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Google "Drive" Could Step on Cloud Partners' Toes

Will "Drive" ruffle the feathers of Google's existing cloud storage partnerships?

Google is preparing to launch a long-rumored cloud storage service that tramples a bit on products and services offered by Google partners. A Wall Street Journal report citing “people familiar with the matter” says the new “Drive” service will be launched by Google in the coming weeks or months. What does that mean for other companies that Google works closely with?

As my PCWorld peer Ian Paul pointed out in an article about the upcoming Google storage service, Google already offers online storage in a variety of ways. Ostensibly, the Google “Drive” will consolidate and possibly expand the capabilities, but Google isn’t entirely new to the cloud storage space.

However, offering a more coherent cloud storage solution would pit Google “Drive” more directly against other cloud storage services and possibly turn partners into rivals. Google already has existing relationships with cloud storage providers like Box. Just last summer, Box and Google launched a partnership that integrates Google Docs capabilities into Box for a combo aimed at going head to head with the SharePoint features of Microsoft’s Office 365.

It seems a little bit like McDonald’s deciding to get into the soft drink business with its own line of cola despite its symbiotic relationship with Coca Cola. I asked Box CEO Aaron Levie for his thoughts on whether the Google “Drive” tramples on the Box side of the fence, and what impact the competition might have on their partnership in other areas.

Levie explained that he welcomes the Google “Drive” just like he welcomed Apple’s iCloud. Services like these -- with the brand awareness of household names like Apple and Google -- drive mainstream, awareness and acceptance of cloud storage in general. Ultimately, that is a good thing for every party involved in cloud storage, including Box.

Rather than being threatened by Google, Levie is elated. “This is great for Box, since we're all about bringing those benefits to the enterprise, going beyond storage to help organizations manage and collaborate on content across devices.”

Levie went on to say that the Google “Drive” wouldn’t really impact its relationship with Google. “We'll continue to partner with Google and expand our integration with its Google Apps suite, since our focus on secure information management and collaboration is complementary to its offerings."

If and when the Google “Drive” is launched, it will be another step toward mainstream adoption of storing and accessing data online. But, “Drive” seems like a more consumer-oriented, and Google-centric service akin to a Google version of Apple’s iCloud, and is not seen as a direct challenge by its cloud partners.


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