As a business cloud server, where does iCloud fall short?

The announcement of iCloud, Apple’s answer for cloud services, gained a lot of attention but came as no surprise. After all, what big tech company (Microsoft, Google, Amazon) isn’t heading for the cloud?

Apple isn’t a new player in the cloud industry; with previous unsuccessful iterations of cloud services such as iTools, .Mac and MobileMe, Apple has been a cloud veteran for over 11 years now.

Over 11 years of cloud development, Apple finally got it right with iCloud. Automatic scanning, syncing and storage of music, photos, documents to the cloud; allowing access from anywhere with an Internet connection. All this for just $100 a year for 55GB of storage, could this be the new cloud storage answer for businesses?

While iCloud is the perfect cloud storage for personal use, it still lacks the capabilities of handling business needs.

  • File sharing – Sharing files on your Mac, iPhone and iPad is great with iCloud. Automatic file sync and accessibility with multiple devices make iCloud ideal for personal or local team file sharing. But what if your business wants to share documents across offices or with business partners? Well you could send them your iPhone, or email multiple huge attachments. But business cloud services already exist that make file sharing easy as sending a link. Business cloud file servers such as Egnyte allows users to easily share files using links, public folders, and virtual dropbox with any device.
  • Device Heterogeneity – The iCloud works wonders with Apple devices, but what if your business uses other computing devices not on the Apple OS? Not everyone uses the same device; files uploaded from an iPad needs to be accessible by an HP TouchPad or Android mobile device. Business cloud file servers need to be compatible with multiple operating systems and devices. The cloud should enhance file accessibility and collaboration, not restrict it.
  • Server compatibility – Is your business ready to throw away your local file servers and storage devices? Your IT would definitely have a problem replacing existing local server/storage with a 55GB personal cloud. Storage servers such as NETGEAR NAS products and VMware virtual machines act as mass data storage devices and enable fast secure file access for all your employees. Businesses should look for cloud services that complement their existing storage servers rather than replacing them. Server compatible cloud services can enhance your local servers, adding greater levels of file storage, security and accessibility.
  • Security – This is the most important component of a file server. The number one concern of businesses evaluating cloud is data security. The iCloud storage system is no doubt backed by Apple’s enterprise class security network, but lacks the crucial element of administrative access controls. Suppose an employee accidentally deletes company documents on their iPad, or even worse gets their iPad stolen. Data can be easily compromised without an administrative control system in place. Businesses need cloud services that offer a central administrative system that can monitor, track and control file access on multiple user levels.

Apple’s investment in iCloud validates that cloud computing is the next biggest technology adoption trend. After 11 years of development, Apple feels confident about their presence as a cloud provider. As a personal cloud server, iCloud is the best around, providing smart personal features that competitors lack.

But as a business cloud server iCloud falls short of the critical business needs as mentioned above. Although if Apple continues its drive towards cloud computing, no doubt one day businesses will be able to replace their local servers with the cloud.

Vineet Jain is the CEO and co-founder of Egnyte. Prior to Egnyte, Vineet founded Valdero, a supply chain software solution provider, funded by KPCB, MDV and Trinity Ventures. He has held a rich variety of senior operational positions at companies including KPMG and Bechtel. He has 20 years' experience in building capital efficient organisations.

  • king rwac

    Apple has to take cloud computing to businesses. Personal cloud computing just isn’t that crucial. Storing personal files such as pictures, music, videos just isn’t important enough to put in the cloud. Businesses on the other hand need cloud computing for accessibility and security.