In his keynote, Steve Jobs described iCloud as a common data storage and synchronization backend. iCloud stores versions of every file the user creates on any device and then synchronizes these files across every device. These devices -- desktops, laptops, smart phones and, of course, tablets -- will all have access to the same data without having to email files or copy them to a memory stick. To quote Steve Jobs, users can expect all of this magic to “just work.”
It's a very appealing vision, and not just to consumers. Enterprise IT has been trying its best to deliver these kinds of services through a hodgepodge of technologies. Unfortunately, the results have typically been cumbersome to use and all too often break, much to the constant displeasure of an increasingly consumer-like corporate user.
IT naturally has very strong objections to enterprise use of these consumer cloud services. Data is not encrypted in the consumer cloud, so, if there is a breach like the one that occurred with Dropbox in June, sensitive information could fall into the wrong hands. Likewise, there are no service level agreements to guarantee data availability. If the VP of marketing can't access a presentation stored in the consumer cloud, there's little IT can do to help.
Unfortunately, consumer cloud storage's revolutionary functionality and ease of use will lead enterprise users to deploy these services, no matter what IT's policy may be. IT would be wise to take a hard look now at how to deliver these new capabilities in an enterprise-grade fashion that magically “just works,” and manages to delight their constituency while maintaining the security and control over data that enterprises require.
Andres Rodriguez is CEO of Nasuni, a company that provides storage data services.