• 06/12/2012
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BYOD and Cloud Storage: How Dropbox Has Changed the Game

Dropbox and other consumer-facing cloud storage services are fast becoming a focus for enterprise IT. Find out why you should be concerned about your network security.

While some might point to the risks of BYOD and consumer-facing cloud storage services as a sign that cloud computing is inherently insecure, Mark Tauschek, lead analyst at Info-Tech Research Group, disagrees.

"Certain types of cloud storage would be seen as insecure alternatives to on-premise or hybrid. Services like Dropbox are problematic because there's really no control over the files and data that ends up there," he says. "Other enterprise-targeted cloud storage solutions are more manageable. There are also solutions coming out from mobile device management vendors where there are secure content lockers. They don't go as far as enterprise content management, but you can control the data."

Tauschek agreed with Osnat that the BYOD-cloud storage predicament is fast-becoming a focus for enterprise IT.

"This has happened so quickly. This phenomenon, if you will, started to trickle in with the introduction of the iPhone 3G--so, in less than four years," he said. "It's really taken off in the last 12 to 18 months and has become a major issue, and it's a challenge that's being met by a lot of different types of solutions."

Terri McClure, a senior analyst at Enterprise Strategy Group, says security and policies are generally the focus of questions surrounding BYOD. But storage is a concern, as well, she adds, because as soon as you start using multiple, consumer-grade devices to access data, what's the most efficient and cost-effective way to get to that data?

"I think that's really one of the drivers behind the online file-sharing and collaboration market. Users aren't necessarily waiting for IT to solve the problem," she says. "If I have multiple devices, how so I share the same data across them? In the olden days, we'd email it to ourselves and sometimes we still do, but that's not efficient, so people are solving it themselves by signing up for personal Dropbox accounts."

Does that make Dropbox and its success the envy of other cloud storage vendors?

"That's a loaded question. Dropbox is probably by far the most adopted solution out there because it's a free, consumer solution that's very easy to get up and running on," says McClure. "I'm sure everyone envies their install base and ease of use. However, once you get into enterprise usage and you look at administration, security, application integration and all the things enterprise IT looks for, Dropbox isn't focused on those administration functionalities."

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, adds Tauschek. So services like Google Drive, which emulates Dropbox in a lot of ways, are indicative of the success of Dropbox in the cloud storage space.

"In terms of document management, access rights for personal devices and maintaining segmentation between corporate and personal data on devices, storage vendors have come a long way in a very short period of time," he says. "There are compelling solutions available [for enterprise IT]."

Meanwhile, Dropbox introduced Dropbox for Teams last year and appears to be making small, visible moves toward enterprise IT. McClure thinks it would be a tall order for the vendor to find success in the enterprise, however.

"This is my conjecture: They've got a massive consumer installed base. Even though they got $250 million in funding last fall, they've got a lot of development work to do in order to keep up with that base," she says. "It's really tough to juggle addressing the entire business market while simultaneously not abandoning their bread-and-butter market. It wouldn't surprise me to see them make strides to try to capture some of the business users and strengthen their enterprise usage side, but it'll be a tough road to travel."

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