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Relaxing the death grip on corporate data—but just a little

relax-the-grip.JPGMy cousin is a golf pro and he always tells me “Don’t grip the club so tightly.” Swinging a golf club requires a firm grip, but not the death grip often applied as we try to control the ball. According to the pros, the fear-driven desire to maintain complete control can be counterproductive and actually result in less control.

 

Many of the IT organizations I work with react in a similar fashion. The mandate to protect corporate data leads them to ban access to facilities and services they can’t tightly control. But like a golf club, trying to maintain a death grip on corporate data and network access can be counterproductive and result in less control and greater risk.

 

Why? Because users have real business needs, and if we in IT don’t meet them, they will find ways to meet them outside of the services and facilities we provide. I know my consumer experience at home—where I have instant access to people, apps and data—drives my business experience expectation.

 

For example, we as end users increasingly need to share data externally and access it when we are outside the corporation.  Our need to share data and access it from anywhere on our laptop, tablet and smartphone leads us  to external cloud storage services like Dropbox, Google Drive, Google Docs, Microsoft SkyDrive and others. All of these services strive to protect our data—and that can be our corporate data—but even if they offer an appropriate level of security, quite often their assurances alone fall short of IT governance and corporate data protection standards.

 

If we within IT don’t know where our corporate data is and can’t demonstrate that a level of protection appropriate to the sensitivity of the data is in place, then we’re not fulfilling the mandate the business places on us. At the same time, if we inhibit users from completing their daily tasks in an efficient and effective manner, we are not meeting the needs of our true end customers.

 

So what is IT to do? The usual first reaction is grip tighter—add a firewall, create an ACL, ban external file services, limit employee use of devices, make the data employees need less accessible to them. But as we’ve all seen, that just forces the problem underground. What’s working with my customers today is acknowledging the needs users have and helping them meet them in the best, most secure way possible.

 

So how can you start replacing the divots left by consumer solutions?   Here’s where I start:

  • Investigate and understand the business and user’s needs.
  • Identify external facilities that best meet needs while enabling data protection.
  • Develop and promote guidelines and best practices for using the identified services.
  • Educate users and enhance awareness of the risks involved.
  • Understand your network perimeter and its strengths and weaknesses
  • Identify ways to monitor and control

 

These are the kinds of discussions I’ve been having with customers in our HP Transformation Experience Workshops for network Connectivity and Mobility. They are one-day, slide-free workshops focused on you while we deliver our experiences working with other customers like you.  And the workshops only last four to six hours, so there may be time for us to squeeze in nine holes when it’s over.

 

You can read more about the HP Mobility Transformation Experience Workshop in our brochure Make the Move to Mobility (pdf download). And read about the HP Connectivity Transformation Experience Workshop in this brief: Transform to an Agile, Dynamically Responsive Network (pdf).

 

 

 

 

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Jeff Enters works in the HP Technology Services Networking organization as a Chief Infrastructure Architect and has over 20 years of consulting, design and integration experience in multi-vendor Voice and Data environments. 

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About the Author
Jeff Enters works in the HP Technology Services Networking organization and consults with customers on their IT strategies. He has over 20 y...


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