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Using SkyDrive Pro with SharePoint 2013 Online through Office 365 or On Premises

The Office 365 SharePoint Online 2013 service includes SkyDrive Pro. We started using this service after our Office 365 Enterprise E3 service was upgraded, on April 6, 2013, to the 2013 structure and interfaces.

Most organizations will need to understand the differences between this service and the free SkyDrive offer before planning to implement the Pro version. The published Microsoft Office description of the Pro service includes an important point, which is still unclear after one reads the whole description of the service:

  1. If the SkyDrive service offers users an option to share files with “friends”, and the SkyDrive Pro service offers users an option to share files with colleagues and other members of business teams, what is the real difference, if any in the way the information is shared?

The Microsoft Office description touches briefly, but, in our opinion, vaguely on the distinction: “This SkyDrive Pro library is managed by your organization and from there you can easily share and collaborate on content with co-workers. In addition, with the SkyDrive Pro client application, you can synchronize library files and folders with your local computer.” But the actual details of how organizations can manage the service are not included in the definition. We can’t find any administration screens in Office 365 where a user could set policy for the use of a corporate SkyDrive Pro service.

We were grateful to find a very helpful article on this topic published today, April 11, 2013 on the CIO web site. Authored by Jonathan Hassell, Clearing Up Microsoft SkyDrive Pro Confusion dispels most of our misunderstandings.

After reading Mr. Hassell’s article, and playing around with the feature on our Office 365 account, we think the policy setting capability noted in the Microsoft Office definition refers to the policies administrators can implement over SharePoint Shared Document Libraries and Lists. As Mr. Hassell clarifies, SkyDrive Pro is nothing more than an extension of SharePoint 2013 Online. Any syncing required to update lists published, for example, from spreadsheet data, will need to be obtained from the appropriate SharePoint services and NOT from the sync service included with SkyDrive Pro.

Ira Michael Blonder

© Rehmani Consulting, Inc. & Ira Michael Blonder, 2013 All Rights Reserved