Jun 04 2012

Bring Your Own Cloud: Will It Be a Tough Sell for Business?

Workers are already comfortable with bringing their own devices to work, so why not bring their own clouds as well?

The consumerization of IT trend is really pushing it. After catapulting the bring your own device (BYOD) movement into the workplace, there’s now talk of a bring your own cloud (BYOC) agenda.

This is being spurred on by consumer cloud-based storage solutions, such as DropBox and iCloud, which allow users to upload and access files in the cloud on an unlimited number of devices.

Chris Murphy, editor of InformationWeek magazine, believes that the BYOC shift is one that IT can’t avoid. He detailed his thoughts on the latest tech trend in a column for InformationWeek.

BYOC pressure will force IT to deal with cloud storage, whether it's Google Drive, Microsoft SkyDrive, Apple iCloud, Dropbox, Box, or some other variation. All these services let people save files of different types online, and they can be accessed from different devices and shared with other people. All of them offer some level of free storage, with additional storage and in some cases administrative controls for IT to use in a business environment for a price.

IT organizations have a lot of experience sifting through features and finding an option that works for the company. The key thing for IT to remember is that employees aren't going to wait for that process before they start pouring files into cloud storage. BYOC has begun, whether IT's involved or not.

While businesses may have good reason to consider adopting BYOD initiatives, there are a number of reasons to hold off on a BYOC policy.

In a recent CloudTweaks article, Joseph Walker highlighted the battle that companies are waging as they attempt to lock down corporate data and intellectual property. The USB drive used to be the Big Bad Wolf in this scenario, but now the personal cloud looms large as the biggest potential source of data leaks.

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 direct response to the Spiceworks community’s frustration with the growing BYOC trend.

Both BYOD and BYOC speak to the blurred lines between professional and personal lives. No longer do workers live and die by punching in and punching out at a set time. As a result, work tends to drift between the home and the enterprise.

Is your company ready for a BYOC world?