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Knowing what lurks in Shadow IT

Knowing what lurks in Shadow IT

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It’s easy for Shadow IT to pop up and proliferate. Cloud services are simple to provision—too simple, in the minds of some. Yet, such services spread because business units and individual contributors find they can get something done more quickly than IT is able to. Nobody wants to quash innovation, but there can be costs of not knowing what is going on in your organization.

Anybody can easily provision cloud services ranging from popular file-hosting services to sophisticated customer relationship management solutions. “Users see a retail outlet for IT where they can enter a credit card and get whatever they want within moments,” The Register observes.

That may result in enterprises unknowingly paying for far more services than they need. Worse, it can lead to information being stored in a manner that is not fully secure, or which results in a compliance violation.

This may come to a head for many companies in 2018, when the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) goes into effect, establishing new requirements over data privacy, consent, right to access, and right to be forgotten, among others. Major violations could lead to organizations facing fines of up to $20 million.

Huge compliance problems

“SaaS applications,” writes Hurwitz & Associates analyst Daniel Kirsch, “may contain customer information, while home-grown cloud applications may house important intellectual property, customer data or product information. It’s likely that the compliance office, privacy office and CIO didn’t sign off on each of these services. This shadow IT is causing major problems for companies preparing for the GDPR and attempting to comply with all its rules.”

Still, there’s a reason Shadow IT occurs, and it’s often attributed to frustration with the ability of the IT department to sufficiently or quickly respond to user needs. “It’s important for IT to identify and understand the technologies being used within the business, but curtailing Shadow IT entirely is often difficult to accomplish and can stifle innovation,” warns Rackspace CTO John Engates.

Cloud has become a vital component in overcoming the server sprawl that, at one point, left an estimated 30% of all servers unutilized, representing a $30 billion waste of resources. Many enterprises rose to that challenge by implementing private cloud, which reduces costs by aggregating resources across one resource pool and allows for greater use of standards-based commodity hardware.

Taking control

Now it’s time for IT to take control of Shadow IT, without quashing innovation and agility. “The first step,” says Engates, “is usually to audit your technology footprint and identify all the specific services your employees use.”

Fortunately, there are cloud services suited to virtually any workload. But, Engates advises, “To make the best decisions, you need cloud experts who understand the wide array of services offered by the leading providers, their strengths and weaknesses, and how they map to your specific needs.”

The reality is that an estimated 85% of enterprises, by design or not, will utilize multi-cloud architectures in 2018. If managed effectively, this movement will lessen the likelihood of Shadow IT and make for more efficient use of cloud services. For more insights, click here.

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