Google Drive upgrades make it more appealing for business

Originally just a glorified version of Google Docs, Google Drive now has more potential influence more businesses to "go Google."

SAN FRANCISCO -- While many of the developers and engineers in the audience at Google I/O were excited about the introduction of the Compute Engine cloud infrastructure service on Thursday, but upgrades for Google Drive might be more tangible and enticing to more enterprise customers.

Sundar Pinchai, senior vice president for Chrome and Apps, remarked right off the bat that Drive is playing into Google's Apps business customer strategy.

See also: Google intros Compute Engine infrastructure service

First, he pointed towards "consumerization of business" overall as employees demand the same computing experience both at home and work.

Pinchai posited that this trend has become "so powerful" that many businesses are just "going Google." To back that up, Pinchai cited 45 states, 66 of top 100 universities, and 5 million businesses that have signed up for corporate Google Apps accounts. Some examples include Genentech, Virgin America, and Spanish bank BBVA, which became Google's largest customer a few months ago.

But the upgrades announced during the keynote for Google Drive are going to make Apps overall a much more attractive option to the enterprise set, making it more competitive to the likes of Box and Dropbox.

First, Google Drive access is being expanded beyond the desktop to Chrome OS and iOS mobile devices. This is really a necessity as cloud storage accounts now need to be available anywhere, anytime there is Internet access.

Other features that aren't exactly revolutionary but are mandatory nonetheless include offline editing, better collaboration modes, and letting users manage and give permission to other user for access to particular files and folders.

But even better is the growing pool of third-party apps, such as Lucidchart and Sliderocket. With HelloFax, users can fax files directly to their Google accounts tied to Google Drive. The simplicity and seamlessness is the goal and one of the biggest benefits of cloud computing overall.