5 Best Cloud Storage platforms for sales teams

Logos of Gogole Drive, Sharepoint, Box, Saleforce and OneDrive. Clouds in the background.

We’ve gained invaluable knowledge from working on these platforms for years and years on a daily basis.

The Crescendo platform is built to leverage popular Cloud Storage platforms: Google Drive, Box.com, OneDrive, Salesforce, or Sharepoint. We have the perspective of regular users of these platforms, of admins managing a team with the platforms, of developers with understanding the underpinnings of the platform, and also of the perspective of our clients who’ve offered their opinions about their platform of choice.

This document is a summary of our thoughts around each of these five platforms. It’ll be useful to you if you’d like some insight into cloud storage platforms to choose from, whether you’re a regular user or a developer.

 

Google Drive

Google Drive was formally launched in 2012 and quickly gained popularity as a simple yet effective cloud storage space. According to Google, over a million organizations subscribe to G Suite, the paid version of Google services, and more than 800 million individuals use the free version of the service.

Google Drive is the cloud storage part of Google Suite. If you use Gmail, you also have Google Drive access, whether or not you use it.

We have firsthand knowledge that several Crescendo clients use Google Drive in their business mainly because they were already familiar with the product through use with their personal gmail account. That was their first foray into cloud storage, and it’s simple to use. The jump to G Suite was a no-brainer.

Organizations that’ve invested in G Suite for its email capabilities gravitate to Google Drive automatically as it doesn’t require extra setup or additional costs.

User interface of Google Drive cloud storage service

Pros:

  • Very simple and intuitive interface.
  • It’s part of G Suite which offers a lot more than storage space.
  • As a part of G Suite, you have several other useful Google applications available to you as well
  • The free version offers plenty of space so it’s very useful

Cons:

  • On the developer side, connection issues and download errors are surprisingly frequent.
  • No dedicated support. You have to rely on their knowledge base, even with a G Suite subscription.
  • Google’s revenue comes from selling Ads. Particularly if you use their free version, be wary that your info is processed for ad profiling

 

Box.com

Box was a pioneer in the market of Cloud Storage for the enterprise. Founded by Aaron Levie in 2005, it quickly gained popularity as a simple, highly secure, innovative approach to storing files. Some called it Dropbox for the Enterprise and it quickly became a leader in its space. 

Box acquired and integrated many solutions to become the multi-facetted platform that it is today; and not merely a cloud storage space. Box evolved. In fact, Box was the first cloud storage platform that Crescendo worked with, and we’re still a Box Technology Partner.

What’s special about Box is their tagging mechanism. Users love it and no other platform offers anything like that.

One downside for Box that we’ve come across is that their user subscription costs aren’t simple and therefore, they tend to be unpredictable.

As developers, we notice significant delays on the API end from time to time. This has been an ongoing issue for quite a while now. 

Also the permission model with Box is limiting. For example an access to a subfolder cannot be taken away until you also take away access to its parent folder. This is a restriction isn’t apparent with other cloud storage providers.

On the whole, Box is still a very good platform. And Crescendo enhances the experience for users.

User interface of Box cloud storage service.

Pros:

  • Easily share folders and files via unique web link
  • Free trial access allows you to test the platform before purchasing
  • Ability to TAG files to allow easier file management

Cons:

  • UI interface is not very intuitive 
  • If you share a file with an external user, your organization will be charged for a new license without any notice.
  • Child folder cannot have less permissions than its parent.

 

Sharepoint

Sharepoint was first launched in 2001 and was a leader in on-premise solutions. It was present in countless numbers of organizations. While the technology evolved to cloud storage, so did Sharepoint with its re-introduction as a solution in Microsoft’s Office 365 suite.  

Sharepoint is a lot more than just a cloud storage space. It offers a very flexible and rich environment to create intranets, wikis, knowledge bases and a lot more. Each Sharepoint Site has its own document section which can be used as document repository.

If you work for a medium to large company, chances are that you’re already familiar with Sharepoint in one way or the other. Such is the dominance of this Microsoft solution. A reported 200 million+ number of organizations uses Sharepoint.

 Although evolving, it still has a few legacy traits that aren’t user-friendly. The User interface can be very slow and clunky and the configuration options are countless. 

