Comprehensive Guide to Moving a File Server to Google Drive

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1 Comprehensive Guide to Moving a File Server to Google Drive Brought to you by Google Gooru *To get notified of new updates to this Guide: Add us to your Circles on Google+ **For in-depth training on everything Google Apps, please visit Gooru University. 1

2 Table of Contents 1. How Google intended Google Drive to be used 2. Why move your company s File Server to Google Drive? 3. Why NOT to move your company s File Server to Google Drive? 4. Moving from a File Server to Google Drive: IT Management approaches 5. Performing the Migration Overview There are many scenarios in which organizations can utilize the Google Drive Platform for file storage, whether in a hybrid solution or as the single storage source. In this guide we will be reviewing, specifically, the scenario in which an organization would like to decommission their current file server, move all company wide files into Google Drive and how this move will affect the organization s employee workflows, business processes and IT management & security. 2

3 How Google intended Google Drive to be used Google Drive is a file system of user owned files / folders that are mapped in a web like structure to other user accounts via Google s sharing permissions. Unlike a traditional File Server hierarchy in which all files and folders fall under the central Network Domain File Server, Google Drive files and folders are created similar to how a user would create a personal document on their local hard drive. User s then have the option to share files and folders with others through Google s sharing permissions. The extent a user is able to share files in Google Drive is managed by Administrators via the Google Apps Admin Console. If you d like more granular control over user s sharing permissions, explore third party applications like FlashPanel. Google Drive s user driven permission structure is not a 1 to 1 match to the File Server permissions structure and often a paradigm shift from the traditional security methods IT admins are used to. However, IT administrators that are able to help their organizations adapt to this structure are able to see a reduction in time managing files and documents and an increase in employee collaboration in which the Google Drive platform seeks to provide. 3

4 Why move your company s File Server to Google Drive? 1. Low cost in comparison to maintaining and managing an on premise file server 2. Ability to securely access company files without VPN or being within the network 3. Accessing documents from tablets mobile and devices 4. Flexible and inexpensive storage space 5. Ability to access company files from multiple devices (PC, MAC, ios, Android, RIM, Windows) 6. Multi tenant cloud backup with files distributed across multiple strategically geo located data centers for disaster recovery Why NOT to move your company s File Server to Google Drive? Reliance on frequent team updates to files on the network that require the SharePoint check in/out functionality or the network read only function in order to control versioning. Given these documents can not be transferred to the native Google Docs format for organizational or technical reasons (Google Docs real time collaboration). The need to restrict access to documents to only on premise network access *With any replatforming, organizational policies and workflows should be examined and potentially reestablished. Consideration of the policies and workflow s level of importance and necessity to the organization as compared to the benefits of the Google Drive platform, should also be examined.* 4

5 Moving from a File Server to Google Drive: IT Management approaches Organizations have been known to implement either one of two different management approaches when moving from a File Server to Google Drive. Their company shared files are either Admin Managed or Owner Managed. How your organization plans to manage the company shared files in Google Drive significantly impacts in how you execute your migration plan. Admin Managed Approach The admin managed approach to managing files in Google Drive is most closely aligned to how a File Server is traditionally managed. In this approach, IT admins will create a service account dedicated to storing their company shared documents. This service account is: A dedicated Google Apps account and given a username, (e.g. Allocated Google Drive storage in order to house all the documents that were previously housed on the company file server All, or a portion, of the files from the file server are migrated solely to this account and the folder structure is either replicated or redesigned per the migration planning. This admin managed central service account then grants users / groups certain owner/edit/view permissions to the sub folders based on company policy. Folders that are shared from the central service account will appear into the user s Shared with me section of their Google Drive web interface, unless moved manually into their My Drive. Users will inherit the same rights to files and subfolders that are created by the service account under the hierarchy of the top level folder that was shared with them, however if end users are able to upload files and create sub folders within this hierarchy the top level permissions are not forcely inherited for those assets created by other users and they will retain the owner permissions to grant access and delete these assets. Advantages in this approach As an IT admin and organization moving from a traditional File Server, this is the most familiar structure of permissioning company files/folders 5

