Global Analyst Insights by Rene Buest

Cloud computing is a good remedy against shadow IT

By on July 25, 2013 in Analysis

Cloud computing is always represented as a great promoter of shadow IT. This has still its accuracy and I also have always strongly advocated the topic. But, with the right IT strategy, shadow IT can preemptively be prevented, be controlled and even eliminated through cloud computing. This is no simple way for all involved but worthwhile.

Reasons for a shadow IT

Shadow IT is not a cloud computing phenomenon. In any larger company one or the other developer has its own server under the table or IT projects somewhere have self-installed MySQL databases, in the worst case outside the company at a hoster. Users have, as long as they have the appropriate rights to install, their own software solutions in use by which they can be more productive than with their prefixed solutions. What are the reasons for a shadow IT?

  • Employee dissatisfaction with used technologies.
  • IT technologies do not meet the desired purpose.
  • IT departments are too slow.
  • IT departments do not deliver according to the desired requirements.
  • Due to cost pressure resources are cancelled.

How a shadow IT does express?

  • Own server under the table.
  • Workstation becomes a server.
  • Use of cloud infrastructures.
  • Own credit card is used, and then charged over expenses.
  • Undeclared or approved self-installed software.
  • Use of cloud-services and -software.

How does cloud computing help?

One just have to look at the reasons of the employees to understand, why they recourse to the shadow IT. The rebels among us left aside, it’s primarily about the dissatisfaction and the helplessness of the people who want to do their work more productive. At the end of the day and regardless of the technology it is about communication and mutual understanding. That an IT department may not have the speed, such as a public cloud provider is quite normal and very easy to follow, otherwise the IT could be the provider instead of the consumer. But there are ways and means not to miss the market too fast.

  • Do not prohibit everything and be open to requests.
  • Communicate and demand of employees ideas.
  • Establish think tanks and innovation teams who drive constantly new trends in the business.
  • Offering own self-services.
  • Allowing quick access to resources similar to public cloud providers.
  • Middleware as a service portal for employees, over which access is granted to internal and external cloud services.

Cloud computing is not the non plus ultra solution for shadow IT and definitely a driver of this problem. But at the same time cloud computing can help to counteract this over the years grown phenomenon. The relevant concepts and technologies are available and need to be implemented.

A promising approach is to create an own service portal for employees, over which these get a controlled access to internal and external cloud services. This can be either used for infrastructure (virtual servers and storage) or software and platforms. The IT department becomes more and more a service broker and is able to ensure, through the use of external resources (hybrid model), that the employees can expect a high quality service. Thus, for example, a server can be provided to a developer within five minutes instead of several weeks.

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About the Author

About the Author: Rene Buest is Gartner Analyst covering Infrastructure Services & Digital Operations. Prior to that he was Director of Technology Research at Arago, Senior Analyst and Cloud Practice Lead at Crisp Research, Principal Analyst at New Age Disruption and member of the worldwide Gigaom Research Analyst Network. Rene is considered as top cloud computing analyst in Germany and one of the worldwide top analysts in this area. In addition, he is one of the world’s top cloud computing influencers and belongs to the top 100 cloud computing experts on Twitter and Google+. Since the mid-90s he is focused on the strategic use of information technology in businesses and the IT impact on our society as well as disruptive technologies. Rene Buest is the author of numerous professional technology articles. He regularly writes for well-known IT publications like Computerwoche, CIO Magazin, LANline as well as Silicon.de and is cited in German and international media – including New York Times, Forbes Magazin, Handelsblatt, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Wirtschaftswoche, Computerwoche, CIO, Manager Magazin and Harvard Business Manager. Furthermore Rene Buest is speaker and participant of experts rounds. He is founder of CloudUser.de and writes about cloud computing, IT infrastructure, technologies, management and strategies. He holds a diploma in computer engineering from the Hochschule Bremen (Dipl.-Informatiker (FH)) as well as a M.Sc. in IT-Management and Information Systems from the FHDW Paderborn. .

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