Home > cloud, ECM, marketing, opinion > The poisoned chalice of #EFSS and cloud shared drives

The poisoned chalice of #EFSS and cloud shared drives

(Original article on LinkedIn June 29, 2017)

Box can do what network shares do” claims a recent email campaign for Box Drive.

Noooooo!!!!!!” echoes the collective scream of #ECM and #InformationGovernance practitioners, who have been trying to wean users away from the nightmare of network shares, for the last 25 years.

Just to be clear, my warning is not specifically about Box. Take Box Drive, Google Drive, OneDrive, DropBox, or any of the recent offerings that define the EFSS market.

The idea of replicating the functionality of shared network drives in a cloud environment is a really, really bad idea.

It propagates silos, lack of organisation, lack of governance standards, lack of consistency, lack of security and, ultimately, loss of control and accountability.

It’s not a technology issue. I know that Box Drive, for example, can offer much richer security and better document management capabilities than standard network shares.

But the users don’t.

And advertising these capabilities as a “better network share” which “allows them to use the same workflows they use today”, reinforces all the bad behaviours that we have been trying to eradicate all these years.

I get it: It makes sense to move your unstructured content from your expensive on-premises storage disks to a managed, scalable, and significantly cheaper cloud alternative, where you don’t have to think about backups and disaster recovery, and rack space, and air-conditioning, data-centre managers with night shifts, system upgrades, etc. I understand all that.

But taking your existing content mess and moving it wholesale to the cloud, is not the right answer. It may be quick and easy, but that doesn’t make it right. You are just delaying the inevitable. If you do want to move your content to the cloud, think VERY carefully about what you are doing and why you are doing it:

  • How do you assess what content you actually have and what risk it carries?
  • What needs to be preserved and what needs to be thrown away?
  • Who needs access and how will you protect and monitor security and privacy?
  • What do you need to encrypt?
  • How are you going to organise and classify what you are keeping?
  • How will you avoid unnecessary duplication and understand whose version is the right one?
  • How will you teach your users to stop emailing 85MB PowerPoint files to each other for review?
  • How will you teach them to stop downloading GDPR sensitive information into spreadsheets and sharing them out with partners and third parties over email?
  • How will you ensure that when an employee leaves, his cloud drive does not become a black hole for critical business information?
  • How will you apply AI and Analytics across your whole corporate knowledge base, if it’s scattered across thousands of personal silos?
  • Etc., etc., etc.

The list is endless…

You can argue whether “ECM is dead” or if it should be called “Content Services” or “Intelligent Information”, or whatever. It will not make the problem go away. The reason ECM became a multi-billion software market, is because of companies realised the risks that network file-shares had created, and the need to add a layer of governance and control, classification, metadata, and automation, above the standard uncontrolled “file sharing” that the operating system offered.

Caveat Emptor – Buyer Beware!

Please don’t take us back 25 years by re-creating the same nightmare, taking one of the least disciplined Information Management practices, and replicating it to the cloud.

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