Apps, Cloud, featured, IT, Mobility

Bring Your Own Cloud (BYOC) Strategies for Medium-Sized Business

6 Mar , 2013  

 Short URL to this post: http://goo.gl/E0kiL

Bring Your Own Cloud (BYOC) is here and will only increase its presence in medium-sized businesses. iPhone users store company information, including files and emails, in their personal iCloud account. Staff utilize Dropbox and Evernote to manage confidential business information, notes and files. We should only expect continued growth of this trend and our best approach is to get ahead of it, not in front it.

What are IT adoption strategies for BYOC? I prefer to be realistic about such trends. IT customers will continue to utilize their own productivity devices, software and the online services they feel will aid them in the work environment, whether it’s sanctioned by the business or not. If IT doesn’t provide them, IT customers will acquire it themselves. If IT attempts to block their use, our customers will just do it anyway. Company policies on these matters aren’t effective because there are no serious consequences for violations, so IT customers use unapproved consumer cloud services anyway.

Business Editions – Finally

Consumer cloud services have taken a page right out of Apple’s “camel’s nose under the tent” playbook: rely on employees to bring consumer cloud services into the enterprise instead of working through the tedious and more stringent IT approval process. But consumer clouds’ success brings with it the message from the business that these services need to add more robust enterprise management, security and user account management capabilities. And many services are beginning to do just that, often in a slow and incremental fashion, but they are making the move towards addressing IT’s needs. Consider the following business-friendly alternatives to consumer cloud services.

Evernote now offers Evernote Business, a hybrid cloud service connecting personal Evernote accounts with shared business notebooks managed by your company. This allows Evernote users within a company to access, modify and manage notebooks controlled by your company, while still maintaining the privacy of users’ personal Evernote notebooks.

Dropbox offers Dropbox for Teams, taking the simplicity of shared folders to the next level. Businesses can create, share and manage access to folders they control, view user activities, control whether company folders can be shared with others outside the company, and enforce two-step user verification.

Box.com and ownCloud are comparable to business versions of Dropbox, while offering much, much more. Box.com is one of the most business friendly and mature file sharing cloud offerings available. Box.com offers passwords and time limits on shared files and folders, activity logging and audit trails, mobile clients, extensive user management, AD and LDAP integration, social collaboration, and a community of application developers significantly expanding upon the Box.com platform.

ownCloud is an open source software, private cloud, internally operated alternative to Dropbox and it possess a significant number of the management capabilities required IT. ownCloud offers content management (including restricting the types of files that can be shared), file versioning, encryption, mobile clients, user management through LDAP and Active Directory, and open APIs. If you haven’t checked out ownCloud, you owe it to yourself to do so.

These are just a few of the medium-sized business friendly cloud service alternatives to consumer cloud offerings. If your IT customers are using services such as Dropbox or Evernote, consider the business edition alternatives we’ve discussed here.

IBMThis post was written as part of the IBM for Midsize Business program, which provides midsize businesses with the tools, expertise and solutions they need to become engines of a smarter planet. I’ve been compensated to contribute to this program, but the opinions expressed in this post are my own and don’t necessarily represent IBM’s positions, strategies or opinions.

 

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Cloud, featured, Games, IT, Mobility

Are you ready for BYOC? – Bring Your Own Cloud

17 Feb , 2013  

Short link to this post: http://goo.gl/q4KGj

A not so subtle undertone of CES 2013 was the expanding presence of the cloud, smartphone and tablet apps that connect consumer products with online user data and services. IT organizations of mid-sized businesses are already familiar with consumer devices, apps and cloud services, including smartphones, tablets, Dropbox, Google apps, SugarSync, Evernote, iCloud, Microsoft SkyDrive and Yammer (to name a few), that utilize online storage and application services. Even though many of these cloud services have little or no corporate IT administration capabilities, services like Google Drive, Evernote and Dropbox are accepted solutions in many small-to-medium sized companies.

More consumer cloud services and devices are headed into the business environment as employees erase the boundaries that separate company approved solutions and technology end users’ use in their connected lives. Health and wellness biometric sensors, wi-fi enabled cameras, audio connected devices, cloud connected cars and trucks, social networking, cloud-based home security monitoring and smart home devices… all types of personal and consumer products represent “connections” end users want to bring with them and access from the workplace.

