This article originally appeared in the Q1 -2013 edition of Cloud Computing Magazine.
Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policies have earned the ire of IT professionals and security experts, but for organizations that have embraced software-as-a-service (SaaS (News - Alert)) solutions, BYOD can actually make data more secure. The reason is simple: BYOD decreases the chances of user error.
BYOD is a policy of allowing employees to provide their own computers and/or mobile devices for use on the job. Employers save money by reducing hardware purchasing and maintenance costs, and employees enjoy the freedom of choice to use whichever mobile phone, tablet or laptop that best meets their preferences.
The growth of mobile technology coupled with the continuing development of cloud applications for enterprise has created a perfect environment for the BYOD movement. As employees continue to grow accustomed to having personal data and services always-available via mobile devices, they will desire the same level of convenience when it comes to their business data and applications.
The assumed drawbacks of BYOD are the difficulties of supporting and securing an unpredictable diversity of technology. Putting business data on non-business devices also runs counter to a great deal of conventional IT wisdom. A growing number of organizations are turning to SaaS solutions as a remedy for these concerns.
The use of Google (News - Alert) Apps, for example, means that no business data resides solely on any BYOD hardware. Google Apps is accessible by any modern, mainstream browser, making it relatively easy for IT staff to guarantee that virtually any BYOD laptop, tablet or phone can access the service. Generally, the growing always-connected workforce will go hand-in-hand with the ongoing improvement of cloud computing and SaaS capabilities. Mobility of the workforce means mobility of technology. An always-connected workforce will ensure business continuity and keep remote and traveling employees productive and accessible.
In addition, as cloud and mobile technology providers have recognized the needs of enterprises, businesses are seeing improved of features and functionalities that bring increased control and security to data available on the cloud.
Administrative controls within many of the best cloud applications allow IT departments to proactively gain control over their cloud-based documents, emails and data. Full control and independent access to SaaS data in the cloud ensures efficiency in cloud operations at a large scale.
The greatest threat to cloud-based data residing is user error. For example, 63 percent of Google Apps data losses are due to user error, while virtually zero are directly attributable to a failure of the Google’s hardware or software.
By allowing employees to use devices with which they are most comfortable, your staff will likely commit fewer errors. If employees use the same BYOD hardware for personal and work-related tasks, they will develop additional familiarity and skill with the devices that will further reduce the chances of user error.
For example, an employee may have a Windows PC at work and a MacBook for use at home. The keyboard shortcuts for each operating system are slightly different, making it easy to mangle a common copy-paste function in a word processor or spreadsheet. Using the same BYOD MacBook for work and personal computing eliminates these platform-juggling errors. The same holds true for an employee using a Blackberry for work and an iPhone (News - Alert) for personal use.
Even for non-cloud systems, user error typically represents a third of all data loss, second only to hardware crashes. The drawdown in user error from BYOD is gained regardless of whether an employee is creating a document in Google Apps or Microsoft (News - Alert) Word.
By implementing a backup and recovery plan for all SaaS data when moving to the cloud, CIOs can gain even more peace of mind. Although many cloud providers do not offer a complete, recoverable backup of all data, cloud-to-cloud backup services eliminate the risk of data loss due to user error.
BYOD can’t make your data indestructible, but when combined with good IT policies, regular employee training and comprehensive data backup, it can ensue the integrity of your company data while supporting a more flexible, productive workforce.
Rob May is the CEO and co-founder of Backupify (News - Alert), a backup provider for cloud application data.
Edited by Brooke Neuman