What to do About Sync’d Online Backup

The CIO needs to get ahead of the business users and offer an equivalent or better solution that not only meets people’s needs but also forms part of the corporate strategy.

It is all about minimizing risks.

The first and greatest risk is that your business’ hard won ISO-27001 security accreditation will be flushed away in an instant. These apps run roughshod over security policies and accreditation.

Some of you are reading this and thinking that it is no different from the issues of USB sticks and external hard disks. That is true but, we as the IT community, have hardly got a real handle on that issue either. The benefit with physical devices is that they eventually end up gathering dust in cupboards. The challenges with “file sync” apps run deeper:

  • Data security: Where is this data going? Is it crossing country borders? Who is storing it? How and when is it being backed up? Who has access to it?

  • Vendor lock-in: Will the vendors exist long term? If they are acquired, who will buy them? If they collapse what happens to the servers with the data?

  • Corporate network loading: If every employee has their entire hard disk sync’d in the cloud what will that do to the network and Internet connection?

  • Costs: If users decide to upgrade to more data, where are the economies of scale? Is the company paying to backup and sync their music and videos?

  • Interoperability: If every user used the same app, would installation, support and upgrades be simpler?

  • Data management: When an employee leaves how do you get control of the data? How do you exploit the file sharing?

So what are the options for a CIO? There are broadly three:

  1. Ban using these apps: Most CIOs are fairly unpopular with the business users so this will drive the wedge further.

  2. Ignore the problem: Not an option and possibly a dereliction of duty. The “I” in CIO does stand for “Information,” after all

  3. Offer a credible option: Review the market and decide on the best approach whether it’s in-house, open source installed in-house or third party solution. Normal IT strategy and vendor evaluation stuff. And then set some policies on how it should be used.

No matter what they do, CIOs need to get on with it. Every day that goes by the problem gets worse and it will be harder and harder to wean users off their favorite cloud if that’s what you want to do.

Ian Gotts is the author of six books including, Common Approach, Uncommon Results; Why Killer Products Don’t Sell; and two Thinking of … books on cloud computing. He is a prolific blogger with a rare ability to make the complex seem simple, which makes him a sought-after and entertaining conference speaker. His book, Thinking of … Offering a Cloud Solution? Ask the Smart Questions, articulates the opportunities and the challenges ISVs face in their transition to the cloud.