I’ve written a lot about online/offline access and a couple of things have happened of late that has really pushed that concept forward quite a bit. There was the obvious move from Google to announce offline access for Docs and I’m really looking forward to getting my hands on that.
However, in the meantime I’ve fallen in love with a product called SugarSync. Quite simply, Microsoft needs to buy this company and built it into the OS and they need to do it yesterday.
For those who have not seen SugarSync, it does what I’ve been pleading for, for years. It sits in the background and automatically synchs your folder on your PC with a virtual drive in the cloud. Not only that it can sync that virtual drive with multiple PCs. I now have my work PC, home PC and laptop PC with near identical folders, plus an online drive just in case I’m at any other PC. I can now get any file that I’ve been working on – no matter where I am and if I’m using one of my personal computers I get the speed and performance of desktop access.
If I had of had this product 2 years ago before I started migrating all my apps to SaaS services I may not have gone down the Google Apps path. Access of files from multiple PCs was my biggest pain-point. Now, I’m hooked on the collaboration aspect as well but if I was Microsoft I’d be buying SugarSync and I’d have bought them yesterday. This kind of functionality should have been at the core of Vista. Not only would it represent a major leap forward in Web-enabling the Windows operating system but, as mentioned, it makes all of Microsoft’s desktop apps work in the cloud.
All Microsoft would then need to do is build collaboration-features directly into its productivity suite and you really would combine the benefits of offline and online. Office with SugarSync and P2P live collaboration functionality would be a major step forward and would be infinitely more compelling than a revamp of the user-interface like we got in the last version. (Sugarsync also works with mobile devices and Macs btw)
Anyway, back to SugarSync. These guys have just cut their pricing plans in half and now you can get a 10Gb annual subscription for $US25. It’s just a no-brainer if you use multiple computers. My only feedback for Gibu and and the team is you really need to introduce a business plan. I need a ten-user license to roll this out across my team and then I don’t need to worry about backup issues anymore.
And of course the killer feature for small businesses would be the ability to share folders between team members. I’m a bit surprised this wasn’t a part of the service from launch as it wouldn’t seem that difficult to implement given the syncing nature of the product so I hope its on the roadmap!