IT grapples with personal cloud storage use

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The BYOD trend is driving increased use of personal cloud storage services. Is enterprise IT ready?

Eric Hawley knows he has stiff competition.

The CIO at Utah State University, Hawley says he and his team must serve the university's employees and deliver the tools they need. But he realizes that many of the school's users are finding outside options, installing unsanctioned applications that they find easier to use.

"People always gravitate to the most functional or least-cost solution. And in our 'freemium' world, those things are available by the dozen," he says.

Moreover, CIOs would be hard-pressed to find enterprise options that are as user-friendly as the cloud-based consumer tools, analysts say. On the other hand, they'd be equally challenged to find a consumer service that meets all of the security and auditing requirements that a business demands.

Cormac Foster, an analyst at GigaOM, says technology leaders are developing policies and deploying technologies to help them deal with this world of shadow IT.

They're moving beyond mobile device management and mobile application management systems, which allow IT to control and secure devices and the work applications authorized for use on those devices. Now they're finding ways to sanction cloud-based storage and file-sharing apps. Each approach has benefits and drawbacks.

So, for now, organizations are learning how to balance workers' needs and the enterprise's requirements, Gillett says.

"What we expect to see, but don't see much yet, is a tiered approach to people and information. So instead of the all-or-nothing approach, there's a classification of people and information," Gillett explains. IT might decide it's OK for workers to use cloud-based tools for everyday tasks, but the CFO might place strict limits on employee use of mobile devices and unsanctioned applications, including cloud storage and file-sharing services.

"We're in this awkward period. IT has to figure out how to get people to do the right thing," he says.

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