Office 365 vs. Box or Drive

Cloud-based file storage services have already been on the market for a number of years, and have reached a place of maturity and stability. If your primary concern is being able to organize storage of your team-based files, there are a number of choices available, from dedicated storage solutions such as Box and Dropbox to productivity suites like Office 365.

With so many options available, how should you go about selecting the right storage service for your company?

The Comparison

File storage services like Box and Dropbox are certainly strong choices for document-based collaboration. Dropbox initially began as a consumer-grade option that has also added a number of team-based and enterprise-wide document collaboration options. Dedicated file storage solutions aren’t a bad option, especially if your company has never been a Microsoft shop.

However, these solutions also have limited functionalities beyond storage. If you envision more than just document-based collaboration and light chatting, you’ll typically have to add more tools to your workflow.

Similarly, Office 365 also requires users to navigate multiple services, like OneDrive and SharePoint, for document storage, and Office 365 groups or Yammer for collaboration. If you’re looking for a simple and unified solution instead of one where you have to switch between multiple tools, then Office 365 may be too complicated. However, these multiple services are all managed by Microsoft, which does have benefits in terms of user experience and ease of integration.

OneWindow’s Choice

OneWindow relies on Office 365 for file storage in order to take advantage of the breadth of the Microsoft software suite. Word, Excel and other programs can save directly into OneDrive, whereas using other vendors would involve manually saving and uploading files, or installing additional plugins in order to save and open directly. Building on top of these available services and the integrations they provide saves time on both ends and provides a familiar user experience.

Many clients who would not be described as traditional Microsoft shops have expressed interest in OneWindow and the Office 365 platform. One of these clients does not even have a classic on-premises Active Directory, which is a staple for most of the Microsoft shops out there.

Important Considerations

When picking a storage service, always consider your users, specifically with regards to the tools and operating systems they rely on. These days, users will likely be using a true mix of devices that goes beyond the traditional Mac vs. PC divide, from desktops and laptops to tablets and smartphones. Also examine what tasks users are performing, and on which devices.

Dedicated solutions like Box and Dropbox integrate quite well into these platforms. Where Microsoft continues to shine is in the end-to-end integration of the client suite into their server-side offerings. If you’ve traditionally had a number of Windows-based systems and have deployed the Office product suite in your enterprise, Office 365 continues to be a good choice.

However, this is by no means the entirety of Office 365’s client base; even some primarily Mac-based shops are now choosing to deploy Office 365.

Final Thought

In the end, you need to do your homework and go with the solution that gives you the best value. The financial aspect is also important to consider when making the final choice. Compare the rates that you would be paying for individual user licenses, such as the cost of Box or Dropbox, to the overall dollar value that you would get out of an E1 or E3 license on Office 365.

Topics: Knowledge Management & Governance, Office 365
Val Orekhov

Val Orekhov is the CTO of Microsoft Solutions and Services at Withum. Val has more than 15 years of experience in web development technology and consulting. As Chief Technology Officer, he is responsible for setting the overall technical strategy and providing technical oversight for projects and delivery.