Employees get the cloud, but IT -- not so much

Once again, individuals are ahead of their employers (and IT) in adapting to and exploiting the new technologies

Recently, InfoWorld's Galen Gruman pointed out that cloud storage is beginning to see productive use -- and IT is not having any of it. After all, why let productivity get in the way of preventing an unlikely security threat?

The culprits are Apple's iCloud, Google Docs, Dropbox, Box.net, and any number of cloud storage systems that provide free or cheap file sharing. Company employees quickly find that using one or two of these services is much easier than dealing with internal IT. Indeed, they may be more aware of the benefit of cloud computing than IT is. There are two primary movers of this.

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First, employees are working on projects where they need to share files not just with people in the organization but also with those outside (such as contractors). Cloud storage services such as Dropbox and Google Docs provide the quickest way to solve this problem, and they go beyond simple file-sharing capabilities to provide collaboration capabilities.

Second is the use of multiple devices. Employees want access to their files on their work computer, home computer, iPad, iPhone -- perhaps even game consoles at some point. Cloud storage services do a good job supporting these devices, whereas internal IT either won't or can't support them.

These realities are resulting in a "secret society" of cloud computing users in larger companies who hide their work from IT. They access cloud computing in private to enhance their productivity, which of course helps the company's bottom line.

IT would argue that this causes a security threat. In some instances, IT may be right. However, most of what I see shared can be lost without consequence. The true threat of information loss these days comes mostly from the use of USB thumb drives, not cloud services, as Gruman pointed out. Ironically, many workers are forced to use those thumb drives to get around IT's restrictions on cloud services.

As in the case of most productive uses of new technology, such as the rise of the PC, the rise of the Web, the rise of mobile devices, and now the rise of the cloud, employees will drive ahead first. IT will follow. Call me crazy, but I think it should be the other way around.

This article, "Employees get the cloud, but IT -- not so much," originally appeared at InfoWorld.com. Read more of David Linthicum's Cloud Computing blog and track the latest developments in cloud computing at InfoWorld.com. For the latest business technology news, follow InfoWorld.com on Twitter.

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