Last week I gave the closing keynote at TechTarget's Storage Decisions San Francisco conference. My topic was about how the consumerization of IT is changing how IT departments think about storage. One of my key points was something I've been saying for awhile but that I've never actually written about: If you have quotas of any size, then your corporate data is in the cloud!
The reason is simple. Today's consumer-oriented file storage and sync products (Dropbox, Gmail, Google Drive, etc.) make it easy for users to access advanced file storage products based in the public cloud. So the instant a user gets some kind of alert telling them that they need to free up some space, they don't think "What can I delete?" They think, "What can I move to the cloud."
Quotas have no place in today's world. They're a remnant of days gone by when enterprise storage was expensive. But with today's storage technology which allows for deduplication and block-level single instance storage, there's no reason not to give users unlimited space.
I should clarify that having quotas in today's world is not bad per se. It just means that whatever you're applying the quota to will be in the cloud. But maybe that's not a problem? If that's your case, great! So I'm not saying "Quotas are bad because they force users to store stuff in the cloud." I'm saying, "Just FYI, if you have quotas, your users are storing stuff in the cloud." This is only a problem if you don't want your users to store work files, emails, and data in the cloud. (Which means you have to get rid of your quotas.)
By the way, quotas forcing users to store files and emails in an insecure way is not new. I mean what's the typical IT recommendation when users hit their Exchange mailbox limit? We usually show users how to download their mail into a PST, which they inevitably store on their laptop. I don't know about you, but I trust the security of an email on an Exchange server much more than I trust it in a PST file on a laptop. So this issue isn't new. It's just that the concept of the cloud brings this issue into the light.
So to be clear, quotas aren't bad. Just understand that forcing users to clean house might mean that you can cheap out on storage, but it doesn't help your data protection plan.