Searching for Google's GDrive

Google ramps up its SaaS story, but details remain shrouded in secrecy

December 1, 2007

3 Min Read
Network Computing logo

Could online services that manage consumers' photos, videos, and MP3 files replace enterprise gear as the storage industry's cash cow? Google's rumored plans for a consumer-based storage offering have thrown the spotlight on the opportunities presented by Software as a Service (SaaS).

The search giant is planning to let users store their data on Google's servers and storage devices, according to an article in the Wall Street Journal. Although specific details have not yet been released, it is believed that the initial Web-based service will offer some free storage, with additional capacity available for a fee.

"We have heard that it's going to branded the 'GDrive'," says Charles Curran, general partner of venture firm Valhalla Partners, which backs LeftHand Networks and managed storage startup Nirvanix. "It has been rumored for a few years now, but it's speculated that it will happen in Q1 of 08."

The exec expects that GDrive will compete with online storage services already available from, Omnidrive, and AOL's Xdrive service.

Xdrive offers users 5 Gbytes of online storage for free, although customers pay $9.95 per month for an additional 50 Gbytes.Google has already made some moves into the SaaS space, so an online storage service appears a natural progression. Earlier this year, for example, the search giant unveiled Google Apps, a set of managed services encompassing email, instant messaging, and word processing.

"Storage is an important component of making web apps fit easily into consumers' and business users' lives," wrote a Google spokesman in an email to Byte and Switch this afternoon. "The apps people use every day, such as email, photo sharing, and word processing, are moving to the web."

The spokesman for the notoriously secretive firm nonetheless refused to provide any more details about Google's plans for an online storage service, such as how the firm will keep this data secure.

Security is the key component of consumer-based SaaS, warns Valhalla Partners's Curran. "For consumers, SaaS is for data protection -- you have got all these photos of your grandkids and you want to keep them," he says.

Although Google appears to be targeting the consumer end of the market, a number of vendors including Nirvanix, and Amazon, with its S3 service, already offer online storage for businesses.Valhalla Partners's Curran, who is also on the board of directors at Nirvanix, told Byte and Switch that he will be paying close attention to Google's next few moves in this space. "They don't seem like a natural fit to go into business-to-business, but it's Google, so it's worth you and me watching."

Other vendors cranking up their consumer and SMB-based SaaS offerings at the moment include EMC, which recently spent $76 million to acquire online backup specialist Mozy. EMC rival Symantec is also working on its own SaaS solution, Symantec Protection Network Online Backup Service, which will be available later this year.

Earlier this week SaaS specialist Arsenal Digital added data protection features to its ViaBack managed service.

Commvault will be next to get in on this act, and is expected to announce a program next week enabling SaaS providers to deliver data protection services to the SMB market.

Have a comment on this story? Please click "Discuss" below. If you'd like to contact Byte and Switch's editors directly, send us a message.

  • Arsenal Digital Solutions Worldwide Inc.

  • CommVault Systems Inc.

  • EMC Corp. (NYSE: EMC)

  • Google (Nasdaq: GOOG)

  • LeftHand Networks Inc.

  • Nirvanix Inc.

  • Symantec Corp. (Nasdaq: SYMC)

  • Valhalla Partners

Stay informed! Sign up to get expert advice and insight delivered direct to your inbox

You May Also Like

More Insights