Google Drive fuels shadow IT concerns
By Asia Cloud Forum editors 25-Apr-2012
The recent launch of Google Drive could again fuel concerns over the risks of security breach and data loss that shadow IT can bring to an organization.
"On the face of it, this topic does not appear to concern the corporate IT manager or CIO, but chances are employees will start using this service to do more than share family photos and recipes," said Richard Edwards, a principal analyst at Ovum.
Already, there is an obvious use case for Google Drive for employees interacting and collaborating through corporate email systems that impose measly storage quotas and message attachment size limitations. With the cloud-based drive, users can share large corporate files, such as PowerPoint presentations, engineering drawings, and video.
Like other Google Apps, each user of Drive gets 5GB of storage. Administrators on Google Apps for Business accounts can buy storage on demand with an additional 20GB costing $4 per month. They can buy up to 16TB of storage. Google Docs, which is built into Drive, don't count against the user's storage quota.
"Concerned with data leakage and the loss of corporate intellectual property, the unsanctioned use of cloud storage services presents a real headache for corporate governance, risk, and compliance managers," said Edwards. "Many organizations already block access to popular file-sharing web sites such as Dropbox, but we believe there is an inevitability about the use of these services that warrants further investigation."
Encryption and verification
However, Scott Johnston, Google's product manager, highlighted services such as encryption on data transfers between the user's browser and servers, and optional two-step verification that requires users to sign in with a secure code from their mobile phone.
With encryption and a centralized control panel for administrators to add or remove storage for individuals or teams of users, Drive is poised to allow users to "store everything safely and access it anywhere" from any device. "You can install Drive on your Mac or PC and download the Drive app to your Android phone or tablet," said Johnson. "We're also working hard on a Drive app for iOS devices."
Also in the pipeline is optical character recognition (OCR) technology that allows users to search for a word from the text in a scanned image, and image recognition technology. For example, "after you drag and drop photos of the Grand Canyon into Drive, you can search for 'grand canyon' and photos of its gorges should pop up," said Johnson.
Ovum encourages businesses to consider only cloud drive and collaboration services that "feature management and administration capabilities essential from a compliance and audit perspective".