A step closer to cleaning up the mobile cloud mess

Cloud storage services are great, but in mobile they suffer from a double whammy of separation and inconsistent support

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DataNow is a good move toward what's needed to simplify cloud-based storage access, but it's not enough. It definitely requires an assured ability to open files in a compatible app even if DataNow doesn't understand the format, as well as a more intuitive UI.

But DataNow would be a lot more useful if it could serve as a central access point for your mobile device's apps. If developers could add a hook in their apps to DataNow for use in accessing files linked to DataNow, their apps could work just like desktop programs do with cloud storage services' virtual disks: All such disks' cloud files are accessible in the desktop's Open dialog boxes. This would also relieve the burden on mobile app developers to support multiple cloud services, making DataNow a common conduit to everyone's benefit.

Support for SharePoint would be a real boon to corporate users, given that project sharing system's popularity. (Microsoft's lack of support for SharePoint outside Windows and Windows Phone is causing many users to abandon SharePoint as a proprietary file trap incompatible with the iOS and, increasingly, Android devices that employees commonly use outside the office.) Plus, iCloud support would be very useful for iOS and OS X users.

The other piece missing in DataNow is the ability to support multiple accounts for Dropbox and SkyDrive -- neither users nor IT want to rely on one account for both personal and business files. It does support multiple accounts for DropDAV, FTP, and Google Drive, so the one-account limit with Dropbox and SkyDrive may have more to do with licensing issues.

AppSense would be smart to consider leveraging DataNow not just as a content management tool -- its basic purpose -- but a cloud-integration platform. Its APIs could then be licensed to developers and the personal version could be sold to OS X and Windows clients, in addition to its free iOS and Android clients. There's much more potential here than satisfying enterprise's document control desires.

It remains to be seen whether DataNow evolves to deliver the integrated cloud storage future that provides multi-account flexibility, greater support of corporate storage services, and simplified document access on any mainstream device. At least it's going down the right road, and if AppSense doesn't take it the whole distance, there's now a model for someone else to try.

Almost everything else on the market perpetuates wasteful mobile/desktop separation and/or rigidly confined ecosystems -- neither of which should be accepted.

This article, "A step closer to cleaning up the mobile cloud mess," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Read more of Galen Gruman's Mobile Edge blog and follow the latest developments in mobile technology at InfoWorld.com. Follow Galen's mobile musings on Twitter at MobileGalen. For the latest business technology news, follow InfoWorld.com on Twitter.

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