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Empty Vaults: When Enterprise Data isn’t on the Network

Bret Fitzgerald

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April 29, 2014 2:56 pm

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Your corporate network is secure and reliable; the problem is that your data isn’t getting there.

Big shifts in the way we work mean less of an organization’s data is getting to the corporate network. What does this mean for the organization? We can tell you: it’s not good.

Mobility is the main culprit. Almost none of us work exclusively at a desk anymore. That means much of our data ends up living in our email inboxes, or on laptops, phones and tablets of all kinds. Yes, file syncing options are readily available, but that doesn’t mean employees use them to sync data to the corporate network. Often employees are using consumer-focused, cloud syncing varieties. This is draining away the contents of the enterprise brain. When data lives in emails, on local devices and in cloud storage, rather than on the corporate network, it creates five big problems:

No backup

Corporate data centers have efficient, regular data backup procedures. If it’s not on the network, you can bet it’s not getting backed up. If something goes wrong with a laptop, or if a critical email attachment gets removed from the email server because of age, the knowledge involved is gone forever.

Intellectual property in danger

For many industries, intellectual property (IP) is worth more than physical property, yet many organizations are putting data in a variety of cloud storage solutions. In general, the risk of data loss increases the more places the data is kept and though some cloud storage providers offer good security, cloud storage raises another serious issue: ownership. Depending on the contract, IP may become property of the cloud provider once it’s on the cloud, as this CIO.com article discusses. This is particularly true for content (such as a customer portal) that an organization and cloud provider build together. The organization may believe it owns the code or concept underlying this portal, but that may not be the case.

Compliance issues

Organizations are often on the hook for tracking access to data or demonstrating that certain file types are retained for specific periods of time. Modern data centers can easily provide this kind of information, but if the data doesn’t make it to the network, compliance becomes impossible.

Lost devices

When data only lives on a single device, it gets lost when the device does. According to a Trend Micro security report, 56 percent of employees very frequently or frequently stored sensitive data on their laptops, smartphones, tablets and other mobile devices. If you’re smart, your devices are encrypted so data doesn’t get into the wrong hands. That doesn’t mean you can get your information back, though. It’s now trapped on an encrypted device in a trashcan somewhere.

Deprovisioning

As long as an organization has a succession plan, it can minimize the disruption from employee turnover. But if data isn’t on the network, that handoff is much harder. If an employee has been using an individual file syncing account or his or her email account for data storage, all of that data vanishes with the employee. If the employee hasn’t synced his or her laptop or tablet to the network, you’ll lose everything when he or she hands in the laptop and the IT department wipes it clean.

Mobility now allows us to work faster and from more locations than ever, and workers have become used to putting data in the cloud or on their devices. Yet there’s a very good reason why organizations started building centralized storage. Information has value, and organizations need to be able to tap into that value. Having all the data on a corporate network is the best way to do that. So no matter how mobile you get, make sure your data gets to the network.

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Categories: Collaboration, Endpoint Management, Expert Views, File & Networking Services, General, Mobility, Novell, PR Blog

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