Bring Your Own Cloud
As employees continue to bring personal mobile devices and laptops into the workplace, most businesses have resigned themselves to dealing with the security and management headaches of the new BYOD reality. But now, with the growing popularity of cloud storage and synchronization services, companies have found themselves facing the next wave in the consumerization of IT: “Bring your own cloud” or BYOC.
In large part due to the flexibility of cloud collaboration services, it’s not uncommon for employees to telecommute from home or from one office to another. Many of these employees back up the entire contents of their computers with services like Carbonite or sync their data between computers with services such as Dropbox or SkyDrive. The practice may seem harmless, but it’s a data management and security headache for IT administrators.
IBM recently banned its employees from using iCloud and Dropbox on any device containing company data, and it’s far from the first. IT managers of companies dealing in significant amounts of confidential and proprietary data can’t do their jobs unless they can control data security and leakage. Employees who share their data with cloud storage services put that information outside the company firewall and beyond the IT department’s visibility. Users who lack tech savvy may even put data at risk of being unintentionally modified or deleted by misconfiguring a cloud app’s file sync settings.
In response to IT professionals’ frustration with the unauthorized use of personal cloud services, Spiceworks—a social network of over two million IT professionals—released a new version of its network analysis tool (Spiceworks 6.0) that can detect over 40 different cloud services running on a network. The tool, which seems to be the first of its kind in public release, identifies all of the cloud services running across a network and which devices they’re running on. The tool’s creation was in direction response to the Spiceworks community’s frustration with the growing BYOC trend.
Corporate executives are also waking up to the reality of BYOC risks at the enterprise level. A recent survey by Forrester found that only 36% of organizations currently have policies in place regarding public cloud storage services, but Forrester analysts expect that number to grow dramatically over the next year.
One of the most common responses to the BYOC phenomenon is for companies to foist a single centrally managed cloud service on their employees. Google Apps and Office 365, for example, have experienced strong growth in the SMB sector, and Box tripled their enterprise cloud storage revenue in 2011. All three services now integrate central data management and strong security features.
As IT administrators fight back against the consumerization of IT—at least when it comes to company data—the future may see a wave of new centrally managed cloud storage services. In a preface to a potentially much larger movement, Google surprised many of its Google Apps resellers by recently announcing that Google Apps administrators will be able to administer their users’ Google Drive accounts. If Google’s willing to do it, then who isn’t?
By Joseph Walker