One of the biggest challenges that I have had with OneDrive for Business is simple: the sync client just doesn’t work reliably.
OneDrive for Business (OD4B) sync client allows users to sync Office 365 document content down to their personal device. This is a key use case for transitioning to the cloud, because users expect documents to be available locally, particularly documents they would have traditionally saved to My Documents. OD4B sync is key to any transition to Office 365. It needs to work. I use the OneDrive for Business (OD4B) client to sync documents from SharePoint Online, SharePoint 2013, and OneDrive for Business Online (Office 365) on multiple PCs. More than once a week I have to reset the sync, delete local content, and re-sync everything on at least one of my machines. Because of all the issues with the sync client, I moved one particular session at Microsoft Ignite to the top of my list: I Sync, Therefore I Am: A Deep Dive on OneDrive Sync Capabilities and Roadmap. I highly recommend watching it – but if you don’t have time, below is a rundown of what’s changing with the OneDrive for Business Sync client. Here is the summary: Microsoft acknowledges that the current OD4B sync client needs a major overhaul. That work is underway now, and we should expect to see a new version in the 2015 Q4 time frame. If you are considering an enterprise-wide rollout of the OD4B sync client, wait until 2016.
Current Usage of the OneDrive for Business Sync Client
As of April 2015, there are two major sync clients:
- OneDrive (For Consumers)
- OneDrive For Business
Here is the current state: The OneDrive For Consumers sync client was just rewritten and it is very stable. The same can’t be said for OD4B. As well, the OneDrive for Business Sync Client syncs more than just OneDrive for Business, it also syncs the following:
- OneDrive for Business Personal Document Libraries
- SharePoint Online Document Libraries
- SharePoint 2013 OneDrive for Business On-Premises Personal Sites (formerly “MySites”)
- SharePoint 2013 Document Libraries
This makes sense, since the OneDrive for Business sync client is a distant relative of Groove / SharePoint Workspace. SharePoint evolved so the sync tool evolved, and now that sync client is called OneDrive for Business.
The Future of the OneDrive for Business Sync Client
So what does the future hold for the OneDrive for Business sync client? Well, there’s good news and bad news forthcoming in Q4.
In Q3, Microsoft is planning to release a Preview version of the new OneDrive sync tool. This sync tool will sync both OneDrive (consumer) and OneDrive for Business (O365). The tool will remove the limit of only syncing 20,000 files, will also support large files up to 10GB, and allow selective folder sync. The non-Preview version of this client will be released in Q4.
This will not replace all of the sync scenarios that we have today. Essentially, Microsoft is adding OneDrive for Business capability into the OneDrive personal client. This new client isn’t going to support syncing OneDrive for Business On-Premises (MySites), SharePoint 2013, or SharePoint Online, so you will have to continue using the existing client for those scenarios. There is nothing from Microsoft yet about when these scenarios will fold into the OneDrive consumer sync client. These scenarios are fairly complex to handle, and it isn’t trivial to update both the server and client ends of an entire sync experience. Altogether, Microsoft has added some strong features to the OneDrive for Business sync Client that will improve how the tool works for the key workload of personal documents. However, they are still far from reaching my expectations, because of their focus on OneDrive in the cloud. I look forward to what they will develop in the forthcoming year, and hope that they will incorporate solutions into the On-Premises version of OneDrive for Business. If you enjoyed this, you might also enjoy these other Microsoft Ignite posts.