If I have to take one overarching theme away from CITE this week, I think the title sums it up: IT needs to empower mobile workers and others that are using consumer technology because otherwise they will just empower themselves. Mobile devices are here, in the enterprise-embrace or die. And that really is what is so important about the online file sharing and collaboration space. I presented on the storage implications of consumerization yesterday, where we discussed the online file sharing and collaboration market. I asked the audience a couple of questions:
- How many mobile devices do you have that you are using for business? Most of the audience had at least 4 (only two were with me at 6 or more...we are forming a support group).
- How many of you are using solutions like Dropbox, Box, Egnyte or Sugarsync? Pretty much everyone.
- How many of you are using these without them being IT sanctioned? More than half the audience, and these are IT folks!
That's the thing. Mobile device users are empowering themselves with solutions that allow them to access their one copy of data from any endpoint device and anywhere - they are not waiting for IT to solve the multiple device data access issue. These solutions are already in the enterprise. But the big challenge there, the big danger there, is that when users sign up for these accounts, any data that they store in Box, YouSendIt, or whatever solution they pick goes with them when they leave. Data stays with the account owner, and in a BYOD environment you can't do anything about it! One user I spoke to this week made the point that they wipe everything off of every device when a user leaves, it is part of the contract, but really, how many companies have that type of policy in place? How much will employees stand for it when they use the device for both personal and business use?
If a company sanctions and deploys an online file sharing solution for its employees, the tables are turned, they are in control. If they use something like Syncplicity, YouSendIt, TeamDrive, or many of the other 20 or so vendors now in this space, when someone leaves, they can just wipe the folders. In some solutions they can fully track data flows into and out of the folders (very big brotherish - but there are a variety of solutions on the market to meet the variety of corporate requirements). It is not perfect and there will likely still be security holes, just like there are today. But the thing is, if the company deploys the solution, the data stays with the company. This is really why IT needs to get in front of this issue - if the data stays with the owner of the account, the owner of the account needs to be the business!
You can read Terri's other blog entries at IT Depends.