How cloud storage can help your business

4th Feb 2014 | 10:23

How cloud storage can help your business

Convenience and peace of mind

Launched in 2008, Livedrive is a cloud storage company that stores files, photos, music videos and other digital content online. It offers several tailored packages for home and business users around the world and provides online backup services to major UK retailers including PC World, Currys and Dixons.

We spoke to the company's Marketing Manager Rob Custons to find out more on the technical differences between its products and how cloud can help your business.

TechRadar Pro: What is Cloud storage?

Rob Custons: The word "Cloud" has confused some people because it doesn't really describe what the service does. The term "Cloud storage" generally refers to a product which enables people and/or businesses to store data remotely in secure servers.

This basically means that users can store their files in a secure place on the internet and then download or view the files through an internet connected device.

Most Cloud storage companies offer desktop software to upload and download files from the Cloud. Some companies, such as Livedrive, enable users to access their data through mobile apps and web browsers.

TRP: What is the difference between backup and cloud sync products?

RC: Back up and sync products are quite similar, they both enable users to upload and download files from the Cloud, however there are a few key differences.

A Backup folder is like a mirror of a customers' hard drive, the software creates a copy of the files on a user's computer or mobile device and places them in the Cloud. This will make sure customers never lose their files, even if their computer is stolen or breaks.

As you would expect, if you create, edit, or delete a file on your computer, the same will happen to the file in the cloud. Livedrive and a few other back up providers offer automatic back up which makes the process simple. The key advantage of Back up products over Sync software is that they enables users to automatically upload and download lots of files at the same time.

Sync services are generally special folders which enable users to directly place files in the Cloud. A sync Cloud folder can be installed on a range of computers and mobile devices and will always contain the same information.

This means that you can start a document in your home and then open your sync folder at work and continue editing the same document. The key advantage to sync products over back up software is that the user can edit the files while they are in the cloud.

TRP: What are your thoughts on the current trend of creating cloud storage products for businesses?

RC: Most businesses hold a lot of important data which is key for their business to run properly. Some online studies suggest that businesses without a well-structured recovery plan are forced to shut within 12 months following a flood or fire. We certainly believe data is very important for businesses and having an off-site backup of your important files makes sense.

The reason that there is a considerable amount of talk about Cloud software for businesses at the moment is because there are many companies who would benefit from the Cloud but simply don't know about it or don't understand it.

Livedrive has had a Business product for a few years now and we have tried to offer something different from the typical cloud products by enabling users to have backup and sync folders in the same product. We also see collaboration as a key area for Business users and have enabled colleagues to work on each other's files in the cloud through our "team folders".

TRP: Is there a reason Livedrive doesn't offer free accounts?

RC: Freemium products sound great because customers can store a few of their files for free however they actually work as a negative for paying customers.

The fundamentals of a freemium model are such that the paying users need to pay for all of the free users. For example, with Livedrive Briefcase you get 2,000GB of space for £10 per month, Dropbox offers just 200GB for £12 per month. Paid-for services like Livedrive can offer far better deals to paying users because we don't have the cost of servicing millions of free users.

One reason users sign up for free products is because they don't want to pay for something they haven't used. We are aware of this and offer a 14 day trial to give customers hands-on time with the software and still offer them a low monthly or yearly fee.

TRP: Is the cloud predominantly aimed at mobile users or desktop users?

RC: Cloud storage software does offer some great benefits to mobile users. Most mobile devices have a small amount of internal storage therefore Cloud storage will enable users to access all of their files through their mobile phone or tablet.

It also enables users to edit files-on-the go, which can be great for work or personal usage. However we feel that the Cloud offers great advantages to people who have desktop computers as well. Most people keep all of their data on their desktop hard drives and therefore online backup is a key feature. Desktop computers are also great ways to edit documents or images and therefore having a sync folder on all of your computers can be a key benefit to those customers.

TRP: How does a reseller product work within the cloud storage arena?

RC: Cloud storage is an online product and therefore selling the Cloud doesn't involve a large start-up cost or any warehouse space.

Most systems have an online dashboard which makes it easy for sellers to create customer accounts and configure the product to suit them. Some Cloud providers enable Resellers to customise the software to include their brand and make it appear as their own. In Livedrive's case we give Resellers total control of their product, enabling them to white label the software, and offer customers their own apps.

Most companies offering Reseller products also give sellers a significant discount on accounts, which enables them to compete on price with the other Cloud providers. There are a lot of people who have a use for Cloud storage but do not already have a provider and Reseller products simply enable people without a lot of technical knowledge or a high start-up capital to set up a business.

TRP: What is the main differentiator between cloud products? Is it feature or price driven?

RC: Price is definitely a consideration for most customers buying a Cloud product. One of Livedrive's main USPs is that we offer a lot of storage at a low price. However there are other things to consider when purchasing a Cloud service.

Many people want to access their files on-the-go and from multiple devices and so mobile apps and support for both Windows and Mac OSX are usually important. If a customer wants to edit their files on-the-go or automatically backup their hard drive's data it will also help them decide whether they should purchase a backup or sync product.

TRP: What do you think the future holds for Cloud storage?

RC: We can only guess what the future will hold but we are confident that the Cloud will be integrated into more pieces of software and a larger range of devices in the next few years.

You may be able to view your favourite recipes through a Cloud connected fridge or listen to music stored on the cloud directly through a wearable device such as a watch. If there is a situation where people need to access their stored data, somebody will come up with a product that can provide the file.

We believe there will be a greater demand for software running directly on the Cloud. We currently offer photo editing and document editing through our online portal. We imagine that more companies will be offering a catalogue of online software and possibly even create operating systems in the Cloud if Chrome OS becomes popular.

The advantage to Cloud software and Cloud operating systems is that customers can buy cheaper, thinner devices without a draw back in functionality. Which is a great selling point for people on a budget or who travel a lot.

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