Jul 162013

I do a lot of work with customers who want to share files between all of their user’s devices.  There are a number of commercial solutions available on the market like DropBox, Box, SkyDrive, iCloud, or Google Drive which utilize the public cloud to provide this data storage.  Unfortunately for them, the latest revelation from Edward Snowden was that allegedly, Microsoft was working closely with the NSA to provide direct access to Office 365, Skype and Skydrive (which Microsoft has since refuted).  Wither true or not, this does not create a good public relations experience for the world of public cloud storage.

Customers that I work with are always concerned with public cloud data leakage.  Data leakage is the possible release of company information caused by the unavoidable release of control over the security of the company’s data when stored in the public cloud.  The fear is that once this data is stored in the public cloud, the customer has no control over where it is stored or who has access to it.  As Edward Snowden revealed last week, it is possible that the NSA has access to files you store in the public cloud.  The problem is not that the NSA has this access, the problem is that the NSA is not impervious to data leakage themselves, as Mr. Snowden has shown.  Even though public cloud storage companies state that your data is protected, they are required to by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act court orders.  Not exactly installing me with a load of confidence.

So what’s a customer to do?  Intro: Horizon Workspace Data and Citrix Sharefile.  Horizon Workspace Data from VMware is private cloud only and does not contain any public cloud components.  It allows customers to share files between all of their user devices(Tablets, desktops, laptops, smartphones, etc) while storing the main copy of the data on private cloud servers in your datacenter.   Citrix Sharefile can store your data in the public cloud or on-premise storage zones.  However, even if you do use your own on-premise storage zones, Sharefile does house a directory inventory on the control plane in the public cloud.  So while the data can be stored in the private cloud, the directory listing gets shared with the public cloud.  Either way, the data itself is in your datacenter and not in the public cloud.

These two solutions (as well as a host of others) are looking more and more enticing to customers looking to provide access to their data for their users while still maintaining as much control as possible.  In the meantime, the public cloud alternatives will need to bandage their image for a while.  The bottom line is that there is no guarantee that our data is 100% private when it traverses the internet.  Maybe we should follow Russia and go back to using typewriters.  Or maybe we learn to accept the fact that this is the world we live in and that our data is never 100% secure.