Why Won’t Cloud Providers Give Us Something For Nothing?

That’s a silly question, isn’t it?

Cloud providers are businesses, so they will only give away a limited amount of goods or services in the hope that it will entice us to purchase more. We don’t expect physical-world businesses to provide endless free stuff forever. But many people conclude that The Cloud is completely different and so we should expect things for free.

Cloud services are cheap, and getting cheaper, but they aren’t going to be free.

I recently read yet another piece by an on-line information technology writer bemoaning the loss of a free giveaway. This one was about SugarSync, which is very similar to Box and DropBox.

The writer had taken advantage of free 5 GB of storage for a little over a year. Then one day an email announced that everyone had 90 days to either start paying for storage or else lose all their stored data.

He went on to describe some tricky methods of setting up multiple email accounts and “referring friends” (really his other identities) to get multiple free cloud storage allotments. While he had liked some of the SugarSync features he said, “But, I’m just not going to pay for something I can get for free elsewhere.”

Well, sure, a lot of that goes on. But as we discuss in Learning Tree’s Cloud Security Essentials course, there is also a lot of “shadow IT” going on. That’s the term for individuals purchasing cloud services (or at times, I’m sure, contriving to them get for free) without the involvement or even awareness of the IT department. Estimates — and they can be no more than that — indicate that well over half of the SaaS services such as drag-and-drop storage are purchased without IT involvement.

Shadow IT puts your organization’s data out in the cloud without any SLA between the cloud provider and your company. Once it gets spread across multiple accounts associated with fictitious email identities, I can’t see why you should have any confidence that you can protect it.

If you’re a potentially rogue employee thinking about setting up a bunch of fictitious email accounts for multipart free cloud storage of your organization’s data, please stop that.

If you’re a manager at an organization with valuable data, please realize that risky shadow IT is tempting for your staff. Maybe you’d better give them what they say they need.

There is some very recent good news. (That is, unless you’re trying to compete with Google in the field of non-free cloud storage.) Google recently announced a new cloud storage pricing structure that undercuts all its competitors, and which may have led to Amazon’s announcement of reduced AWS costs a few weeks later.

Google Drive offers 15 GB storage for free, then it’s 100 GB for $1.99/month, 1 TB for $9.99/month, and 10 TB for $99.99/month. For the 100 GB size, DropBox charges five times as much and Microsoft charges a little over twice as much.

Check out these good prices on cloud storage before your employees do something free and risky!

Bob Cromwell

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