Sharing Content in the Cloud

Content Sharing in the Cloud Liberates Team Workers

Friday, August 02, 2013 | Kerry Butters

It’s no surprise to those in the IT industry that recent research has revealed the enterprise shift to the cloud to be inevitable. 41% of respondents to a survey carried out by AIIM said that they expect cloud will "become the de-facto deployment” over the next 3 years, with many choosing document management and CMS to be in the cloud as a matter of choice within that time.

The most likely reason for the move to the cloud is to enable collaboration outside of the company firewall, as this is simple and convenient. It’s also thought that the improved use of mobile in the enterprise is what many businesses will look at next.

When it comes to consumer-based file-sharing in the cloud , only 11% have a policy that forbids its use, with 45% limiting its use and 17% allowing it, if its beneficial to a specific project. A healthy 64% say that they want to use cloud for collaboration, both within the business and at remote sites, but as yet just 15% are doing so with customers.

32% say that they feel the cloud will impact heavily on IT staffing, with infrastructure and server specialists being the hardest hit. It’s thought that demand for IT security specialists will increase.

Content sharing sets workers free

When it comes to the content sharing, this is reported to be the most useful application in cloud, especially with regard to specific projects and project teams. This is because cloud tends to "set them free” as it’s simpler, allows for experimentation and is quick to deploy.

File sharing now accounts for the biggest chunk of cloud services used by enterprises, at just over 25%, with email coming in behind in second place with just over 20%. Almost 40% of those asked said that they don’t use cloud services at all.

This indicates that there is still plenty of room for growth in the SaaS market and it seems that many company’s worries surrounding security in the cloud are unfounded. The report identified just 4% of respondents that have experienced any form of data breach, with 26% reporting "minor incidents” and the majority at 70% experiencing no security problems at all.

However, 42% still said that they feel content and applications to be more in danger of security breaches when it’s hosted in the cloud.

Security for vendors needs addressing

The figures show that whilst there seems little to worry about when it comes to security, companies still have little confidence in the security of the cloud and SaaS in particular. A recent Gartner report  said that this was due to a lack of assurances being made at contractual level.

In order to address this, it’s necessary for cloud vendors to give written assurances concerning security and allow customers access to reports and audit results. This would increase confidence in the industry and may drive more firms to begin using SaaS solutions.

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The use of cloud collaboration

When it comes to where in the business firms would like to use cloud collaboration, which is the main driver for cloud right now, there wasn’t much between the figures, with the top use being within the business.

Also popular was the ability to share files and collaborate across offices in different locations and further to that, many firms want to (or already do) use cloud to collaborate with partners and customers. However, the report points out that the use of business-grade applications to enable this is essential.

This means that enterprises really need to be looking at removing consumer cloud applications from the workplace, wherever possible, such as solutions like Dropbox, Skype and so on. This is especially true of the latter, as video collaboration over unsecured applications pose a security risk to the enterprise.

Recent technological developments have enabled enterprises to securely include their remote and mobile workers, partners and suppliers in their video collaboration deployment even when they are using consumer grade collaboration tools such as Skype.

SaaS solutions have been used in enterprises for the past ten years, so they are certainly nothing new. However, in order to make the most of modern SaaS solutions, it’s necessary that the enterprise recognises the need and uses appropriate, business-level services in order to protect data.

With regard to how effective collaboration in the cloud is, it’s already a proven model as many businesses have found that it significantly increases productivity , further cutting business costs. Whilst security is seen by some as a reason not to use the cloud, this is for the most part unfounded. However, it’s the responsibility of vendors to ensure that they offer enough assurances at a contractual level in order to further drive adoption.

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