At this point, the cloud is old news. This does not, however, diminish its continuing impact on individuals and businesses worldwide. As cloud-based services strive towards ubiquity, their impacts will likewise scale, as will their effects. In fact, 74 percent of CTOs today believe that cloud computing will have the most measurable impact on their business this year.
Specifically in the area of file storage, the cloud has swiftly become the domain of governmental regulations, vast venture investments and the source of information sharing for businesses. We’ve witnessed the evolution of simple online storage options morph into full-featured Enterprise File Sharing and Sync (EFSS) solutions. We’re watching businesses move to auto-scaling, pay-as-you-go and as-a-service models.
The big question now is, where will to go from here? How will these cloud-based tools continue to grow and adapt to the varied needs of individuals and enterprises? Here are the top five predictions for how cloud storage will change in 2018:
1. GDPR will catch most SaaS providers unprepared
It has been more than a year since the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) was passed in April 2016. The new regulations which represent a major change to European Union (EU) privacy law will go into effect in May 2018 across the EU. The GDPR works to modernize Europe’s data protection laws by changing breach reporting requirements and applying rules around how data is handled no matter where a provider is located. Despite ample warning, these new regulations will catch many SaaS providers off guard.
Enterprises will find it hard to meet GDPR compliance, as the new regulations detail involved requirements around the collection of personal data, processing and storage, breach and cyber-security notifications, cross-border data transfers and the appointment of data protection officers—and that’s not even all of it. Even though a long lead time has been granted to prepare, many enterprises and SaaS vendors will not be ready to meet the strict GDPR requirements. The fact that these regulations go well beyond the physical borders of the EU, and cloud-service providers across the globe will be bound by the GDPR’s guidelines, is where the predicted troubles lies.
2. Decentralization will become focus of governments worldwide
As evidenced by GDPR, data cannot be held by the same physical boundaries that define nations, and the effects of geopolitical events on data ownership are similarly unrestrained. While encryption offers some level of protection against data integrity, it does little to solve issues around data sovereignty. Access to data that is held solely within the U.S., for example, can be blocked or requested by the U.S. government. This can pose a serious problem for foreign governments using cloud-based services that don’t offer decentralized data services.
Driven by a need for data integrity, sovereignty and security, governments and governmental organizations—especially those outside the U.S.—will seek decentralized cloud services to ensure absolute control on where data is stored and who can handle it.
3. Emergence of cross repository governance and protection products
Much like consumer use of the cloud, enterprises also find themselves with data distributed across numerous services. And given the expanse of enterprise data, attempts to simplify by transferring all files into a single storage repository is not practical. In fact, as an organization grows, the number of repositories in use will expand to accommodate.
On the other hand, enterprises are trying to limit repository expansion in order to better manage backup, search, protection and governance—not complexity. Employing even just a few repositories can make it difficult for internal IT teams to manage and secure content. This emerging difficulty will need to be addressed by tools that can assist need cross-repository governance and protection.
4. Ransomware protection takes a front seat
2017 has seen a viral epidemic of ransomware attacks and the threat will only escalate. Businesses of all types and sizes are susceptible, as these attacks often focus on cloud service providers employed by the target. Ransomware protection, therefore, will become one of the top features sought after when selecting cloud services that host important business data.
5. Data loss prevention by content machine learning
Throughout 2017, artificial intelligence and machine learning have touched technologies across the spectrum, and cloud-based EFSS is no exception. In 2018, these technologies will act as the cornerstones of understanding data and improving data security.
For example, machine learning will help to minimize sensitive data exposure by analyzing content whenever it is collected, copied and shared. Machine learning will identify high risk data through text stream analysis and detecting Personal Identifiable Information (PII), including relevant data such as phone numbers, names, credit card numbers and more. With machine learning and artificial intelligence, content can be organized and access controls selected based on the sensitivity of that content. This application of technology will make its way centerstage and an integral DLP initiative in a threat filled environment.
The proliferation of cloud computing created a number of productivity tools but as the cloud continues to evolve, the very definition of cloud computing will change. Developments to the computing ecosystem, like advanced EFSS solutions, will push boundaries and forge new shifts in what we expect and how businesses and enterprises communicate and perform. Next year, the cloud will simply yet profoundly progress innovations—and in doing so advance industries across the board.