Shadow IT, identified and unidentified cloud applications or services not directly under the control of IT. We’ve been hearing more and more concerns about this issue from our customers and partners. In fact, a Cisco survey of CIOs asked them to estimate how many cloud services they had running in their organization. The average response was 51 perceived services. However, the actual number determined by Cisco was a surprising 730 cloud services per organization.
Regardless of the exact average number of unknown cloud services found in most organizations, this research underscores the need for you to embrace and support cloud services in your organization. Because if left unaddressed, shadow IT presents risks to your company’s sensitive data, IT services, and budget. That’s why we’re writing this blog post.
The business value of browser-based web applications, whether on-premises or in the cloud, is clear. However, the shift in application delivery from on-premises datacenters to the cloud, with zero deployment costs and instant procurement with a company credit card, has created an abundance of shadow IT activity. Many IT operations managers in traditional enterprise IT organizations see shadow IT as a curse but, according to Gartner’s report “Embracing and Creating Value from Shadow IT”, it can also be a blessing, depending upon how it’s embraced.
First, let’s be clear, shadow IT isn’t your organization’s fault. It is the result of a paradigm shift caused by demand among business units outstripping IT’s ability to supply, along with a greater decision-making gap between users and IT. Add to that changes in society, technology, and the nature of work, and the result is shadow IT. So, how can those of you in IT operations management create some value from shadow IT? Turns out there are many pillars of value. Let’s explore a few of them.
When shadow IT is introduced into your environment, suddenly your team finds themselves in the dark, unable to effectively support end users. They don’t know about these new applications and, more importantly, they can’t determine the root cause of a functional issue.
From an IT operations perspective, understanding shadow IT use and maintaining control is critical to ensure end user productivity. Without proper control, your team can’t work effectively, because IT isn’t equipped to support unauthorized cloud applications, and the business suffers. End user projects don’t get done on time, customer calls take longer, and workers get frustrated. In addition, when businesses look to the cloud for solutions like file storage, your IT operations staff loses the ability to ensure proper controls on data retention and user account permissions. Your IT team can’t manage what they don’t know about and can’t detect. Even when they are involved with the use of these applications, they need telemetry about how these services and applications are being used.
Control isn’t about IT saying “No”, it’s about having the ability to say “Yes” to user needs and desires while ensuring smooth operations. This is particularly important for companies using web applications to manage and drive sales and customer service functions. When end users call for support, your IT team needs to know what the environment should look like, and what tools the end user is accessing.
Telemetry about browser-based applications, which can be on-premises or in the cloud, enables your IT operations team to deliver an efficient and robust end user environment. Understanding all system dependencies, and the impact of removing a business application or component, can help them protect the overall user environment. In addition, this insight saves time and money in the areas of test, deployment, system validation, and application patches. Without this critical data, even the best testing plans can inadvertently miss something and introduce problems making the environment unstable.
The key to addressing shadow IT – and embracing the value it brings – is having the right tools to understand shadow IT activity in your environment. You need browser management software tools designed to work in complex application environments.