When this addition to the Microsoft product set was announced, some folks were confused as to why two independent programs would be named in such similar fashion. But, as with many things, the simplest explanation is often the best. So on that basis, think of SkyDrive Pro as the business solution for cloud-based document storage in the same way SkyDrive is for individuals. Where SkyDrive allows a person to sync their personal documents to the cloud, SkyDrive Pro facilitates a similar experience for SharePoint users and their business documents.
Actually SkyDrive Pro does that and bit more. It’s main purpose is to give individuals within an organisation control over where, when and how they access content, by allowing them to store and organise documents on their organisation’s SharePoint servers (i.e. in their “corporate cloud”).
As the default location for saving files, SkyDrive Pro is essentially the new MySite documents library. But it goes a step further by giving users the power to sync a SharePoint library to their PC or device, and work with files in their library by using Windows Explorer. Any files updates then sync to SharePoint when the user is next online. This is great news for companies who struggle to keep certain groups of employees e.g. a mobile sales force, away from using shared drives, as now they can utilise SkyDrive Pro to seamlessly sync their documents to SharePoint.
Other key benefits include giving users the ability to:
- Sync team site document libraries locally
- Share, collaborate and co-author documents with both internal and external stakeholders
- Access their content anywhere, on any device
- Effectively manage the content lifecycle and version control, and,
- Manage access permissions.
In addition, Microsoft has indicated that users will have the ability to access SkyDrive Pro with native mobile client apps for Windows 8 and iOS by June 2013.
SkyDrive Pro comes with a standard 7GB storage for each user with SharePoint Online – a significant increase on the 500MB that was offered in 2010. At this stage, we are not aware of a way to increase user storage limits (above 7GB), however we expect Microsoft will consider offering a solution for this in the future. With on-premise SharePoint 2013, storage allocation is determined by the administrator.
If your organisation is considering coming across from SharePoint 2010 to 2013, it is possible to attain an update to allow SkyDrive Pro to operate alongside SharePoint Workspace – but it’s important to note that the latter no longer features in SharePoint 2013. (SkyDrive Pro can, however, perform all the same functions which 2010 users currently reply upon in Workspace).
As a final piece, it’s worth noting that while SkyDrive Pro does make offline doc syncing much easier and a better all-round experience, your users still need to be supported by sound access and administration protocols, to ensure your IP is protected. However, unlike previously, when a user could download a document and save it to their personal drive without any controls in place, risks to version control and duplication are significantly lessened by them now being able to sync documents directly back to SharePoint.
It’s no secret that Microsoft is on a mission to continually enhance their product offering to more readily connect their users with the cloud. This integration of SkyDrive Pro into the Office 2013 suite is another important step towards this goal.