Hot on the heels of the bring-your-own-device (BYOD) trend is this one: bring your own cloud (BYOC).
Sigh. Another market-speaking acronym aimed to promote a new IT product or service? Perhaps, but there is some substance here, not to mention a whole new market. This is because users now have the option to own a personal storage and collaboration cloud outside an enterprise’s, and the idea is starting to gain traction.
BYOC describes individuals who have their own “personal clouds” or corporate employees empowered to use public or private third-party cloud services to perform certain job roles. In the corporate version, BYOC involves the stitching together of enterprise and consumer software, both in the cloud and on premises, to get the job done.
New Products for a New Market
The news hook here is that a group of storage device makers came out this past week with new products that make it possible for an individual to store files in a desktop device the size of a toaster and then access, share, modify or distribute them from any device through a browser at any time. Sound familiar? It’s an enterprise cloud, pared down to its simplest parts.
One of them involves disk drive and storage provider WD, which on Oct. 3 introduced its My Cloud product line. My Cloud units also have a mobile app for iOS and Android that allows users to view photos, stream video and access their files from anywhere on their smartphones or tablets. The mobile app also makes file sharing and collaborating possible, allowing customers to email files, share files as a link, and print and open files with third-party apps.
Additionally, the My Cloud mobile app integrates other public cloud services so that customers can transfer files between their Dropbox, SkyDrive and Google Drive public cloud accounts.
Terabytes of Personal Cloud Storage
In addition, new products from vendors such as Seagate (Seagate Central), Buffalo, LaCie and Synology provide terabytes of data storage with advanced security features and enough power to stream HD content to several devices simultaneously. Whether you’re a small-business owner looking to better manage the growing mass of data being collected or a media junkie who wants access to all the movies, music and media humanly possible, one of these network-attached storage (NAS) devices is sure to do the job.
Make no mistake about it: These items are now selling—and already selling in volume—because they’re all priced at $350 or less.
Why BYOC Trend Comes With a Ready-Made New Market
On the corporate “personal cloud” side, what’s driving the change is the freemium model of delivery. It’s awfully hard to argue with free, even for a surface-level version of an application. What was expensive licensed software is now often available as a low-cost or a software-as-a-service (SaaS) application.
For example, Google and Microsoft offer Web services that provide a cloud storage drive as a native add-on that can be used to store, share and collaborate on documents. Another example is employees using their own personal Box, Dropbox or EMC Mozy account for work. This is common in larger organizations that don’t have the budgets or staff to keep up with changes in IT.
Hard to Argue with ‘Free’
Enterprise-level storage solutions have been available for free or at a nominal cost for several years, and individuals are taking advantage of them.
In order to maintain business continuity and employee collaboration, it’s essential for IT departments to implement both BYOD and cloud solutions that not only offer employees consumer-grade simplicity but also the ability to seamlessly and securely collaborate.
As time moves on, IT departments are going to need to integrate both BYOD and BYOC into their IT strategies, which includes incorporating mobile-device management, conducting security audits, integrating with a central management tool and providing simple solutions.
Through the implementation of employee-friendly BYOD and BYOC strategies, IT managers can position their enterprises to secure a competitive advantage over organizations less prepared for the cloud and personal device-driven workplace.
This whole idea is in response to a world in which business owners and consumers increasingly want access to all their information—wherever they happen to be and using whatever device they happen to have. Because network-attached storage appliances continue to get bigger in capacity, smaller in size, faster, cheaper and more capable of delivering a secure cloud-based storage offering, the genre has done what much of enterprise IT has done over the years: trickle down to the individual user.
We at eWEEK are watching this trend and will be reporting on it often in the coming months.