Cloud-Based File Services Raise Concerns for SMBs, Despite Use

Employees of small and midsized businesses (SMBs) are turning to cloud-based file-sharing services such as Dropbox, and their employers are letting it happen—but not without some significant concerns.

That’s the finding of a new survey by Spiceworks, which offers a social-business platform for IT, and EMC. That survey asked 323 respondents in North America and EMEA (Europe, the Middle East and Africa) about their use of cloud-based file-sharing, email and productivity software.

Some 42 of those respondents used cloud-based email services, with another 6 percent planning to jump from on-premises within the next six months; around 14 percent used cloud-based productivity services, with 6 percent planning to jump within the next six months. Of the three cloud applications, file-sharing took the most with 52 percent of respondents currently relying on a cloud-based platform, and another 9 percent planning to adopt one within the next six months.

“Over half of respondents state they’re using cloud-based file sharing services in their organization today,” read the report, “and there’s a distinct possibility every business has some level of file-sharing activity since employees can bring these services in through the front door.”

Indeed, a third of respondents claimed knowledge of their employees using cloud-based file-sharing services in a work context without approval—while 5 percent seem unsure about what their employees are doing. “IT departments are mixed on how to manage this behavior with 31 percent of companies allowing employees to use any provider they wish,” the report added, “and another 32 percent discouraging the behavior at some level.” North American companies are apparently more likely to have an approved file-sharing vendor.

Although a healthy percentage of respondents allow employees to deploy cloud-based file sharing services, they do so with a paranoid mindset. Among respondents, 73 percent exhibited concern over “lack of control around data/security issues,” followed by 49 percent citing “legal liability/compliance,” 48 percent saying “reliability,” and 36 percent “Management headache.” Only 6 percent remained blissfully unconcerned.

SMBs without much of a budget have joined in the BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) phenomenon, in which employees use their personal devices for work. That blurring of lines between work and personal functions subsequently extended from hardware to software, as those same employees began using services such as Gmail and Box to send and store work and personal files. Of course, that raises security and privacy concerns for any self-respecting IT administrator.

 

Image: Fenton one/Shutterstock.com

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