Cloud Vendors Need to Give IT Insight Into Users

Box.net CEO: Aaron Levie

Box.net CEO: Aaron Levie. Box introduced enhanced security tools this week. (Photo credit: Robert Scoble)

In a post this week on IT Business Edge, writer Mike Vizard wrote about the growing cloud sprawl ┬áproblem — that is, more and more and cloud services in use inside large enterprise settings. He also covered an HP product designed to give more insight into cloud usage in the organization. While the HP tool certainly sounds intriguing, I would say it’s up to the cloud vendors to provide this insight and not leave it to third parties.

The timing of this post was particularly interesting to me because just this morning, I finished writing a post on FierceContentManagement on new security enhancements in the Box.net product including more detailed reports that give IT pros information about how content is moving in Box services, and a partnership with HP and others to link to other security suites in the organization.

This is a case of the cloud vendor taking responsibility for the kind of information you need as IT pro, and not leaving it to third parties to handle. I quote Box CEO Aaron Levie in the piece. It’s clear that his company is taking this role seriously.

“At Box, our success hinges on easing this shift [to the cloud] for IT administrators. We’re doing this by giving them unprecedented visibility into the movement of information within and beyond their organizations, while enhancing the security of Box content across our application, network and systems, as well as through partnerships with industry leaders,” Levie said.”

In this case, it’s being included as part of the package, not something you add on as you begin to realize you have a cloud management issue. As we see more cloud services, it’s going to be up to the services themselves to make the products more IT friendly.

Levie said that it’s important to give IT pros the tools they need without relinquishing end user ease of use. “The new features, integrations and partnerships add additional layers of security to Box to protect our customers’ data and give IT better visibility into how information is being shared and accessed — but without compromising the intuitive end user experience that sets our solution apart from those it’s displacing,” Levie said.

This seems to be a better approach to managing services in the cloud than trying to plug each one into a central cloud management console unless that’s what you choose to do (in which case the cloud service should have hooks to enable this to happen without too much pain).

Unfortunately, not every cloud service is prepared to help in this fashion, but for those that want to play in the enterprise, it will be increasingly necessary to combine ease of use on the front end with IT management tools on the back end, preferably ones that play nicely with other enterprise software.

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