Mobile Devices and the Cloud Make Their Presence Felt in Enterprises

It was just a few years ago that “mobile devices” and the “the cloud” were blips on corporate radar screens. Fast forward to today and those blips are fast taking shape as major forces for which enterprises must account. As this occurs, organizations need to re-think the steps they take to control and manage information sprawl going forward.

Everyone pretty much takes it for granted already that information is growing by leaps and bounds every year. Yet the devices that are contributing to this explosive growth and the backend infrastructure that is being used to store this information are changing as much as the types of data that enterprises are capturing and retaining.

One of the largest contributors to data growth now comes from smart phones and tablets that generated at best only minor amounts of data even as recently as a few years. While cell phones have admittedly been a part of the enterprise experience for going on two decades, the amount of data they generated for which organizations had to worry about or manage was at best minimal. Meanwhile the first tablet was only introduced about three (3) years ago.

Now these mobile devices are making serious inroads into enterprises. While they have not by any stretch yet overtaken laptops and desktops as the primary means by which enterprises store information, it is trending that way.

Symantec’s recent State of Information, Digital Information Index, found that tablets and smart phones each now respectively store seven (7) percent of all business data, or together 14% of all business information.

smart phones tablets seven fourteen.JPGFurther compounding the issue, information residing on these mobile devices is perceived as being more susceptible, and in most cases, much more susceptible to cyber risk than other information stored on devices outside of corporate firewalls.

While it should never be assumed than any of the information residing on these devices is 100% secure, it is clear from those who participated in the survey that they considered information on smart phones and tablets much more at risk than information on other devices or data repositories living outside of the firewall.

Less than Somewhat Protected from Cyber Risk
cyber risk.JPG

Interesting to note from this survey is that public cloud storage is still perceived to be almost as risky as information residing on smart phones and tablets. Making this perception somewhat remarkable is that this survey also found that 11 percent of global business information is already stored in public clouds.

This suggests that in spite of the concerns that enterprises have about storing their information in public clouds, other forces such as cost restraints, the growing amount of data coming in from mobile devices or just too much data in general are pushing them to put data into public clouds despite whatever reservations they may have about doing so.

The fact that 78% of the 4,506 organizations across 36 countries contacted in Symantec’s 2011 State of Cloud survey indicated they are actively discussing “cloud” would seem to confirm that the risks of public clouds are not about to slow their adoption any time soon.

Mobile devices and the cloud are making their presence felt on enterprise organizations despite the risks that these solutions still are perceived to present. It also is safe to say that neither one is going away any time soon as mobile devices – maybe more so than any other set of applications or devices in the enterprise – will help companies into the cloud as the preferred solution to access and store the data that smart phones and tablets create.

This puts the onus on organizations to identify and select solutions that appropriately classify information so it can be appropriately protected. Granted, neither mobile devices nor the cloud may ever be perceived as 100% secure. However the sooner organizations recognize that these solutions are about to become a permanent part of the information management equation, the sooner they can put in place solutions that account for their existence in the enterprise and manage the data that they capture and store.

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