6 IT Admins can retain a central approved top level structure to the corporate folder structure for shared intra company files. (However granting edit rights can undermine control of the file structure) IT admins can allocate one account with a large amount of storage to store all the company shared documents, rather than having to track and manage allocating storage across several different accounts (If IT policy allows users do have the ability to manage their own storage). Disadvantages in this approach Google Drive was not designed to be used in a central managed folder hierarchical structure and when taking this approach, organizations will find shortfalls in the interface design, permissioning structure, and platform functionality. Shared folders are only found under the Shared with me and All Items sections of the Google Drive interface. These sections do not allow for a hierarchical / nested directory structure on the left pane like the My Drive folder allows. Users will need to Add to My Drive if they want to an experience similar to the file server's central folder structure. If users require updating and syncing files on this central account, they must do so by adding the files to My Drive in order to sync via the Google Drive desktop app. Files and Folders selected to sync with the Desktop App are stored and synced against the user s computer hard drive which in most scenarios would include too large of an amount data to be stored on a local hard drive and too large of an amount of bandwidth required to be used for syncing. Considerations in this approach Adding to my Drive with the Desktop Sync App Users will be inclined to add a majority of their files/folders to their My Drive for the reasons stated above. Files/Folders that are shared with them do not count against their storage quota, however files added for purposes of organization will be subject to the Desktop sync and can add up quickly to a large amount of data ultimately leading to computer and company bandwidth performance issues. Perceived control only If users are allowed to add files/folders within the hierarchy, this approach does not add any additional control compared to the Owner Managed approach. As those that upload files and add new subfolders, they will be considered the owner of those assets regardless of their place in the hierarchy because the rights are not forcely inherited from the top level and do not 6

7 supersede the rights an owner. Owners have the right to share/delete their file or folder they created regardless of where it is stored. Giving View-only Privileges If admins want to retain complete control over the folder structure then they are unable to grant Edit permissions, as this permission allows the creation and reorganizations of sub folders. This would mean that the service account would be responsible for uploading all documents and granting permissions to all team members. The admin managed approach for migrating to Google Drive is most similar to how a file server is traditional managed, but it is not how Google Drive was intended to be used. Though it may be helpful for admins to use this approach when migrating from a file server, it does not fully utilize the collaboration capabilities that Google Drive offers. Owner Managed Approach The owner managed strategy for managing files on Google Drive is the way Drive was designed to be used. It assigns the ownership of folders directly to user accounts, rather than through a central administrative service account. There is not a central hierarchy that contains all company shared files, but rather user created folders and nested subfolders that are managed by the owners of those folders. File and folder organization is driven by the end user in which they choose to organize folders shared with them into their My Drive and access others solely from the Shared with Me section. Advantages in this approach Features and functionality lend to an intuitive and collaborative user experience. Decentralized structure promotes end user organization of shared folders and documents in a way that is intuitive for them specifically IT Admins are not bogged down with managing permissions and folder structures Third party applications, like FlashPanel, allow IT admins to control and secure the ownership structure of documents on Google Drive. Disadvantages in this approach Admins will need to closely track Google Drive storage across user accounts, rather than storing the majority of files on one central account. Decentralized file storage can lead to duplicate content and difficulty in finding the necessary resources from the appropriate content owner 7

8 Considerations in this approach Google Drive administrators are best suited to monitor activity on domain files with tools like FlashPanel, rather than taking a gatekeeper approach. These tools allow a more efficient approach for IT without putting your organization at risk. With the owner managed approach, files are serviced by the owners of the files which is the way Google Drive was designed to be used. This approach will allow organizations to fully utilize the powerful collaboration features of Drive, and is the preferred method for managing files on Drive. 8

9 Performing the Migration Deciding on a Google Drive Migration approach The first step in performing your migration to Drive is to determine which approach you plan to use to manage your File Server once in Google Drive, Admin Managed or Owner Managed. In order to help decide which approach best suits your company you will want to perform an audit of the following: Amount of files/ total size on server Files on server vs files to be migrated (the less the better) How the files are currently being accessed (Network only? VPN?) What types and how many (if any) files are being updated by multiple people The frequency in which files are being updated/synced The most common use case for the file server across departments Utilize the findings of your audit to modify the current IT policies and procedures to align with the new Google platform and your chosen file management approach prior to beginning any migration. After choosing a Drive migration approach and adapting IT policies to support the new platform, you are able to begin planning the migration process. Choosing a Google Drive migration tool or partner: Once you have performed an audit of the data on your File server, analyzed how it is being used by your employees and defined the adjusted IT policies in which you will be governing the files on the Google Drive Platform, you are ready to start planning the transfer of files. There are several ways to migrate data into Google Drive and below are a few of the more common tools in the marketplace to help you in this process. You will want to evaluate your requirements and the tools functionality to determine which one best suits your migration. Gladinet Allows for file server integration (post migration) as well SADA (video) Migrates Active Directory permissions Nava Certus Suited for both centralized and distributed migrations Google Chrome The most common way used for small personal batches, however unreliable in large amounts data. Share settings will need to be manually set after migration. Test the migration tool; Analyze the results 9

