Just as jelly is to peanut butter, consumerized cloud storage options like Dropbox are to mobility. The bring-your-own-device (BYOD) trend has changed all the rules for IT--and very few of those changes really have to do with the devices at all. The biggest paradigm shifts are all about how the user accesses and shares information. The lesson is that if IT doesn't start offering its own flavor of enterprise storage that plays well with users' devices, it will find its user base hiding in the corner, left to eat sandwiches of their own making.
"People want to bring their own devices, and they've been accustomed to these consumer-grade storage applications like Dropbox that have set expectations for how easy it should be for them to get their data," says Andres Rodriguez, CEO of Nasuni. "What's really driving IT crazy is the fact that if IT doesn't give those services to their employees, their employees will find a way around it."
Doubt it? According to a survey conducted earlier this summer by Ponemon Institute, a majority of IT workers reported that this level of storage circumvention is already happening. According to 60% of respondents, their user bases frequently or very frequently use Dropbox to share sensitive information without permission from their employers.
Dropbox is but one of the public cloud-based storage options that enterprise users are bringing to work, of course. But the underlying risk brought to the table by mobile users' thirst for anytime access through consumer-grade storage is persistent, regardless of the provider.
"It has zero corporate controls, zero protection and zero security," Steve Duplessie, founder of IT analyst firm Enterprise Strategy Group, says about these storage services.
As customers complain of the pain point, vendors from many different quarters have already started whipping up their own version of what they're all calling "Dropbox for the Enterprise." The phrase has grown so much in favor that even back in March, The 451 Group highlighted the already ad nauseum use of it as vendors struggled to describe their spin on "enterprise-grade Dropbox."
For its part, The 451 Group analysts eventually settled on "Mobile File Sharing and Sync Platforms," stating that the fundamental characteristic of these pervasive storage services for the enterprise are the interface with mobile devices.
"The mobility part of this, as opposed to cloud, is what is really new and disruptive," wrote Kathleen Reidy for The 451 Group, explaining that vendor pedigrees are all over the map. "We see vendors from virtualization, security, storage, content management and mobility sectors all vying for attention."
The list of vendors just keeps growing. Last month, VMware finally took its much-discussed Project Octopus out of beta and christened it with the official name VMware Horizon Suite, which allows IT to customize a service catalog for all of its data and applications and deliver information across devices controlled by policies on user attributes and environment.
And this week another new contender threw its hat in the ring, when enterprise storage vendor Nasuni went live with mobile access to its enterprise storage platform designed for distributed organizations. Nasuni's consolidated storage brings together primary storage with built-in backup, replication, and off-site protection using an on-site appliance connected to the cloud.
Next: Designing a Mobile Cloud Storage Option