Responsible cloud storage

Weve observed a growing number of staff sharing files using popular 'cloud' mechanisms such as DropBox, SkyDrive, ICloud, and others. Sharing files is great, but there are some problems associated with it. We’re recommending that our users use the CGXchange Google Drive file sharing mechanism instead of other products for the following reasons: 

  • Information is the most valuable institutional asset, and we must make sure to handle it with care. Sharing institutional information using private cloud accounts does not comply with institutional policies. 
  • Most cloud sharing and storage systems synchronize data to and from one or more devices (e.g. computers, phones, tablets). The growing amount of cloud storage and devices results in a significant increase in network use, making other network traffic slower. Traffic to and from the   collaboration system (which includes e-mail, calendaring, docs, and the Drive) is routed via a separate high-capacity connection to Google's servers. This means that for Drive usage the synchronization does not impact internet performance
  • Private cloud services do not offer any sort of organizational asset controls. When using the Drive option we can resolve issues such as forgotten passwords and staff changes, for other systems we cannot
  • Our help desk staff is fully qualified to support all Drive features. They will not provide support for other file sharing mechanisms
  • The price of Drive storage is very competitive in comparison with other services: each user gets 5 GB free storage, and additional storage can be provisioned at additional cost (between USD 0.10 and 0.20 per GB per month, depending on volume, and with a minimum of 20 GB). Note that Drive storage is measured separately from the 25 GB mail storage available to each account

Using the Drive feature, you can invite colleagues to either view, edit, or comment specific files or folders. All changes in file content are subject to version control, and can be traced back to the person that made them. Changes can be accepted, modified, or rejected.

The Drive feature can also be used to share files with other, non CGIAR colleagues, but please note that this should be done with caution. This will usually be for non-confidential information. Most other cloud products have similar policies to Google. Sharing of confidential files should be via ftp.

We will roll-out the software required to use the Drive feature to all managed workstations, and for staff in country offices we'll be happy to assist in the installation. Note that there are versions of the Drive software available for Windows, Mac systems, iOS (iPad and iPhone), and Android devices