10 Initial testing of the speed and efficiency of the migration tool will help to determine the roll out strategy as this will give you a good estimate on amount of data migrated vs time taken and how that relates to the folders and organizational segments you will want to migrate. You will want to test in an environment that is similar to the one you will be performing the actual migration to determine any bandwidth, security and logistical constraints. Once you ve determined the appropriate tool necessary to aid with the migration to Drive and have tested it for any constraints, you will be able to decide which rollout strategy best suits your organization. Determine a Rollout Strategy for your Organization Centralized vs Distributed The file management approach choice of your organization will determine your migration approach. If you have decided to manage and distribute all files from a central admin managed service account, you will choose a centralized migration approach. If distributing the shared folders to the owner s individual user accounts, you will choose a distributed migration approach. Centralized Migration is performing the migration of all files from the server and folder structure into an account and setting shared permissions to distribute documents to the end users. You will need to allocate enough Google Drive storage to this single account to house the amount of data that will be migrated and added in the future. Distributed Migration is migrating individual folders and files directly to the user accounts of the owners of this content. This will allow you to distribute the files across the individual 10

11 accounts, potentially avoiding purchasing additional storage above the default allotted user amount, depending on data size. Single Migration vs Phased Rollout At any given time, during the initial audit, there could be an employee uploading, downloading, syncing or referencing a file on the file server. If this is the case, communication in which platform is the record of truth for files to be accessed, updated and synced is critical in the migration process. You will want to segment the migration into phases to minimize the amount of time in which the location of the files and record of truth are in transition. For some organizations with a small data size or less frequently updated file server scenarios, a one phase approach is feasible. However, more than likely you will want to rollout the migration in phases to reduce friction in business processes and clearly communicate this rollout in your communication plan. Companies will often choose rollout phases primarily based on their file server folder structure and data size to easily track and manage the migration of the files. However you will want to consider the following in determining migration phases to ease coordination and management of the user communication: Business processes Structure of departments 11

12 Finding a happy medium that acknowledges all of these is ideal, but not always possible. Migrating less business critical folders / departments in the first phases is also a best practice when possible. File Server Clean Up Before Drive Migration It is tempting to just kick off the migration to Drive and pull over the existing file server as is. However, taking the time to perform housekeeping prior to the migration will save you time and headaches during the migration process. First, you will want to determine a policy on what files are not going to be migrated (i.e. personal, audio, video, etc) and instruct end users to delete or move prior to a certain cut off time. This can coincide with the start date of their migration phase or any days / weeks prior. Admins can also choose to simply remove the items themselves after a certain deadline. Per your audit and future file management strategy, you may decide to redesign and reorganize your folder naming and structure. It is recommended to perform this on the File Server prior to the migration as this simplifies the mapping of the migration and the clean up needed once the folders are in Google Drive. Drive migration can be time consuming when your file server has a lot of unnecessary files on it and deleting these files will simplify the process and save time. Cleaning up your file server is an essential part of preparing for Drive migration. Determine Google Groups for Blanket permissions When migrating to Google Drive, another key finding in your audit will be how folder permissions are currently grouped by users. It is likely you will be redesigning these groupings as well and will want to look for a structure to consolidate users into permission groups that allow easy and intuitive provisioning of permissions. Ideally this permission structure will align with folder structures (i.e. accounting team is provided access to the accounting folder, but this is not always organizationally feasible). Keep in mind Google Groups are most commonly used for internal department group ing, so Groups with specific naming conventions, designated for managing permissions in Drive, may need to be created depending on your organization's permission requirements and use of Google Groups as mailing lists. Setup & Provisioning 12

13 Depending on the tool you select you may need to find a dedicated machine to run the migration on premise. On premise tools obviously serve a speed advantage opposed to cloud based tools that need to access the network, however you will want to evaluate the tools based on your infrastructure and requirements. You will also want to be sure and allocate the necessary storage to your Google Drive service account or individual owner accounts. Be sure to provide some buffer in alloted storage, as moving platforms can often result in different data size calculations. Enabling Google Apps APIs, creating your service account and mapping users / groups are other common preparations needed depending on your chosen tool requirements. End user communication plan A migration from a File Server to Google Drive can often have more of a learning curve for end users in comparison to what you may see in an migration. This transition requires extra attention in communicating the expectations of the new platform and any adjusted workflow and business processes that may have changed in the replatforming. Visual communications and comparisons over webinar and classroom settings are recommended to educate end users on the differences between the two platforms and the potential adjustments in business workflows. Migration Phased Rollout Based on your testing you will want to migrate in phases that are able to be completed in a time period that least interferes with business operations (i.e. the weekend). However you will want to balance this with segments that allow for clear communication of which files should be migrated and which system is the record of truth to access certain files after the migration. For very large data migrations with longer rollouts and multiple phases, a published end user facing document stating which platform is the record of truth for which files and folders can be helpful in support during the transition. Once migrated, locking down or moving folders/files in the previous file server location is a common practice to reduce confusion to which system to access the file. This also will surface any end user issues in the migration, alerting IT immediately. In the likely event you had to migrate in phases, be sure to document and seek feedback in the initial phases and utilize this data to improve upon the timing, user experience, and approach to reiterate and improve on the next phases. Drive Migration can be a complicated task but a well planned and prepared strategy can help simplify the process. Communicating with end users will help decrease confusion during the migration and allow them to fully use the powerful tools that Google Drive offers. 13

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