I am a big OneDrive for Business advocate. There are many differing opinions across the web stating why organizations should or shouldn’t move to it. I’m firmly in the ‘you should’ move to it camp, but with some caveats.

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What is OneDrive for Business (ODFB)?

Not understanding what this product is, happens to be the primary reason I halt migrations before we even get started. I understand that there’s some confusion. On the surface it sounds like OFDB is the new Microsoft Groove. There’s OneDrive and ODFB, with the former being for personal use. In addition, Microsoft even references Groove as the previous ODFB client.

ODFB is powered by SharePoint, and is integral in many aspects of Office 365. At a high level, ODFB is a synchronization tool. It’ll synchronize MySite (Personal Site) document libraries. It’ll also synchronize any document library you have access to in SharePoint. It’s an amazing product that promotes collaboration, and provides the user with access to their files anywhere with any supported device that can install the application or access the internet.

This is great, should we move everything to ODFB?

There are many things to consider before deciding to move your organization to ODFB. Before we even discuss licensing, and what you want to move into Office 365, we need to discuss security.

We’ve grown into the normal practice of having file servers, and user home directories on a server in our datacenters. These have always been protected servers sitting comfortably behind firewalls, and other routing devices. Relocating these items to ODFB immediately puts this data on the internet. This isn’t anything to be scared about, but it does require your security team reviewing your Office 365 tenant, and making sure things are locked down appropriately. Implementing Conditional Access will allow the IT organization to implement policies to limit how this data is being accessed. Azure Multi-Factor Authentication is another recommended step to secure company data, and protect our users. I normally recommend that an organization don’t make the move to relocate company file shares and user directories to ODFB without implementing Enterprise Mobility and Security (EMS). Protecting the company information, being able to manage the devices and applications being used to interact with ODFB, and gaining visibility into possible attacks on company files is critical. This should all be thought about prior to a migration to ODFB.

Why should we move to ODFB?

  • Files On Demand is a game changing feature, and removes the issue of disk space on a client machine. Safely synchronize massive amounts of data to workstations with little disk space. With the files being represented by a thumbnail of the file, users can browse large document libraries through a familiar Windows File Explorer or Finder (Mac) interface.
  • Visibility into file access is a major benefit. Microsoft has exceptional auditing tools built into Office 365’s Security and Compliance Center. This reporting provides information that many organizations don’t easily have access to on-premises.
  • Security is a big reason to take the step to ODFB for file shares and user directories. Implementing the EMS suite of products is highly recommended.
  • The User Experience is excellent with ODFB. The users are able to access their data anywhere, and securely. ODFB enables self-service. If the user needs to share a document with a colleague, they no longer need IT intervention. They’re able to share this on their own. This allows SharePoint and ODFB to be the business and collaborative tool it’s supposed to be. IT takes a step back, and manages the security and functionality of the environment.

How much can I store?

Once a security policy is signed off, and implemented, it’s time to consider the other items with ODFB. One of those is storage capacity. Microsoft has a great white paper that discusses this. Depending on the licensing in use by the organization, either 1 TB or unlimited ODFB storage will be your option. This is in reference to the user personal sites. Although all OneDrive sites will begin with 1 TB of storage, the default can be changed for those organizations licensed for unlimited.

For business, file shares, the recommendation is to architect a solution that would work for your organization in SharePoint, and migrate them there. This is not a task to be taken lightly. Storage for SharePoint sites is handled a bit differently than ODFB. For the most part, the organization will receive 1 TB of storage plus 10GB extra storage per licensed purchased.

What else should I be concerned about?

There are many ‘gotchas’ that need to be considered.

  • How many files per site?
    Note: Even though you can store 30 million items in a document library, there is a 5000 item view limit in SharePoint document libraries.
  • How large are the files?
    Note: 10GB per file is the max. Recall that Files On Demand will download the file locally for the users to access. Organizations that utilize very large files on a regular basis, and desire cloud access, may need to look at another solution such as caching their files into Azure Files.
  • How nested are your file folders?
    Note: Those nested folders will affect the length of URLs. There is a limit how long those URLs can be. Nested folders are nothing more than metadata. Considering a change of the layout, and utilizing Managed Metadata when moving to ODFB is highly recommended.
  • What operating system are your clients on?
    Note: Windows 10 1709 and Mac OS Mojave 10.14 are the minimum versions required for Files on Demand. A migration of file shares to SharePoint, and utilizing the ODFB client for workstations that don’t support Files on Demand isn’t recommended.
  • What’s your retention policy?
    Note: if a user is marked for deletion in Office 365, the ODFB data will be deleted in 30 days. This can be adjusted, and kept for up to 10 years.

For more information contact us or read this blog.

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