One of the side effects of the consumerization of IT is that some end customers are feeling more empowered than ever to take IT matters into their own hands rather than seeking the help of IT service providers. This is especially true when it comes to cloud services, where business owners can self-install a cloud backup product, complete with 5 GB or more of free cloud storage, and have an instant freemium “disaster recovery solution” in place in minutes. Even if business owners aren’t actively involved in promoting DIY cloud services, research shows their employees are. A study from Skyhigh Networks, which monitors the use of cloud services for businesses, found that the average enterprise uses 545 cloud services, which is approximately 500 more than the average CIO is aware of!
As an IT service provider, the DIY consumer cloud presents an interesting two-fold challenge. On the one hand, the prospect you’re talking to may not even be aware of any unauthorized cloud installs at their company. And, if they happen to be “pro consumer IT,” you need to carefully educate them while avoiding the possibility of insulting them.
Sharing real-world anecdotes and examples is one way to get customers to see the downside of consumer cloud services. Here’s one example that the president of a professional services organization shared with me recently that you can use. Six employees within the company shared a freemium consumer cloud account where they regularly collaborated on spreadsheets, stored marketing materials and other important company documents. Each employee had full read-write privileges.
Last week one of the executives opened an email attachment claiming to be a UPS delivery notification regarding something he ordered online. Unfortunately, the attachment contained an executable file that launched the insidious CryptoLocker virus. In addition to encrypting every important file on the executive’s laptop, it encrypted his shared cloud folder, including all 200-plus files within the folder.
Making matters worse, the consumer cloud application detected the file changes and updated them to the cloud, which in turn updated all the computers linked to the shared cloud account. After wasting several hours before realizing there was no way to fix the problem, the president of the company logged into the cloud account and researched how to perform a rollback on the cloud files. Luckily, the consumer cloud provider did maintain multiple versions of each file, but there was one small caveat — each file had to be individually rolled back to the previous state.
When all was said and done, the company using the “free” cloud service lost more than 15 hours of time among its employees after accounting for downtime, time spent trying to fix the problem, and the various workarounds used while waiting for the files to be restored. The lost revenue from the incident would have easily paid for more than three years’ worth of enterprise-class cloud backup services under the care of a managed services provider.