Is Bring-Your-Own-Cloud a Good Idea?

Pablo Valerio, International Business & IT Consultant | 6/12/2012 | 15 comments

Pablo Valerio
I am seriously concerned by the news about RIM. The company that brought us email in our pockets more than a decade ago is now on the verge of deep financial trouble, with a sellout or possible bankrupt protection. Also, their agreements with several foreign governments to host the messaging services in their countries -- to allow security and intelligence agencies to access the BlackBerry-encrypted communications -- cast serious doubts about the integrity of their servers.

It is hard to imagine how many cloud services we use everyday without our knowledge and control. Every time we use a BlackBerry phone -- still the preferred device for business users -- our messages (emails, texts, images) are delivered by the RIM servers, going out of our corporate control and being stored and encrypted, in the RIM cloud.

Similar issues arise when we use services such as Google Apps, Microsoft 365, Apple Me, etc.

Many companies are now allowing their employees to bring their own devices to work or to use them to access their email and other data from their homes. The BYOD revolution is here to stay. But what about bring-your-own-cloud (BYOC)? As mentioned, when a user fires up his BlackBerry, iPhone, or Android smartphone to send and receive email, most of the time the messages go through cloud servers outside their organization without IT control.

Another issue is temporary storage. Google Drive is now out there offering free cloud storage to anyone with a Google account, including Google Apps users. And then there are Amazon Cloud and Dropbox services, all offering an easy-to-use, instant cloud storage for the convenience of Internet users. For many corporate users, it is easy to sign up for one of those services and upload their work files to the cloud so they access them anywhere. The temptation to bypass IT and jump into the convenience of a popular service is too big to resist.

But some companies are beginning to react to this trend. Recently, IBM announced that it is banning employees from using some of the popular cloud services such as Dropbox, Apple's iCloud, and Google Drive. IBM's CIO Jeanette Horan told Technology Review that the BYOD policy is not saving IBM any money. Instead, "it has created new challenges, because employees' devices are full of software that IBM doesn't control."

"We found a tremendous lack of awareness as to what constitutes a risk," Horan said. So now, she says, "we're trying to make people aware."

For most organizations, BYOD is now to stay, and can be tolerated, but BYOC is another issue. If a provider such as RIM gets in real trouble, goes down, and leaves data exposed, it could bring a lot of damage to any organization using BlackBerrys, apart from the interruption of the service.

There is no such thing as being overly careful with the cloud, and IT should be aware of the cloud services that employees are using for any corporate data, establishing clear guidelines.

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batye   Is Bring-Your-Own-Cloud a Good Idea?   7/2/2012 10:08:26 PM
Re: Is Bring-Your-Own-Cloud a Good Idea?
could not agree more, as this days cloud technology developing and security should not be taken for granted....
PamR   Is Bring-Your-Own-Cloud a Good Idea?   6/29/2012 7:19:00 PM
Re: How to approach?
Agreed--how in the world could you draw a line? A better solution would be to separate work and private life. I think businesses are so greedy that they're willing to risk security for getting more work out of people.
singlemud   Is Bring-Your-Own-Cloud a Good Idea?   6/25/2012 10:41:18 PM
Re: Is Bring-Your-Own-Cloud a Good Idea?
It depends on the industry. For most company which has propriety software or data which is very valuable are reductant to use outside cloud. People can store these data or source code on these clouds which could means giving away these valuable assets.
impactnow   Is Bring-Your-Own-Cloud a Good Idea?   6/17/2012 12:32:08 AM
Re: ByOC
Yasantha can you clarify on why this would cause companies to go bankrupt?
yasantha   Is Bring-Your-Own-Cloud a Good Idea?   6/14/2012 12:05:42 PM
Re: ByOC
No. We should not bring our own clould has this will get  IBM and some / companys to bankrupt.
impactnow   Is Bring-Your-Own-Cloud a Good Idea?   6/13/2012 5:28:27 PM
ByOC

 

While I clearly see the risk is it any different from someone storing company files on a flash drive and bringing them with them on a trip. The cloud might be safer because it's not as vulnerable to loss.

sohaibmasood   Is Bring-Your-Own-Cloud a Good Idea?   6/13/2012 3:30:02 AM
Re: Secure...
Pablo, does that mean employees will now have to draw a line in between their official use and personal use of the corporate assets? 
Henrisha   Is Bring-Your-Own-Cloud a Good Idea?   6/13/2012 2:18:28 AM
Re: How to approach?
Interesting. I didn't really know how to approach the situation in this way. Thanks for sharing how IBM does it, Pablo.
Henrisha   Is Bring-Your-Own-Cloud a Good Idea?   6/13/2012 2:17:19 AM
Re: BYOC
Kicheko, your insight is interesting and I'd have to agree. It's hard to keep working if you can't bring your work with you when you have to leave the office. I think one point of BYOD is to make working more convenient and to help employees become more productive. At a certain degree, stuff like BYOC comes into play, and you have to wonder if it's still aligned to your company's goals and policies to actually have it as well.
Damian Romano   Is Bring-Your-Own-Cloud a Good Idea?   6/12/2012 1:33:43 PM
Re: Secure...
@Pablo - Very true, didn't even consider that aspect. And that leads to quite the quagmire for InfoSec groups when creating their policies.
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