Sep 15, 2014

Recently I was reviewing a slide deck that marketing had put together and I was struck by a statistic, which I thought was dubious. The claim was that there were 545 cloud services that were in use in the average enterprise. I thought this was way out of line as I looked at my own use of public cloud services like Twitter and LinkedIn. I thought the number must be less by an order of magnitude, so I went to research this on the web and I verified that the 545 number was wrong.


The correct number is 738 as of 2Q 2014!

This is according to Skyhigh Networks’ recently published “Cloud Adoption & Risk Report”. Unlike surveys on cloud adoption that are done by other analysts, Skyhigh bases their results on actual usage data collected from their customers around the world. The 545 number was from 3Q 2013 and their data shows that the number had increased to 759 in 1Q 2014, but decreased in 2Q 2014 to 738. This decrease they attribute to “ . . . likely the result of IT’s efforts to educate employees on the perils of high-risk cloud services, the consolidation of services in a particular category to lower cost and risk, and greater awareness among employees on the care required when dealing with corporate data.”


Source: Skyhigh Networks Cloud Adoption & Risk Report

The list of the top twenty cloud services that they identified were as follows:


Source: Skyhigh Networks Cloud Adoption & Risk Report

I checked with our Hitachi Data Systems CIO, Rex Carter, to see what his reaction was. Rex did not seem to be as surprised by this as I was. He said the issue is how you define services and users. While there still may be some email accounts using DropBox for personal use, Hitachi Data Systems has implemented HCP Anywhere for secure file synch and share as everyone is educated on the protection of corporate information. We also have a large number of staff with email accounts at Yahoo, Google, MSN and elsewhere. While many enterprises restrict access to many of these outside accounts, HDS has chosen not to, thinking that the usage was mainly personal and not impacting our business operations. We have opted to trust that our employees treat business data as company confidential and are able to manage their work/life balance in a responsible way when it comes to using public cloud services.

While employees may be doing some personal things at work, they are also doing a lot of company work during their personal time. Also some of the use of public cloud services can be applied to making them more informed and productive from the company’s standpoint. So while the number of public cloud services used within the company may be surprising, it is not all bad when used responsibly. Certainly we must continue to educate our employees and monitor usage, but we also need to trust our employees.

Though many enterprises believe that they are not using public cloud services, the fact of life is that your enterprise is already using the public cloud.