We haven’t even reached the pinnacle of the cloud yet and we are beginning to hear rumbles within IT teams concerned about security and control. Not to mention uniformed communication methods throughout the organisation. There appears to be somewhat of a tug of war beginning to appear within organisations. It is the responsibility of the IT team to ensure all networks are secure and being used appropriately internally. We only have to look as far as No Jitter to get an idea about the current issues organisations are facing with ‘How Much Slack Is in Your Enterprise?’.
We won’t regurgitate some of the figures being mentioned. The essence of some of the figures were based around the usage of cloud-based solutions, such as Slack, being used internally without anyone really knowing. Costs are picked up by line managers, accounts created by the user and with no downloads the employee can be up and running in no time. Alarm bells have begun to ring within the IT teams. IT teams are losing control of… Well the IT infrastructure within the organisation.
What is the IT team likely to do? They need to make sure the organisation network is secure but also ensure the staff have the tools they require to be efficient in their daily tasks. A compromise needs to be met or the likes of Slack and Hipchat will need to tailor their offering to accommodate the requirement of larger organisations. Now, this is where Slack is currently falling short. Their offering does not tick all of the boxes for the IT team.
For starters, employees can create a private channel where they can discuss almost anything with almost anyone they desire. Slack doesn’t offer the transparency an IT team within an organisation demands. They can’t simply jump in and out of conversations or monitor activity as easily as they could with email or a hosted solution. For some industries this may not be such a big deal. Lets use a travel company for example (it was hard to think of an example where sensitive information is shared and a cloud service wouldn’t fall short on). Conversations between employees are unlikely to hold any sensitive information. Information being relayed within channels is likely to be passing chatter or discussions about specific projects. IT teams are unlikely to be as concerned or affect the business operations as much as a financial company based in the heart of London.
Financial companies are required to meet a certain set of criteria. One is the security of the network. To ensure trespassers can not easily enter the network and obtain sensitive information. This cannot be achieved with a cloud service. We mention Slack, but it could easily include a whole host of solutions such as Dropbox or Evernote. All provide a central area to store documents in the cloud. But why hasn’t this been an issue before?
Cloud services seemed to be something which only a few people would be using. With not such a large uptake, the issue was not noticed. However, the demand of Slack has made IT teams aware of the potential issue.
Now, we aren’t saying cloud solutions are never going to be adopted by organisations or are a bad idea for organisations. They are evidently phenomenal in their capability and the accessibility being provided to the wider audience. We are avid users, here at Drum, of cloud solutions and they are great. But for the much larger organisation, they prove a real headache to the IT team and overcoming the strict rules of security.
How do these organisations work to overcome these issues and provide their workforce with the solutions to help drive efficiency?
So this brings us back round in a full circle to a hosted solution on premise. At present, the only true way of providing these mind boggling solutions is to host them internally on local servers. This may bring a selection of new issues such as management of the product and product updates as well as hiring additional members of the team to be hand for any requests. However, it delivers the security and control to the IT team once more. This, to a certain extent, completely eradicates the benefit of placing everything up in the cloud. Surely it just identifies a potential floor in working directly from an external cloud. Organisations will begin to create their own cloud, possibly naming it the fog (a local and on premise cloud).
Something for the future? For sure. Maybe in the next 18-24 months we will see the larger organisations looking to build their own internal fog. However, the cloud is still such a vital piece of the puzzle for smaller organisations. The low investment on time and money means cloud based solutions such as Slack and Drum are only becoming more and more valuable. It simply means, a different type of offering is required for the enterprise in terms of deployment but not functionality. Why not head over to the Wall Street Journal and see what they thought of the ‘fog’ in 2014.