What does Apple iCloud mean to users and vendors ?

Lauren Carlson recently published an interesting post entitled “Can the Apple iCloud Make it Rain in the Enterprise”. The premise of the post was to explore whether iCloud has a future in the Enterprise as well as for the consumer market.

Our own view on this is that the requirements for small business users, never mind Enterprise, far outstrip what most storage vendors build into their products. Our own Cloud File Server offering has educated us regarding what some of these features and functions are. Let me outline just a few:

User Management – sounds easy right ? Not so easy when you throw in managing also file and directory permission

Ubiquitous Access – Users want to be able to access their data over standard API’s such as WebDav and FTP and also from heterogeneous operating systems using integration and tools that also support the other features they want such as the user permission we talked about earlier. They want desktop drives, support on all mobile devices, support on a plethora of Operating Systems. They want what their business demands and they are all different…..

Groups / Shared Directories: Shared directory structures and the ability to manage groups at a granular level is another ‘must’

Encryption’: Managed encryption of data from the file store to the device is also one of the things many users request.

On premise solution: Many customers want an appliance as they want to use local data as well as public clouds. It’s hard to see a time when absolutely all data will be managed in the Cloud and we see many customers who want a best of breed combination of both. It’s unlikely that Apple would make iCloud available as a server-side solution.

Other Data Clouds: As per our recent InfoGraphic we see must of our business customers and even single knowledge workers do not use only one cloud. They use best of breed public clouds combined with private storage clouds and want ease of use and access to manage these in one file system.

– Best of Breed Integrations: Apple is likely to integrate with everything they provide, the same way that Google does with its product set and Microsoft does with its own product set. This is fine if you only ever want to use these products, but what if you  want to mix and match or have your data integrate with other best of breed solutions ?

We could go on and on I guess. We don’t see anyone vendor becoming dominant. The world is quite big enough for all of them to co-exist and we will support iCloud and continue to broker between them all and provide innovative additional services, access from any mobile client and desktop and providing our open cloud file server platform so that users can choose to work with the clouds that they need, in the way they want to.

To summarise we see iCloud as an opportunity, not a threat, for users and small businesses who wish to extend iCloud’s functionality and who wish to integrate it into their information and collaboration processes.

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