A common conversation we have with our Sharepoint clients goes like this, “..our documents need to remain in Sharepoint, but our users hate to access them. Can Crescendo help?”. 

Yes, Crescendo can help! Fortunately, Sharepoint has very reliable, fast and well documented API. So if you already use Sharepoint as your document repository, just plug-in Crescendo. Users and management alike will have a greatly improved experience with Crescendo and Sharepoint!

User interface of Sharepoint document storage platform

Pros:

  • Offers a lot more than content storage space. You can build complex intranet sites or webpages.
  • Highly customizable with many options for permissions, sharing, sites.
  • It comes with several useful enterprise app as part of the Office 365 suite

Cons:

  • Too complex if you need a simple solution to store files online.
  • Slow and clunky interface that breeds many detractors and hurts with adoption.
  • Lacks a metadata mechanism like tags, custom description fields, etc

 

OneDrive

The One Drive corporate version is part of Office 365. Although similar to Sharepoint, OneDrive’s distinct difference and value proposition is that it’s solely focused on cloud data storage, and not the extra frills that you receive with Sharepoint on the cloud. It is therefore simpler and more intuitive.

OneDrive is definitely gaining in popularity.  We believe that its simplicity is a major factor to the observed increase in client requests we receive for OneDrive. If you want to stick to your Office 365 environment and all you need is a file storage, OneDrive was made for you! 

On the technical side, OneDrive’s API is reliable, fast, and well documented; similar to Sharepoint. We have very little challenges when we build special feature on this platform.

OneDrive cloud storage service user interface.

Pros:

  • Free version is available for up to 5GB of data. 
  • Sharing content via smart web links. 
  • Virtually unlimited space available (6TB +) in paid versions.

Cons:

  • Like Sharepoint, it lacks metadata mechanisms like tags, custom description fields, etc

 

Salesforce

Salesforce CRM is one of the most popular CRM platforms in the world. It’s a leader of the SaaS model of software sales. Alongside the powerful CRM tool, lies the document repository side of Salesforce – Salesforce Content. Salesforce Content allows you to upload and store your files and folders into the Salesforce Cloud.

Salesforce Classic, the original Salesforce content platform, has a distinct disadvantage; there’s no hierarchy in libraries. This means you cannot create folders or have folders inside other folders. Crescendo helps to alleviate this problem. Within Crescendo, you can create ‘virtual folders’ and display some folder hierarchy and folder structure with your Salesforce Libraries.

Another disadvantage is that Salesforce forces you to upload content one file at a time. You’re unable to upload a folder, or even a group of files, in one go. This makes content management quite cumbersome.

In addressing faults in Salesforce Classic, Salesforcre released a new content platform called Salesforce Lightning. It’s a vast improvement over Salesforce Classic. Folder hierarchy is available and you can upload more than one file at a time! Salesforce Lightning comes with a snazzy new user interface and several other interesting features as well. The only headache would be to transition from Classic to Lightning, if you’re a long time Salesforce Content user.

Salesforce Lightning is truly caught up with other major cloud storage providers in terms of features and user interface.

As developers, we enjoy working with Salesforce because it offers very reliable and fast APIs and really good support.

SFDC document library cloud storage platform

Pros:

  • Easy to integrate with Salesforce CRM workflow
  • Very well maintained SDK and API
  • Premium support is available

Cons:

  • Salesforce Classic has a flat folder/library hierarchy
  • Cumbersome to upload new content in Salesforce
  • Salesforce CRM is a pricey solution on its own. And Salesforce Content incurs a further cost to enable per user.
  • Migrating to Salesforce Lightning takes time and good management

 

Conclusion

There are several cloud storage options available for the enterprise and for individuals users consumers. We consider these five solutions as the very best on offer and this is why we at Crescendo chose and continue to support these platforms. 

Every so often, a potential client would ask for our opinion on which cloud storage platform to choose to work with Crescendo. It’s a difficult question to answer without understanding client use case, budget, growth plan, and many other factors that would help give a truly informed answer. We hope that this article sheds a light on how these platforms differ from each other without nominating the better, or worse, platform.

The choice always is your own.

 

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