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Help! My corporate data is on the loose!

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Over the last years, public cloud storage services have gained enormous popularity. The services pop up like mushrooms: companies such as Dropbox, Box.net, SkyDrive, SugerSync, Syncplicity, and many more. It seems that in the public cloud sector, the services are more rapidly picked up than in the corporate world. Most of them are somehow storage related and piggy backing on the success of the Amazon S3 storage cloud.

Last year, supposedly the most popular service, Dropbox, announced that it has more than 45 million users, is saving one billion files every three days, and is still growing rapidly. With its business model of providing some amount of free cloud storage, this is of course all very appealing to users.

I personally have also been using Dropbox for some time now and I have to say I’m hooked! I’m a cross-platform user, so besides my Windows machine that I use for work, I use Ubuntu, OSX, and a bunch of IOS devices. Because Dropbox provides a client for each of those it means that I can have my data anywhere, anytime. I think we can safely say that I’m not alone in this and that a number of people are using one of these services in their everyday life. Meaning, they also use it in their corporate life, and to be honest, so do I to some extent, because it’s very useful. This use is of course terrifying for large corporations.

Companies can secure their desktops in any way they want with encryption, passwords, policies; but as long as the users are able to install applications such as Dropbox, users can copy their corporate data out in the open and outside of corporate control. We don’t have to look far to find multiple examples of, security breaches (in this case, Dropbox: article 1, article 2, article 3). Other services are of course not excluded from this issue. Although these services try to fix the issues as soon as possible in the short time frame that the service is unprotected, hackers have the availability of probably over thousands of very confidential documents, which users have uploaded without realizing the consequences.

Response from the corporate software vendors

The corporate software vendors are jumping into this issue. Trying to solve this issue, some vendors have introduced encryption for local files; however, that means a user would still use third-party services but can no longer use third-party applications to get their files. This way is confusing for the user and would still mean that your corporate data is placed somewhere in some data center in the world where you would have absolutely no control over it.

Vendors such as Citrix have now introduced Citrix ShareFile as a sort of corporate Dropbox version. But this service is hosted in the data centers of Citrix, which is probably safer than the public spaces but still outside of your own data center.

VMware has announced VMware Project Octopus, which is a Dropbox-like service for your own data center. But other than a demo at VMworld, not much is known about when this service will be released.

However, all of sudden a few weeks ago, a company named RES Software announced RES HyperDrive, which is exactly what the corporate world has been asking for. It works on all well-known platforms, with integration into office products and sharing between colleagues, and where all data is placed inside your own data center. Safe and secure on-premises, located on your own storage infrastructure – it looks like the solution has beaten the larger vendors to the punch.  Finally, a solution to provide popular new technology to your users without having your data running around in public.

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