Staples, the retailer known for its "easy" button, is getting more heavily into the cloud business through subsidiary Thrive Networks with Cloud Workspace.

Small businesses across North America have frequently relied on Staples for everything from office supplies to photocopying, and now the company is taking that "easy" button to the cloud in a curious move. Indirectly, the international retailer is joining the cloud computing market -- in this case, the cloud security market.

Thrive Networks, a Staples company, is looking to the cloud to offer a solution to small business security headaches. Cloud Workspace, which Thrive resells from IndependenceIT, was designed to give end-users the ability to view their work desktops through any device as long as they can connect to the Internet. According to the company, it lays a foundation for small businesses to build on BYOD and mobility strategies that puts corporate data in the cloud rather than on a plethora of devices throughout the company -- a way of securing data while also making it more available to the folks that use it most.

Staples isn't exactly new to the cloud, of course. Thrive Networks is a managed services company owned by the office supply retail giant, and a year ago, it launched a cloud services platform for small business customers. ThriveCloud started up as a hosted Exchange and hosted Microsoft Small Business Server services provider, but now the company is adding cloud security to its mix of services.

The typical customer for the Staples subsidiary remains small businesses with 10 to 250 employees -- a subset that still is sometimes sporting woefully inadequate security systems.

With the new Cloud Workspace service, Thrive is looking to help companies put their data in a central place so they can focus on the security of individual devices rather than the network.