What You Need to Know About OneDrive & The Cloud

Gartner’s Magic Quadrant recognized OneDrive for Business

What You Need to Know About OneDrive & The Cloud

By Alistair Pugin | October 24, 2017

To kickstart the conversation, we’ll begin with an overview of what OneDrive really is.

Microsoft OneDrive is a file-driven, cloud-hosted service that’s available to both individual users and corporate organizations as part of Microsoft’s suite of online services. With OneDrive, users can sync their files to a PC and access them from a web browser or mobile device. It also allows users to share their content publicly or with specific people.

Now that we’ve laid out the unofficial definition of Microsoft OneDrive, let’s take a close look into the collaboration ecosphere and dive into what you need to know about OneDrive and the cloud.

Is OneDrive the Future of Cloud Collaboration?

Long story short, Enterprise Content Management (ECM) is dead.

In today’s context, Content Services has been squarely influenced by disruptors like Dropbox, Box, and Google Drive. Sure, Gartner’s Magic Quadrant recognized OneDrive for Business as a leader with the highest “ability to execute,” but it also stands distinguished as the only collaboration platform able to integrate with Office 365.

How does this tie into cloud collaboration? Historically, IT departments had to emphasize directory services, email, and associated content when enrolling employees to the corporate network. This forced users to store content on file shares and home folders across centralized storage networks within the organization.

Enter: Cloud Storage. Exit: Disk Failure.

For years, admins and users dealt with the constant fear that their files would be destroyed or corrupted by failed disk drives. However, disk failure ultimately provided the construct for online personal and business storage, introducing unfettered, redundant, and secure cloud storage to end users and organizations—all at a fraction of the cost of conventional storage area networks.

Moving into present day, as IT departments embrace cloud services in the form of hosted mail, admins have started to explore how other on-premise services can be moved to the cloud as well.

In particular, a few benefits of moving to the cloud include:

  • Reduction in cost of data center hardware
  • Larger storage capacity
  • 24/7/365 availability
  • Mobile device access
  • Document sharing (internally and externally)
  • Browser and desktop access
  • Online Application integration (e.g. Word, PowerPoint, and Excel)
  • Security (Disk and file level encryption)  

When Microsoft decided to create a synergy between cloud storage and user desktops, it made complete sense to integrate the platform’s functionality into Windows Explorer. In this way, users could work in a familiar environment while still accessing all of the features listed above.

To tie this back to OneDrive and its impact on cloud collaboration, let’s look at how OneDrive capabilities replace on-premise file shares, user directories, and deprecated workflows, while concurrently enabling smart collaboration with Office 365.

Does OneDrive Reinforce Cloud Migration?

With OneDrive being an integral component of Office 365, the natural progression would be to migrate the users’ My Documents folders to OneDrive. However, this only addresses one part of the larger file server discussion.

IT departments embracing the cloud need to first consider which content needs to be moved into Office 365 or remain on-premises. A common misperception is that when moving to the cloud, all localized infrastructure can be decommissioned in lieu of cloud storage. Instead, implementing a hybrid environment shouldn’t be seen as a journey, but rather, as an end state.

OneDrive enables IT departments to provide their users with the same user experience that they are accustomed to while ensuring that the content is always available across multiple devices. Additionally, OneDrive ensures that organizations can manage and secure content, without risk of data exposure or corruption.

How Do I Begin Using OneDrive?

The answer is reasonably simple, since OneDrive is automatically provisioned once an organization creates an Office 365 Tenant.

Office 365 dashboard

However, as organizations begin the move to the cloud, they should first identify where content is stored and how users are interacting with it. This can be more confusing than it sounds, especially since OneDrive is actually four tools in one. What?!

Breaking Down What Actually Constitutes OneDrive

1. OneDrive Personal

This is the personal storage repository that many users consider the essence of OneDrive. It is constrained for personal use only and provides users with 5GB of online storage.

2. OneDrive for Business

The corporate version of OneDrive enables each user with the storage and functionality that is attached to the company tenant. Typically, the commercial version offers 1TB of online storage per user.

3. OneDrive Client (Windows 10)

This is the client (OneDrive.exe) that ships with Windows 10 with updated features. It can be downloaded for Windows.

OneDrive Client

4. Next Generation Sync Client

This is the old Groove.exe client, and caters to users with pre-Windows 10 software.

Next Generation Sync Client

These clients can be easily distinguished by the colour of their icons: white for the old, blue for the new.

Migrating Content to OneDrive

Now that we’ve cleared up any confusion with the OneDrive ecosystem, let’s move onto the various ways you can migrate content to OneDrive.

Self-Service Migration

Users can move their content across to OneDrive via the Browser or Sync Client.

With the browser, users can simply drag and drop their content from Windows Explorer to their OneDrive library. Alternatively, after the sync client is installed, users can navigate to their OneDrive or SharePoint library and initiate a sync to the local OneDrive folder, which will synchronize individual files or folders to their PC.

These files can be used offline and will sync back to their OneDrive library.

SharePoint On-Premises to Online Migration

Through the use of a comprehensive migration tool, like Essentials for Office 365, admins can move users’ My Site files to their corresponding OneDrive folders on SharePoint Online. This is by far the easiest way to move user content to OneDrive.

SharePoint Hybrid Functionality

With the release of Service Pack 1 for SharePoint 2013 and the latest SharePoint 2016, admins can now redirect on-premises links to users’ My Sites to the new Office 365 OneDrive experience, while still providing SharePoint on-premises features to the organization.


OneDrive provides users with the ability to share content both internally and externally, while ensuring that content is properly protected and managed.

Through using OneDrive, organizations are able to provide their users with the tools they need for effective collaboration. It also provides the facility with the ability to work with content offline, through OneDrive’s sync client.

By adopting cloud storage for users’ personal files and going hybrid, organizations can reap all the benefits of the cloud while keeping key elements of their organization on-premises, which far outweigh the effort required to move to the cloud.

Need Help Migrating to OneDrive?

If you’re tasked with migrating content to the cloud, let Metalogix help!

Essentials for Office 365 is an industry-leading solution that enables a powerful way to move to Office 365, without any hassle. See how Essentials for Office 365 can help you get started with OneDrive and configure your hybrid environment today!

Leave a Comment

Add new comment

Alistair Pugin

Alistair Pugin is an Office Servers MVP based in Johannesburg, South Africa. He has worked in various capacities in multiple verticals spanning between 50 to 50,000 users utilizing all aspects of pure Enterprise Information Management. His current position provides him with a mechanism to assist companies with designing their Microsoft productivity stack using “best of breed” proven methodologies to foster innovation and growth through an ECM framework, while incorporating a Knowledge Management strategy. With this vision, he strives to provide customers with a platform for Business Productivity Enrichment, establishing communities of practice through proper analysis and building a knowledge economy that is both quantifiable and achievable.

Written By: Alistair Pugin