When LMRoss moved to Google Docs from Exchange we began to use Drive a lot, both in house and externally as well, for sharing and collaborating on documents. In fact, most of the customers that have moved away from in house mail tend to use the sharing functions of their new host, such as Google Apps for Business or Microsoft Office 365. It’s a large part of the reason for moving to a platform that is more relevant to the way we work today.
While an Exchange server became a possibility for small and medium sized businesses ten or fifteen years ago and it let them be competitive at the time, it’s no longer providing the same value. But it is familiar and comfortable. Along side Exchange we’d install an FTP server or if we were real fancy, a read only section of their website that was password protected. FTP has it’s place. But it’s a smaller place now than it ever has been. People like easy. FTP, ain’t easy. The website download sections are extremely limited. But both were amazing a decade ago.
Those folks that stay with an in house mail server often use other Cloud Application options for sharing documents and collaborating options, most commonly either Box (www.Box.com) or DropBox (www.Dropbox.com) for Business. Both options are comparable and work well.
DropBox for Business is about 900 a year for 5 users (minimum). Box for Business is around 540 a year for 3 users (minimum). They are both 15 dollars per month per user, with DropBox having a higher minimum user requirement. Now these users are the folks in your organization if you will. Your subs and customers don’t count and they can get free accounts on both services if they don’t have some already.
Both services provide free versions but the downside is the ability to limit and control access. I’d say from that standpoint Box has the most flexibility and it has always been designed to be a business to business platform.
The thing I really like about both services is the synchronization aspects. You can be out of coverage and still work on something. Don’t think of this as just a way to share files with subs and vendors, think of it as a way to work when away from the office or internet coverage as well. A major productivity booster!