From the Blogosphere
The Problem with Consumer Cloud Services...
…is that they're consumer cloud services
By: Lori MacVittie
Sep. 29, 2012 09:00 AM
…is that they're consumer cloud services.
While we're all focused heavily on the challenges of managing BYOD in the enterprise, we should not overlook or understate the impact of consumer-grade services within the enterprise. Just as employees bring their own devices to the table, so too do they bring a smattering of consumer-grade "cloud" services to the enterprise.
Such services are generally woefully inappropriate for enterprise use. They are focused on serving a single consumer, with authentication and authorization models that support that focus. There are no roles, generally no group membership, and there's certainly no oversight from some mediating authority other than the service provider.
This is problematic for enterprises as it eliminates the ability to manage access for large groups of people, to ensure authority to access based on employee role and status, and provides no means of integration with existing ID management systems.
Integrating consumer-oriented cloud services into enterprise workflows and systems is a Sisyphean task. Cloud-services replicating what has traditionally been considered enterprise-class services such as CRM and ERP are designed with the need to integrate. Consumer-oriented services are designed with the notion of integration – with other consumer-grade services, not enterprise systems. They lack even the most rudimentary enterprise-class concepts such as RBAC, group-based policy and managed access.
SaaS supporting what are traditionally enterprise-class concerns such as CRM and e-mail have begun to enable the integration with the enterprise necessary to overcome what is, according to survey conducted by CloudConnect and Everest Group, the number two inhibitor of cloud adoption amongst respondents.
The lack of integration points into consumer-grade services is problematic for both IT – and the service provider. For the enterprise, there is a need to integrate, to control the processes associated with, consumer-grade cloud services. As with many SaaS solutions, the ability to collaborate with data-center hosted services as a means to integrate with existing identity and access control services is paramount to assuaging the concerns that currently exist given the more lax approach to access and identity in consumer-grade services.
Integration capabilities – APIs – that enable enterprises to integrate even rudimentary control over access is a must for consumer-grade SaaS looking to find a path into the enterprise. Not only is it a path to monetization (enterprise organizations are a far more consistent source of revenue than are ads or income derived from the sale of personal data) but it also provides the opportunity to overcome the stigma associated with consumer-grade services that have already resulted in "bans" on such offerings within large organizations.
There are fundamentally three functions consumer-grade SaaS needs to offer to entice enterprise customers:
While most of the "consumerization" of IT tends to focus on devices, "bring your own services" should also be a very real concern for IT. And if consumer cloud services providers think about it, they'll realize there's a very large market opportunity for them to support the needs of enterprise IT while maintaining their gratis offerings to consumers.
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