Personal Clouds Are Casting Their Shadows over Enterprise IT

Businesses are facing new IT management challenges as employees embrace cloud services that span across their personal and work lives, according to Gartner.

Folks are turning to the cloud to organize their lives, accomplish tasks and help maintain a healthy work-life balance. Increasingly, those personal cloud services are punching the clock, presenting some new challenges for businesses, according to Gartner, a technology research firm.

Fifty-percent of IT organizations will wind up supporting personal cloud assets and services beyond their core set of business applications and services by 2018, Gartner predicts in the company's latest report, The Evolving Role of the Personal Cloud in the Digital Workplace. It's a necessary step in reducing friction between consumer and enterprise technology experiences. And unlike the slow-and-steady approach business technology vendors typically subscribe to, personal clouds can be comparatively turbulent.

Gartner research vice president Stephen Kleynhans described the personal cloud as a "collection of content, services and tools that users assemble to fulfill their personal digital lifestyle needs across any device," in a statement. "Each user's personal cloud is unique and evolving, as the user's daily needs change and as vendors and products come and go."

Two trends are shaping the personal cloud experience, Gartner asserts. Specifically, increased access to personal data and the application of intelligence and analytics technologies to that information.

"The rate of change is accelerating as new technologies like Windows 10, ubiquitous sensors, wearables and smart machines alter the landscape and further blur the lines between consumer and enterprise computing," Kleynhans continued. Consequently, enterprises are starting to pay heed and take action.

"By 2018, 25 percent of large organizations will have an explicit strategy to make their corporate computing environment similar to a consumer computing experience," Kleynhans stated.

Organizations will need to pay particular attention to virtual private assistants (VPAs) like Siri, Cortana and Google Now. "VPAs often have access to not only personal data, but also potentially sensitive corporate data as information about meetings, employee travel and business operations may be exposed to the VPA," Gartner stated. "Some organizations will be tempted to block use or VPA access to organization data. However, this will reduce a VPA's effectiveness and simply encourage employees to bypass IT controls."

Wearables and Internet of Things (IoT) technologies will open up another front in the never-ending battle to keep corporate data safe. Gartner said the flood of real-time data produced by these technologies "further blurs the line between what is work and what is personal, and it is exacerbating the security and privacy issues for both users and enterprises."

To head off those dangers, strong authentication should be at the top of a CIO's priorities. "While strong authentication technologies are only the first step toward longer-term approaches to securing both user and corporate data, they do form an important initial step in the chain," said Gartner.

Pedro Hernandez is a contributing editor at Datamation. Follow him on Twitter @ecoINSITE.

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.

Tags: cloud security

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