How I Got Team Drive on the G Suite Basic Plan

TLDR:

I setup two organizations: ABCCorp.Com and ABCCorp.Net. The first has all my users paying only for Basic, the second has only one user paying for Business. Create and share Team Drives from the one Business plan organization (ABCCorp.Net) to any individual or group from the other (ABCCorp.Com). Please beware of limitations!

Background

I have been analyzing cloud storage solutions for about 25 users–Egnyte, AutoTask, Dropbox, Box, G Suite, etc.

The main challenge is this: how can we effectively control files across the organization with granular permission controls and a minimal use of end user hard drive space.

That is why I was excited about G Suite’s recent announcement about Team Drive and Drive File Stream. Those names are confusing. But basically, here is what they do:

  1. Team Drive allows you to create folders that are owned by a “team” as opposed to an individual. Anyone who is a part of the team automatically has access.
  2. Drive File Stream (akin to Dropbox Smart Sync) gives you a native file browsing experience on your computer without actually downloading all the files in G Suite Drive. In other words, it is sort of like the way your iPhone accesses files from Dropbox: you can browse all the files using the native file explorer, rename, copy, etc. But it isn’t until you open the file that it downloads to your local computer. The advantage is that this will save your hard drive space. So if your organization has terabytes of photos and videos and your laptop only has 128GB free, File Stream will (should) work wonders.

Problem

I was so excited about these developments:

  • We can now have one platform for email, basic office applications (word processing, spreadsheets, presentations, online meetings, etc) that also takes care of file storage.
  • We don’t have to worry about filling up our hard drives
  • We don’t have to worry about who the original owner of a file is–we can now determine that with a Team Drive

Then I realized that these feature are only available to the higher priced G Suite Business ($10 / user / month) as opposed to G Suite Basic ($5 / user / month).

No problem, I figured. I can setup a quick trial. But, turns out, if you have G Suite Basic, there is no way to trial G Suite Business. So the only way to trial the product is to upgrade my entire organization. (Does this make any sense–upgrading an entire organization just to try a new product?).

Furthermore, it turns out that my billing plan no longer exists. I have an annual plan that gives me a slight discount ($4.17/user/month instead of $5/user/month). If I want to try G Suite Business, I have to upgrade AND change my billing method from annual to monthly. I will then lose this grandfathered provision. Confirmed by G Suite Support below:

Hello Peter,

Thank you for taking my call. We spoke on Friday regarding upgrading to G Suite Business.

As discussed during our call, once you upgrade to G Suite Business you would be able to downgrade back to basic however we would have to change you to the flexible plan in order to do that. We would not be able to change you back to an annual plan since annual plans are not available anymore for U.S customers. I wish I would be able to help you with this however, we there are policies that we have to follow and certain workarounds I am sending you a support article of G Suite Business. https://support.google.com/a/answer/6034782?hl=en

As per your approval, I’ll proceed to close the case. If there’s anything else I can do for you regarding your Google Cloud account, please reply to this message and I’ll be happy to assist you further.

Sincerely,

Dilsa

Workaround

I wasn’t quite ready to upgrade everyone to run a trial. I realized that I own multiple domains and just so happened to have a separate G Suite account with just one user. Maybe I could demo that account for just $5 extra per month, while maintaining my grandfathered annual billing plan. Great, problem solved.

And then I discovered that Team Drives can be shared outside your organization.

Hmmm…..

So I shared each Team Drive with my main organization email. No problem. Works fine. In otherwords, I have two domains: ABCCorporation.COM and ABCCorporation.NET, one with all my users on G Suite Basic, the other with just one user on G Suite Business. The one user on G Suite Business proceeds to share files with the other domain (the less costly domain). Then I discover that this sharing also works on groups. So if I have a group, say, MARKETING@ABCCorporation.Com, I can create and then share a MARKETING Team Drive from ABCCorporation.Net to ABCCorporation.Com.

In other words, I can now setup and use Team Drive for an entire organization by simply creating a secondary domain and secondary account, and only paying and extra $10 / month total, rather than upgrading all of my users on my primary domain.

Limitations

To be sure, this is not how the product was designed. I know this is a strange work around and probably subject to breaking. For example, if you have less than 5 users, you are limited to 1 TB per user. Still, not bad.

Anybody else know of other limitations?

Conclusion

I never intended to setup my organization this way and do not intend on doing it. My problem is merely that I want to test this great G Suite product, but unfortunately Google has not setup an easy way to go about it.

I still have not gotten to try out File Stream — waiting on the Early Action Program.

Please share your thoughts in the comments below.

#Cloud Storage#Email#G Suite