customers. 

The final scenario sees you collaborating with another company that also uses Google Workspace (formerly G Suite). Who should set up the shared drive? After all – whoever sets it maintains ultimate access and ownership to all of its files and folders. This can create a bit of a conundrum, where they have access to another company’s shared drive and confidential documents which is a fear for both parties. This means that permissions and ownership belong with that other company – so, if I place a file into that folder, it becomes the property of that company. This represents a significant change and shift in how people collaborate and work together. With this shift, it adds a significant risk for the company that doesn’t own the shared cloud space. 

The File Ownership Conundrum

Like many companies working in the cloud space, Damson Cloud has experienced this directly: that frustrating event where your permission to a certain file or folder is removed. There may be any number of reasons for this happening, and in our case this happened due to the introduction of a new policy in the company we were working with. In this instance, we didn’t have a copy of the documents.

Conundrums like this are only going to increase with the continued adoption of remote working and cloud-based information storage. It also raises questions around the contract and agreement you have between your clients, customers and contractors. If there’s a conflict, what do you do? We normally recommend that our customers set up the shared drive – but what if you’re working with a company with a similar policy? In cases like this, a contractual agreement needs to be put in place. 

It goes further than this, however, and this paradigm shift should really get you looking into the internal processes at your own business or organisation. If you have a situation where you are accessing an external shared drive, you must have a procedure that outlines times during a project where a copy of that document is maintained within your own internal shared solution. This helps mitigate the risk of losing files, and it’s something that we would have in place during a project in case something happens – including policy changes and anything else. 

It will certainly take a while for companies to sort this out, and in the long run, we see a joint shared environment that the likes of Google or Microsoft might think about doing – a space for both companies, almost like an escrow account that your files could stay in. We think that’s a great idea, but it doesn’t exist yet…

More About Damson Cloud

This brings us to the end of this week’s blog, and it’s a topic that’s sure to get our followers talking. We’d love to hear about some of the scenarios around file ownership and shared storage that you guys have experienced yourselves – what solution did you come up with to meet this challenge? Let us know in the comments, along with anything we may have missed!

As a longstanding member of the Google Cloud Partner program, Damson Cloud specialises in bringing people and ideas together through new ways of working. We champion change management and digital transformation using some of the internet’s most trusted solutions, including Google Workspace, Happeo and Jamboard. To find out more about our services, check out our library of tutorial videos or our blog.