Global Analyst Insights by Rene Buest

Cloud Computing and the Shadow IT

By on January 8, 2012 in Management @en with 0 Comments

Does cloud computing promote the shadow it? Yes, definitely! But, what exactly is this term “shadow it” we are talking about? In simple: The use of IT resources such as hardware and software by employees without the knowledge of IT departments.

This is not a new problem, on the contrary. Most computer in companies are in general not sufficiently protected against the common people. Via USB sticks or other media, but also the Internet software can access the PCs. For the first two-mentioned thin clients – computer with a minimal hardware configuration – eg without a CD drive can help.

In general, a shadow-IT arises not out of spite, but out of sheer desperation. So it happens that companies do not have enough software licenses available and the program can not be started because the authorization key is located on a server. In most cases, the short-term removing of the network cable is a solution. But in the long term only a software e.g. from the open source domain is an alternative.

Cloud Computing promotes this problem!

Instead of worrying about local alternatives, we now avail ourselves of the cloud. Nowadays it is easy to use a free cloud storage e.g. Dropbox, or to create a document using Google Docs. Going one step further, the kidnapping of documents or other files with it is also encouraged. Upload a file in Dropbox and Google Docs is done quickly. If the upload of files is prohibited, lets make this simple by creating a new Google Docs document and copying the contents from the local document in the “cloud” document.

It’s similar with infrastructure resources, so virtual servers from providers like Amazon Web Services, GoGrid and Rackspace. Due to the ever-easier-to-use management interfaces via a web browser, developers or departments can build up their own virtual datacenter in the cloud, without the notice of the IT departments.

But why is that?

During a conversation I recently heard the following statement:

“Our infrastructure services (IT / data center) is too inflexible and the period until we get new resources for a project is too long. In addition, they are not able to provide us a cloud computing infrastructure. Therefore, we have begun a test project to evaluate at the Amazon Web Services.”

Such statements show the problem: IT departments are hanging behind the technological requirements of the departments!

What needs to happen?

IT departments of course have the option using firewalls and other security technologies to restrict access to external systems. However, it is simply so that a limitation of the employees also reduces their creative potential. Therefore it is important for IT departments in the first place to provide active educational work.

In addition, IT departments should not be a supervisory bodies.

Some companies are now about to monitor corporate credit cards. If no corporate credit cards exist, the fees and travel expenses of employees are beeing monitored, as employees and departments have started to pay the costs of cloud service with a personal credit card and charged the costs to expenses, etc.. Such practices are however a surveillance state and foment distrust within the company.

IT departments should start own small cloud projects and report on them actively. True to the motto: “Do good and talk about it.” Thereby they show their colleagues and employees that they have the required expertise and are also open to the cloud and new technologies.

Today the IT is the business enabler and through the cloud IT departments get more potential to promote even more.

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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