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Let’s Be Frenemies: Playing Nice in the Cloud

With one experience to access, manage and control the content, we can learn to love and trust our relationship with the cloud

Slide Deck from Marc Olesen's Cloud Expo Presentation: Why the Cloud Is the Frenemy of the Mobile Enterprise

I first heard the word "frenemy" a few years ago from my teenage daughter describing one of her classmates. She really liked this girl, but there were things about her she didn't quite trust - like she couldn't be counted on as someone who "had her back." Off to the Urban Dictionary I went, as was the new norm if I wanted to more fully relate to my teenagers. Thanks to my daughter, today I've found a great use for this word that can help others come to terms with certain fast-paced technology. For me, the Cloud is like my daughter's nice, but not-so-trustworthy friend. The cloud is our frenemy.

The cloud is our frenemy because we struggle with the stability of the relationship. Consumers have never felt so powerful since the advent of smartphones and tools that enable them to download, upload and share music, videos, and photos. When this phenomenon first caught on, most consumers didn't even realize they were using the cloud - or what was behind the technology. They just knew they were more productive and more fulfilled.

As employees, these same consumers have anytime, anywhere access to files and a variety of cloud-based tools developed to make doing business even easier. Working with the frenemy enables employees to collaborate more effectively across multiple devices and locations - accessing their entire desktop from the cloud, and storing business documents in this single convenient location. It was the beginning of a beautiful relationship.

Enterprises were not as easy to win over. While organizations loved benefiting from ten times the productivity- and money-savings, they hated the risk. A risk that translates into data breaches that affected over 40 percent of all enterprises last year. Even IT understands the benefits of scalable access from anywhere and any device, but these professionals also know that any data shared through the cloud is susceptible to risk because it's surrendered to a third party.

But, make no mistake, if IT blocks file-sharing via the cloud, employees will find a workaround. In fact, thirty-percent of employees use file-sharing apps like Dropbox or Google Docs to share confidential information without receiving permission from their employer. This behavior is being scrutinized even more now due to the recent events around NSA secretly siphoning data from cloud providers. Organizations must again reexamine security and privacy in the cloud.

It is possible to love thy enemy. It's possible and critical since employees will never stop using the cloud and business can't help but be enticed by the economic benefits of using it. First, organizations must take stock of what repositories they are using. Where are your employees putting sensitive content? Do you have more than one content repository? Then, when you are confident about where that content is being stored, you must classify it based on sensitivity level. This classification will help determine where to house it: if it's highly sensitive content it stays on premises and if it's less sensitive it can move to the cloud.

From a mobility management standpoint, the key is to evaluate solutions that:

  • Use existing storage
  • Support both on-prem and cloud storage
  • Do not copy or store content
  • Have a secure content container
  • Enable granular policies by user, device and document
  • Does not require VPN or firewall changes

With one experience to access, manage and control the content, we can learn to love and trust our relationship with the cloud - especially when it's got our back and is really protecting our content. The cloud is the frenemy no more.

More Stories By Marc Olesen

Marc has over 20 years of professional experience in business software and cloud-based solutions with a passion for and a focus on organizational leadership, business management, and customer success. Before joining Averail, Marc was SVP & GM at McAfee, responsible for leading over 700 people in the Network, Content and Cloud Security business unit. In this role, Marc led the worldwide growth strategy and drove unified operations for engineering, marketing and sales. Prior to McAfee, Marc was VP of the Software-as-a-Service unit at Mercury Interactive and continued to lead that business following its acquisition by HP. Marc’s experience also spans large and small tech companies including DNAnexus, Qwest CyberSolutions, BearingPoint, Remedy and Oracle. Marc is a graduate of Stanford University with an AB degree in Economics and MS degree in Industrial Engineering.

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