Consumer technology has shifted from connecting your device to a computer to configure, sync or download data, to registering your device or user account with the accompanying consumer cloud service to perform sync, access data and utilize online services. IT customers bring personal smartphones and tablets into the workplace everyday, expecting to use their consumer devices and accompanying apps as essential productivity and communications tools. This consumer cloud and app bundling is now the norm — Count up the number of apps and online services you use on a weekly or even daily basis. You’ll be surprised at how many cloud services are tied to devices and apps that tag along with you everyday.

All of this represents the next steps beyond BYOD, what I refer to as Bring Your Own Cloud (BYOC). With devices comes apps, and with those apps comes the cloud services they rely upon. Depending on your corporate IT DNA and acceptance of using personal devices connecting in the workplace, BYOC can represent a great opportunity or an even greater challenge to IT’s ability to weave together a suite of productivity tools and applications, while still meeting uptime, interoperability, corporate data protection and security requirements.

What does this trend mean for mid-sized business IT organizations? As IT leaders we must anticipate users wanting, and expecting, to use more consumer devices, apps and cloud services in the work place. We can either embrace the challenge and determine how to best adapt to IT customers use of BYOC, or deny its existence all the while it is happening around us. My approach has always been to figure out how to embrace what IT customers want to do, help find solutions and strategies to make it work, not ways to shoot down their ideas. Don’t be the traditional IT “Land of No”. (See my post IT can’t say No anymore, Learn how to say Yes.)

In my next blog post, we’ll talk about strategies to help you avoid being the IT Land of No in your quest to embrace the challenges of BYOC.

IBMThis post was written as part of the IBM for Midsize Business program, which provides midsize businesses with the tools, expertise and solutions they need to become engines of a smarter planet. I’ve been compensated to contribute to this program, but the opinions expressed in this post are my own and don’t necessarily represent IBM’s positions, strategies or opinions.

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Cloud, featured, IT

IT can’t say No anymore, Learn how to say Yes

11 Aug , 2012  

[REPOST] If you are still from the traditional “IT Land of No”, your IT customers are already going over, under and around you. And they have been for some time. Every No is yet another shovel of dirt thrown on your own effectiveness within the organization. IT customers are bringing their own iPhone and Android smartphones and even computers to work, using file sync services like Dropbox on their company computers, using their credit cards to set up their own shadow IT environments in Amazon or other public cloud services, and more… all to avoid dealing with the IT Land of No.

As engineers, our problem solving training taught us to eliminate all the obstacles, and if your proposed solution still stands once all the possible no’s are eliminated, you likely have a workable solution. The problem with our training? It’s slow, leads to analysis paralysis, and most importantly causes you to automatically say No to your IT customers. At least that’s how they will see it.

While at the Cloud Leadership Forum a few weeks ago, I sat directly across from an IT manager who was a good example of an IT curmudgeon. We were discussing using cloud services to deliver IT as a Service and he kept saying things like, “they’re going to ask for their own virtual machines…No, they can’t have that.” Oh my. We need to undo this programmed behavior and learn how to say Yes.

How do you learn how to say Yes? The simplest approach is often holds the best approach. Start by just saying Yes upfront when an IT customer asks you for something. Literally, say it out loud to them; “Yes.” Don’t drag them through all the No’s to get to the Yes. Alternatively, say something like, “I’ll bet we can find a way to do that”, even if you don’t quite know yet how you’d solve their need or achieve what they’re asking. Next, ask yourself “how can I say yes to their request?” and start down the solution path without verbalizing all the No’s. What wasn’t possible a year ago might just be possible today or maybe you discarded their request out of hand in the past by habitually saying No. It’s simple but taking this approach really does work.

Once you’ve started to break the No habit, get out of the defensive IT position. Start by thinking about and learning how to do what your IT customers want… before they start asking. We’re tech people and there are things we’d like to do at work but haven’t figured out how to do yet. Threatened by BYOD? IT customers are already coming to IT with “how can I…” questions. So start figuring out the uses, apps to use, and requirements like security, remote access and data protection, before they ask you. Be ready with Yes answers because you’ve anticipated the need and gained enough insight how to support it. This is just one example.

Envision the future and start trying it now. And learn to embrace change… even better yet, how to enable and help make change happen. And when the next IT customer comes with their request, start your response with; “Yes, we can figure out how to do that.”

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