Cheat sheet

Cheat sheet: A fast guide to cloud collaboration

Cloud collaboration has become a standard tool in many workers' kits, but it brings lots of questions for IT to consider. Do you allow workers to use any cloud storage service they want, pick certain ones or outlaw it entirely? Is it better to use a third-party service, an on-premises one or some mixture of the two?

This cloud collaboration cheat sheet will boil those questions and more down to the basics of the major concerns for IT administrators dealing with the cloud.

Familiarize yourself with the terms. Cloud collaboration is an ever-changing technology, so it's important to keep up with what certain terms and definitions mean. Don't know what SoMoClo is? Start with a primer on cloud definitions.

Choose the right approach. It's not always realistic to ban cloud use outright, but each company has to pick an approach to the cloud that works for its users' specific needs. Decide which apps and services you can send to the cloud -- good examples are email and document storage -- and which ones should stay on-premises.

Check out all your options. There are tons of cloud services out there with different packages and varying features. Some are consumer-facing and others are geared toward the enterprise. Some are free, others are paid, and still more follow the "freemium" model. Look into each service and see if there's a free trial, then make a decision about which product and features you and your users need.

More on cloud collaboration

How cloud storage and collaboration are changing email

Making cloud productivity apps work in the enterprise

Where business file sharing meets email

Know the dangers. The consumer cloud can be helpful for workers, but it can pose some serious risks to the integrity of corporate data. If your company has top-secret info that shouldn't see the light of day, consider whether the risk is worth the reward. And know that even if you offer a sanctioned cloud service, one might not be users' weapon of choice, which means corporate data could still end up in an unapproved cloud storage service.

Consider data loss prevention options. Data can leak from the cloud in lots of ways. Sometimes an employee accidentally -- or maliciously -- overshares a document, and some cloud providers' security measures have failed in the past. Because of this, it's important to have some data loss prevention strategies in place, such as digital tags and employee education.

But don't be afraid. The cloud is just a service the same way email is. If you're nervous about employees storing corporate data in the public cloud, look into some on-premises products from vendors such as Citrix, VMware, WatchDox, RES Software, Nomadesk, GroupLogic and Novell.

Now that you're up to speed on all the details about employees' cloud use, take our quiz and show us your stuff.


This was first published in January 2014

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