One of the big threads in the Mountain Lion features that Apple has posted is much deeper integration with iCloud that Lion offers. That isn’t a surprise given Lion began a trend of bringing iOS functionality to the Mac, but it may raise some concerns for Macs in the workplace.
In Mountain Lion, Apple is bringing the iOS document syncing feature to OS X along with Mac versions of the iOS Notes and Reminders apps. There’s also a Mac version of the iOS 5 Notification Center. These are all tremendously valuable features for business users, but the fact that they function by passing business content to Apple’s iCloud servers and onto the devices of employees and their family members is likely to be a big concern for CIOs.
The first point that Apple makes about iCloud in Mountain Lion is how easy it is to set up – enter your Apple ID and password and every iCloud-enabled feature gets configured and starts syncing. That means contacts, calendars, emails, bookmarks, apps from the Mac App Store, notes, reminders, and documents. This is great from a consumer perspective and even from a personal productivity perspective for business users. In fact, most of the things iCloud syncs are perfect solutions for knowledge workers.
The problem I can see based on Apple’s descriptions and short feature videos is that it all happens simultaneously with little or no control by the user or by the user’s IT department. That means Mountain Lion may just sync everything, personal and professional. With documents and notes, that’s particularly problematic from a business security standpoint.
Apple may very well be planning to add some controls to iCloud features, but if the controls available in iOS 5 are any indication, there won’t be many options and the options that are there won’t offer granular implementation. Using iOS 5 as a guide, we may see the ability to turn off specific features whole (notes sync, document sync) but not the ability to drill down and turn off syncing for documents created by a specific application.