Today, cloud computing solutions are being adopted outside of IT entirely—by marketing, sales, operations, and other departments, which are using the cloud to address their own needs.
That’s the beauty of the cloud, right? It’s easy to sign up, much of it is free, and the problems are solved. You’ve heard of Bring Your Own Device (BYOD)? Now there’s talk of Bring Your Own Cloud (BYOC).
Often called ‘shadow IT’ or ‘stealth IT,’ this phenomenon forces IT to impart network security solutions in somewhat of a bubble, and according to a recent survey by SkyHigh Networks, IT departments may be deploying that network security incorrectly.
In the Cloud Adoption & Risk Report for Q3 2013, low risk, familiar services are blocked 40 percent more than high-risk services. Broken up by industry segment, some of the most common blocked services in the familiar category include Apple iCloud, Skype, Google Drive, Dropbox, bitly and PayPal, while high-risk services like CloudApp, SockShare, RapidGator or MovShare are rarely blocked.
In their Digital IQ survey, PricewaterhouseCoopers found that among the 100 companies it considers top performers, IT controls less than 50 percent of corporate technology expenditures. This contrasts greatly from ten years ago, when the Dachis Group estimated that only 10 percent of IT spending took place outside of IT. At smaller organizations where IT departments are even less influential, shadow IT is even more infectious.
While it can be a good thing for IT departments, shadow IT needs to be managed carefully and with discretion. Take an audit of your organization’s cloud computing solutions usage. Take note of which applications are in play and for what purpose. You may be able to consolidate, which could help you streamline usage, lower costs by increasing buying power, and lessen your corporate systems’ exposure to external threats.
Ultimately, cloud computing solutions are often portrayed as a panacea for dysfunctional IT systems, but they can easily create as many problems with infrastructure, systems management, security, application configuration, and data access as they solve. Cloud computing solutions are all about changes to your environment and level of control over asset storage, security, workflows, and data availability. However, much of what runs across your existing IT landscape today is actually very predictable and probably doesn’t need the extreme flexibility touted by cloud technology and service vendors. That’s why IT departments today need to assess cloud computing usage and where it’s needed most.