Zoho revamps document management, says Canadian data centre coming in 2020

TORONTO — When Zoho CRM launched in November 2005, the company was known as AdventNet (it become Zoho Corporation in May 2009) and had just dipped its toes into the cloud world with its first cloud business app, Writer. The company had less than one million users.

Fast forward to 2019, and Zoho now has over 50 million users (up from over 30 million at the beginning of last year) and more than 40 apps running the gamut from CRM to email, no code/low code development to file management. It has ten data centres worldwide, and is in use at companies like Amazon, Netflix, Renault, KPMG and HP.

Canada is a growth area for the company, Chandrashekar LSP (known as LSP), Montreal-based Zoho Canada head evangelist, noted at the company’s recent Zoholics user conference. That’s why Zoho is planning to add a Canadian data centre to the mix. Originally the opening date was scheduled for 2021, but based on customer and partner requests, the company is now aiming for some time in 2020.

With all this growth and change in its business, the company decided it was time to revamp its document management system.

“Document management is an essential feature, not a product,” LSP explained, and all of the 40-plus apps use files. When the cloud storage systems were developed, they were designed for consumers, with no notion of access control, collaboration, or other business capabilities. That, plus the fact that Zoho felt that it was time to create a unified file system to allow its apps to transparently exchange information, led to the development of WorkDrive.

“There are so many different silos where documents existed, and they were not centrally available,” he said. “So every department made its own storage space in a storage service – in the case of Zoho, Zoho’s cloud – created folders, and it was more individual-centric. What we bring in the context of WorkDrive is it’s for an organization. What is cardinal to WorkDrive is the whole notion of team folders.

“Once you create a team folder, you then give it attributes like who can access it, you set up things like whether someone within this particular team folder can edit the document, can they share the document – you have all these fine grained access control mechanisms. Now, on top of that, by virtue of the fact that you are in a team folder, it also lends itself by default to collaboration because any document that is created by anybody within the team folder is going to be sharable.”

WorkDrive provides the underlying document management across all Zoho business applications, allowing for unified search, single storage, contextual integration, as well as many other vertically integrated capabilities. And, said LSP, it provides a system with security and privacy compliance as well as data management, all controlled by the IT administrator.

It retains version history, files are natively auto scanned for malware, encrypted both in transit and at rest, and backed up. It also plays well with other vendor applications through native integrations; there are currently add-ons for Microsoft Office and Gmail.

A desktop version creates a virtual directory of WorkDrive cloud contents, not downloading anything until it is accessed by the user and syncing any changes back to the cloud.

The file system is at the Zoho platform level, so it inherits the platform’s capabilities to detect malware and phishing, he explained. Additionally, it inherits capabilities such as image processing and optical character recognition (OCR); Zoho is currently working on adding AI-based object detection, unified search, and directory services (Active Directory support is already inherited from the platform). APIs allow developers to add platform features to their own applications.

WorkDrive is included in the Zoho One and Zoho Workplace bundles and includes the Zoho Office Suite. It starts at $2 per month per user, billed annually.

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Lynn Greiner
Lynn Greiner
Lynn Greiner has been interpreting tech for businesses for over 20 years and has worked in the industry as well as writing about it, giving her a unique perspective into the issues companies face. She has both IT credentials and a business degree.

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