BetterCloud fights the Google Apps fight with 2.75M users, adds Google Drive-specific features

By Nathaniel Mott , written on October 11, 2012

From The News Desk

For decades, "productivity suite" was near-synonymous with "Microsoft Office." Microsoft's suite was the package of necessity ("choice" is too strong a word) for teachers, students, researchers, and essentially anyone that needed to type a few words or make a spreadsheet.

Google has been trying to change that, first with its Docs suite and then its souped-up Drive product. Featuring collaborative, cloud-based editing and easy document sharing, Google's suite hits Microsoft right where it hurts: the cloud.

Unfortunately, it isn't all strawberries and rainbows in Drive-land. Though the suite checks all of the right boxes on the front-end, from an administrative standpoint Google has offered precious little access to analytics or control over what an employee is doing with their Drive account. Which is where BetterCloud comes in.

We originally covered BetterCloud in July when it debuted its FlashPanel management software. At the time it had 300,000 beta users, and was still working on building support for Google's then-new productivity suite. Now, FlashPanel is used by 2.75 million users from 10,000 different businesses, and the dashboard has a slew of new Drive-specific features.

Today, the biggest Drive-specific feature is an analytics tool, Assets, baked directly into FlashPanel. Managers are able to see exactly how much storage their employees are using, the number of publicly shared documents, and the total number of documents associated with each person and the company as a whole.

Being able to see the number of publicly shared documents is particularly useful for companies that don't want their internal docs made visible to the entire world. BetterCloud CEO David Politis says that there was one company that had accidentally made all of its sales documents available to the public without even knowing it. FlashPanel's new tools caught the mistake and allowed the company to go into full-on, "make that shit private!" mode.

Which, conveniently enough, seques perfectly into FlashPanel's next, yet to be released Drive-specific feature. BetterCloud is currently building a tool to help manage document editors' sharing permissions, preventing mistakes like the one described above. A manager will be able to say that someone can't share a document outside of the company, that they can only share via email, or that they can't share anything at all. FlashPanel is watching, and it doesn't like what you're trying to share outside of the company, Susan.

According to Politis, that kind of visibility is exactly what FlashPanel is about. Companies want to know, and want to be able to control, what their employees are doing with their computers. Since Google doesn't offer that data in a clean, intuitive way, FlashPanel is ready to fill that niche.

Frankly, if I were in charge of PandoDaily's Google Apps account and had to monitor who had access to what and how they could use Google Drive or other 'Apps, FlashPanel would be the first thing I installed. The tool is well-designed and puts access to all kinds of controls and information right in front of the user, instead of hiding them behind arcane menus and submenus.