Cloud shadows on corporate IT (part 1)

Nowadays everyone admits that traditional corporate IT is not agile enough to react to the users’ demands and to provide all the expected services. Hence users try to find solutions by themselves and often by using their own services without any CIO approval. This phenomenon is called “Shadow IT”.

Shadow IT is not new. It all began with users’ specific developments (for example based on Excel, Access or a RAD solution). But now, with the rise of the cloud, it’s simpler than ever… there is nothing to install, you just have to choose among all the services offered by the providers.

Just like BYOD (“Bring Your Own Device”), there’s a growing demand for BYOS: “Bring Your Own Services”.  It’s a major step in the ongoing consumerization of IT.

Where does this trend come from?

  • Users are no longer ignorant about technology, especially the “Y generation” (see http://labs.sogeti.com/generational-profiles/ )
  • Cloud services are more and more capable for business usage
  • These services are mobile, social and well known by everyone (kind of de facto standards)

Are you a Shadow IT user?

  • Have you ever forwarded a professional email to your personal email account (Gmail or other) in order to read it later because your company doesn’t provide you a corporate device?
  • Have you ever exchanged corporate big files with DropBox because your company’s IT is not able to transfer such big files?
  • Have you ever used Doodle to organize a meeting with attendees from different companies?
  • Have you ever created a community on Google+ for ideas sharing?

If you’ve done any of these things, you’re participating in Shadow IT!

Here are a few common examples:

  • Personal web mail (of course)
  • File storage/sharing ( DropBox, GoogleDrive, Hightail,  … )
  • Social network (LinkedIN, Viadeo, Google+, … )
  • Micro Blogging (Twitter, … )
  • Project and organization ( Trello, Murally, Doodle, … )
  • Web site (Google Site, … )
  • Services for developers (GitHub, Assembla, Codenvy, CloudBees, … )
  • Publishing ( paper.ly, Pinterest, Scoop.it)
  • Bookmarks and notes (EverNote, )
  • Communication (Skype, …)
  • And many more specialized services …

What’s the point of fighting against shadows?

CIOs are aware of Shadow IT, they just can’t stop it! The trend to consumerization is very much connected to the business needs and the users’ culture. It’s unstoppable! So why not just embrace the cloud and try to work efficiently with its services?

Use it. But use it wisely taking into account the implications in terms of security, data retention, integration, cost standardization, legal aspect, support, maintenance, etc. These are elements I will develop in my next post. To be continued…

Laurent GuérinAbout Laurent Guérin

Specialized in Java and Web technologies with over 20 years of experience in the areas of databases, object development, code generation and project management. More on Laurent.

 

Comments

  1. Doug Edmondson says:

    When I worked at GE as an IT Project Manager we saw this all the time. There were hundreds of spreadsheets, MS Access and web applications used daily to make business decisions. Many of these unsanctioned apps had become integral to the business operations whereby the business could not easily function without them. However since these rogue apps were not part of the support tech deck local users were left without support and would call us (local IT staff). We were caught in the middle between wanting to support the business that paid us and corporate saying rogue apps were not to be supported. In some cases the business function would hire their own IT support people under a non-IT type title. Even when we had approval to help, we got bogged down in the corporate process following the steps, logging support issue reports, assigning tasks, performing risk analysis, etc. Most the time it was better to not say anything and just fix the problem.

    Corporate may be aware that these issues exist, however it seems they have their head’s stuck in the sand when it comes to dealing with the issue. They continually cut IT staff and outsource to save IT dollars, but cause increased costs in other business functions. Cloud shadows are not going away so lets start help users make better use of what’s available.

  2. Jos Punter says:

    Cant wait for part 2 ! These questions at the end of the post deserve answers :)

  3. Stephane L. says:

    PRISM will it affect this trend?

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