Cloud computing. Well, it’s here. Business value is being gained, services are being used, and budgets are being cut using Cloud hosting Services, be they public, private, or other. It isn’t something you can hide from, and the longer you drag your feet, the worse off you are.
Every day that goes by that IT is not meeting the services and features offered in the cloud, users are moving there by themselves. No solid recovery or backup options for their laptops? Carbonite is taking care of it. No file sharing alternative? They’re using Dropbox. No office collaboration environment? They’re on Google Docs. Now your data is external to your corporate walls, outside of compliance, and outside your control.
The concept itself isn’t novel. For many years, businesses have been using Gmail to transfer files larger than corporate restrictions and Yahoo Messenger to send an instant message. Now the scope has amplified, and the options have attained exponential growth. Bigger data sets are being pushed outside your firewalls and stored on different unknown servers across the planet. What’s worse is it is being done on a person-by-person or department-by-department basis. Your data may be strewn across various online collaboration services or file-sharing applications.
The utilization of these systems is just a small part of the problem. The bigger picture is enabling users to switch over, thereby retrieving that data once an alternative is implemented. Every day that passes by that users are on an unsanctioned IT service makes it difficult to go back. Once Pandora’s box is opened, you can’t close it.
From the perspective of a user, you’ll have to provide an approved product/service that is as good or better to get them to switch. There’s no such thing as an easy task. It’s much easier to offer something that works upfront before users get familiar with an interface you may not be able to match immediately. This is exactly where an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
Another nightmare is the data itself. For example, consider Dropbox, and narrow the scope to a best-case scenario – where Dropbox is the only file-sharing tool available to the user. Take 100 users with a little less than 2 GB of data shared through Dropbox. That is approximately 100 GB of data stored across the back end of the S3 service of Amazon. That’s the data for which you neither have backup nor accountability. If you implement an approved file-share option at this point, how will you get that data migrated over? How will compliance be enforced?
Another hiccup: How do you make sure that the data is scrubbed from Dropbox? What is Amazon S3’s policy on the back end of Dropbox? What is Dropbox’s retention policy? Is space just reallocated, or the data truly scrubbed from disks?
The IT landscape is changing in a rapid manner, and the consumerization of IT is driving the majority of it. The TVs, tablets, and phones of your users can sync photos, movies, and a lot more without any effort from them. For their work environment, the users want the same simple function.
If IT isn’t offering it, someone will – and that puts the jobs of IT and business at risk. If a user with a credit card can set up backup and data sharing for a department, why does the organization need an admin again? Develop the services in-house, standardizing on public cloud offerings where applicable; don’t stall on new services and the benefits of the cloud.