If you're working to replace your file server with Google Drive, let us help! Google incentivises us to help organizations of all shapes and sizes.
Cloud file server reporting for duty
The Google Drive engineering team has been extremely busy this past year. Two huge new features include Team Drives and File Stream. Team Drives require G Suite Business, Enterprise, or Education. File Stream will be available to all versions.
If you're planning to leverage Google Drive to replace your file server, we recommend signing up for the File Stream Early Adopter Program.
Create your Google Groups
Google Groups is a tremendously powerful feature of G Suite. Groups are an important asset as you work to configure and maintain security permissions. You could create a Marketing group for example. When an employee changes roles, joins the organization or leaves the organization you can update their Group status accordingly. You'll use Groups when sharing Team Drives so rather than going through and trying to find all the places content has been shared with a User, their Group status automatically updates permissions across the board.
Team Drives is not included with G Suite Basic (the $5/user per month version of G Suite) so you'll want to upgrade to G Suite Business to take advantage of Team Drives. If you're only managing a handful of Users, Team Drives may not be needed. However, for those working with dozens, hundreds, or thousands of employees Team Drives is extremely useful.
With Team Drives, the 'organization' becomes the Owner of any file or folder added to the Team Drive folder. Note, anyone with 'Full access' can Delete content from Team Drives. You'll want to limit Full Access to a select subset of Users with a strong understanding of how changes to Drive content impact, other Users.
The change in ownership to the organization is a huge change to the historically user-centric nature of Google Drive content ownership.
File Stream is still in the Early Adopter stage of its release. We're hoping to see General Availability soon. The File Stream application replaces the traditional Google Drive application installed on a User's PC or macOS device. The locally installed application plays an important role when working with traditional file formats like Word (.docx), Excel (.xlsx), etc. File Stream, unlike the current Google Drive application, also allows a User to see Team Drives content in Windows File Explorer or macOS Finder. Users can access Drive just like they're used to accessing a legacy file share. (There are some good alternatives to installing Google Drive or File Stream locally.) Another great attribute enabled by File Stream is the file path which becomes a Universal Naming Convention (UNC) resource.
There are 3 primary resources that need to be considered when migrating.
Metadata (data about date)
You will want to give your Users as much notice as possible about the upcoming changes. You'll also want to provide plenty of opportunities to ask questions and share concerns. Google offers free Drive training as part of their G Suite Training service. We recommend requiring the online training and following up with classroom or remote training sessions to address more specific use cases. Depending on the organizational structure of legacy file shares, you might consider moving business units a few at a time. We always recommend starting with an Early Adopter group to identify potential issues and test assumptions.
There are a range of 3rd party services that can be leveraged to migrate traditional file shares to Google Drive. We work most often with CloudMigrator and provide clients with direct access to their own cloud-based instance. Google recently acquired AppBridge, a service we've also worked with in the past. How it's be incorporated into G Suite remains to be seen. There are dozens of options. We're here to help, contact firstname.lastname@example.org
There's nothing complicated about metadata, it's just data about data. So you have a file, the access permissions would be metadata. The last modified and creation date are metadata. The options you have for the migration of metadata vary widely depending on your choice of migration service. It's important to note and consider what metadata you can and can't reliable migrate. All files might inherit a new 'created' date for example. Is this information utilized in certain processes? Permissions, aka sharing, is usually the most important information to capture. Some migration services do a good job of migrating permissions while others don't migrate permissions at all. It's important to consider how metadata changes will impact users and do test your assumptions.
Find a Partner
We'd love to help you with your cloud file server project and are always available via email@example.com But there are many excellent G Suite Partners at your disposal. In many instances we can provide a great deal of advice without impacting your project costs at all. There's no value in going it alone.