3 Ways Enterprise IT Will Change in 2014

Two of the biggest stories in tech in 2013 -- the NSA spying scandal and Steve Ballmer's announced departure from Microsoft -- will impact the way your IT organization operates in 2014 in three key ways.

By Jonathan Hassell
Thu, December 26, 2013

CIO — The holiday season is a great time to look back at the year, with an eye toward what we in the ever-changing world of information technology can expect in 2014. These three trends warrant your close attention in the new year.

In Light of NSA Revelations, Companies Will Be Wary of the Cloud

For most businesses, 2013 was the year of the cloud. Companies that still hosted their email in house would in large part move that expense and aggravation to someone else. Microsoft SharePoint and other knowledge management solutions could be run in someone else's datacenter, using someone else's resources and time to administer, thus freeing your own people to improve other services or, gasp, work directly on enhancing the business.

But then Edward Snowden came around in June and started to release a series of damning leaks about the United States National Security Agency's capability to eavesdrop on communications. At first, most folks weren't terribly alarmed. But as the year wore on, the depth of the NSA's alleged capabilities to tap into communications — both with and without service provider knowledge — started to shake the faith of many CIOs in the risk/benefit tradeoff for moving to cloud services.

For companies in heavily regulated industries, it's hard to ignore the continued discovery of the depths to which the NSA has the capability to read data both in transit and at rest. Patient privacy records, sensitive financial transactions and any other data that must by law be kept private — is it now considered private? Can you warrant that to your customers? Can you warrant that to your regulators? Can you afford the risk that NSA access to your data represents? Is it even something that you can control, or do you just ignore it and hope for the best? (That is said with no judgment; given the realities of your business, that could very well be a valid strategy.)

How-to: 5 Tips to Keep Your Data Secure on the Cloud
More: Who Can Pry Into Your Cloud-based Data?

In 2014, we'll see a continued analysis of just what services make sense in the cloud, but some old cherished low-hanging fruit, like email and collaboration, will no longer be considered "easy wins" because of these continuing allegations. Perhaps the cloud will not be the default choice going forward but, rather, a choice made after careful study of the environment, using these PRISM leaks as one important bit of context.

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