It’s hard to argue the impact the cloud has had on IT and business over the past decade. It’s made the world smaller by making collaboration easier. The consumer cloud file sharing services that have made our personal lives easier – Dropbox, Google Drive, iCloud, Microsoft OneDrive, etc. – are now rampant within enterprise IT organisations. This first generation of cloud file sharing flourished because it followed the famous Apple mantra: “it just works.” Simple, functional user interfaces made it easy for end-users to understand and use. People got used to that ease-of-use in their personal lives and soon demanded the same of their enterprise file sharing. At the same time, this model requires almost no maintenance – it’s often an easy plug-and-play solution that enables fast, cheap collaboration.
But this public cloud model has always had a very big, very obvious problem. In an era of cyber-warfare, data breaches, hacking and concerns over government access, user data stored in a centralised cloud infrastructure can lead to serious privacy and security problems – both real and perceived. Whether it’s Dropbox passwords being exposed en masse, iCloud or Sony hacks of sensitive photos and emails or the NSA demanding (and getting) access to information stored on public cloud servers, these solutions simply didn’t have the enterprise-class security needed to ensure ownership and control of data.