Preparing for Bring Your Own Cloud

Bring your own cloud is fast emerging as a challenge that must be addressed. In some ways the challenges of BYOD (bring your own device) are connected to the challenge of bring your own cloud. The adoption of smartphones, tablets and other wireless devices has been accompanied by the rapid growth of customizable applications that run on these devices. One application that emerged in multiple forms is the personal cloud.

Gartner analyst Michael Gartenberg explains that, “IT has to deal not only with bring-your-own devices but bring-your-own services.”[1] Personal cloud takes the shape of services or application on personal devices. “If it’s digital and it’s consumer, it’s going to find its way into the office. People will come up with reasons for using it,” he says.

Applications that provide personal cloud are wide-ranging. iTunes, Amazon and Google all provide personal cloud storage for music. Evernote, Microsoft OneNote, Google Keep, Awesome Note, Note Taker HD, and Springpad all provide a cloud-based note storage system. While the specifics may vary, these devices provide the ability to sync text notes, images, pdfs, audio clips, and other files across multiple devices. At the same, a whole range of easy-to-use cloud storage applications have emerged like DropBox, Box, Google Drive, Amazon Cloud and more.

When staff bring their own devices, bring applications that use some form of a personal cloud. Bring Your Own Cloud is happening simultaneously with Bring Your Own Device. At the same time, employees may turn to personal cloud applications to solve business tasks. The CTO of end-user computing at VMware, Scot Davis, turned to the use of personal cloud services when his own IT couldn’t service his needs fast enough. They suggested that he bring a “bag of USBs” to meet his needs. “That’s when I started using Dropbox,” he says. “IT has competition. People know what’s out there and how to get the job done if IT doesn’t help them.”[2]

Some business leaders began using Evernote as a means for organizing project flow from research to project notes to collaborative efforts. Many did not even consider the possible interference with IT policies and governance. This may work fine in many business settings, but what happens when senior leaders or staff members began throwing sensitive data into notes like financials and more. IT leaders are beginning to ask serious questions about limits to using personal clouds in the workplace.

Bring Your Own Cloud comes with a range of responses. Chris Kemp of InformationWeek suggests that the threat of BYOC outweighs the advantages.[3] He calls it a “shadow IT” and warns that is comes with certain risks. He lists the following implications of a shadow IT:

  • Loss of overall control
  • Inconsistency of systems
  • Increased risk of data loss
  • Greater risk of errors due to non-IT professionals operating infrastructure

On the other hand, Amit Singh, president of the enterprise unit at Google, says, “Clearly, there’s a lot of change coming where IT has to integrate these [personal cloud services] into the current stack and figure out how it will work together.”[4]

Right now there is a bit of confusion where business and personal use intersect and separate. “We’re seeing a transition from two completely separate worlds to a world where there is no line between what’s good for personal and what’s good for business,” says Andrew Sinkov, vice president of marketing at Evernote.

Going forward, IT faces a challenge of examining the emerging “Bring Your Own Cloud” trend, considering management solutions and recommending a way forward.

[1] Robert L. Mitchell. “IT’s New Concern: The Personal Cloud.” Computerworld, May 20, 2013 <http://www.computerworld.com/s/article/9239348/IT_s_new_concern_The_personal_cloud>

[2] Quoted in “IT’s New Concern: The Personal Cloud.”

[3] Chris Kemp. “Will BYOD Become ‘Bring Your Own Cloud.’ InformationWeek, April 1, 2014 <http://www.informationweek.com/cloud/infrastructure-as-a-service/will-byod-become-bring-your-own-cloud/d/d-id/1141602>

[4] Quoted in “IT’s New Concern: The Personal Cloud.”

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