[PHOTO: Wikimedia Commons: http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Maze_Type_Standard.png]
The consumerization of IT has turned into quite the headache for the admins tasked with tracking company data and security — from keeping track of where employees are storing files, to how they are sharing and accessing them.
Want a window into the scale and scope of the situation? A new Osterman Research survey of 250 IT managers and CIOs, sponsored and distributed by Hightail, shows that 73% of businesses use more than one cloud service per day. And only 19% of the professionals polled said they were satisfied with their file-storage model at present. Something here has clearly gone wrong.
Because user options are on the rise — the so-called "storage wars" are underway in terms of file- and cloud-services options — IT departments are dealing with an increasingly varied and sometimes hard-to-harness environment.
Let's look at the ideas the experts told Osterman they are focused on, and consider what can be done to clear away some of the fallout from the ongoing explosion of business-consumer choices.
Solutions and Security in the Cloud
Here's how file storage in cloud settings often works: businesses move their materials to third-party data centers. That's not a scenario that makes many IT departments happy, primarily because they're concerned about how secure those options will turn out to be. How concerned are they? Some 62% of the survey respondents said that security is the key concern when it comes to cloud implementation at their companies.
Other reasons that IT administrators aren't happy with third-party scenarios?
- 38% cited difficulty in obtaining secure and easy mobile-device linkage to cloud services.
- 31% indicated that cloud services, as provided, are failing to work intuitively for users.
All of this tells us that IT departments are identifying pain points, both ones that they see and ones that their users report.
If there's an upside within the storage-war milieu, it's that companies are responding by offering products focused on file storage behind in-house firewalls that are accessed by an internally controlled cloud interface. The future will tell if this blended scenario solves some of the key problems.
The Bigger Picture: Inside and Outside Storage Landscapes
It's not just IT admins and their concerns about third-party cloud security that's at issue. Businesses are also facing what look like genuinely counterproductive effects when it comes to what their tech departments are observing, and these can be in-house related. Here's what the survey shows:
- 73% of employees store their files in local servers.
- 44% put them on their work station desktop.
- 39% keep them in their e-mail apps.
The results of this kind of protocol (or lack thereof?): Some 89% of employees spend at least 30 minutes daily searching for files and nearly 1/3 of the businesses said they had lost important files because they couldn't find them.
Whatever the solution, internal or external storage, or a blend that exploits the security of the firewall and the access flexibility of cloud interface — it's clear that IT still has a mountain to climb. Admins have to get users to rethink the ways they organize and tap into their documents. And tech teams can't get businesses there alone. For IT, the challenge is still an essentially human equation.