As a VAR, MSP, cloud broker/service provider (or whatever new term your channel company goes by), you’re probably well aware that your customers are using various unauthorized cloud services. With the consumerization of IT comes the downloading of ‘freemium’ cloud offerings. Have a file you need to send to a prospect, client, or partner right away, but it’s too big for email? Put it in whatever free cloud service you use at home, give the recipient access to the folder, and problem solved.
After reading the 2013 Cloud Adoption & Risk Report put out by Skyhigh Networks, which was based on data from more than 3 million enterprise users, I wasn’t surprised to discover that the above scenario is a reality for just about every business. What I was surprised to find out is that according to the study the average enterprise uses 19 different file sharing and collaboration services. Not 1.9, but 19! Even if your customers aren’t in highly regulated industries such as banking, finance, healthcare, or legal services this raises a couple of obvious concerns:
What kind of files/data are being stored in unauthorized cloud data centers? Not only is there a good chance that the passwords being used to protect company data aren’t adequate, and they’re not being updated on a regular basis, but how does the business owner ensure that data doesn’t leave the organization if an employee using the cloud service leaves the company?
Misuse of the cloud creates data silos. One of the problems the cloud is supposed to solve for your customers is the problem of data silos. By centralizing applications and servers in a single (or at least unified) cloud platform, this type of collaboration can be achieved. Using multiple cloud platforms takes away this benefit and creates chaos. As Kamal Shah, VP of products and marketing at Skyhigh Networks says in his latest blog, A New Business Case for “Why IT Matters” in the Cloud Era:
Consider a cross-functional team tasked with working on Project Launchpad. At the kick-off meeting, they agree to use a file sharing site for the project. The marketing team recommends DropBox, the engineering team recommends Hightail, the customer service team recommends Box, the finance team recommends Egnyte, and so on. Now add multiple projects and keep track of which projects are in which file sharing service and you can see what a problem it becomes for the individual and the organization as a whole.
So, if you find yourself running up against objections to the price of your enterprise-class cloud offering compared with the freemium cloud platforms your prospective client is probably already using, it’s best to just concede with them on that point and then tactfully turn the conversation toward all the ways that standardizing on one platform offers enough business benefits that not even 19 cloud silos can compete with.