Don’t Get Bullied by IT
by Mark Adams, on September 4, 2014
Original article at http://insights.wired.com/profiles/blogs/don-t-get-bullied-by-it#axzz3CKNHH8D4
Don’t Get Bullied by IT
In a modern world of self-service technology, enterprises have been introduced to a new technology — shadow IT. Shadow IT, also known as rogue IT or stealth IT, can be defined as IT systems and hardware and software solutions that are not approved or supported by an organization’s IT department. This includes, but is not limited to, technologies such as personal smartphones, cloud services, portable USB drives, external email servers such as Gmail, instant messaging, among other third party applications.
Shadow IT tends to come with a negative connotation because of the struggles it presents for enterprise IT departments and is usually avoided or prohibited. However, the reality is that with rampant increase of consumerizaton of IT, cloud adoption and BYOD, enterprise IT departments need to confront the challenges that come with shadow IT head on rather than ignore them.
One of the biggest issues that comes with shadow IT is enterprise security, especially when the applications being used are not subject to the same security measures applied to pre-approved technology. Depending on the industry, shadow IT can also cause a compliance concern, especially when employees use free third party cloud storage services, such as Dropbox, to store corporate data, making them more susceptible to malware and hackers.
Shadow IT can also create data silos because the application is not properly integrated into an organization’s existing network. IT departments are finding it difficult to maintain control of enterprise data due to the rapid adoption of public cloud storage. Because the public cloud rarely has an established relationship or connection with the company’s network and service provider, it is often difficult for IT teams to effectively monitor activity in these applications. If these applications are not set up to properly deploy on the company’s network, it can also negatively impact the bandwidth and software application protocols.
With all the challenges of shadow IT, awareness is key, and there is potential for an even bigger problem if CIOs and IT teams stick their heads in the sand or push back on the adoption of these technologies. If these issues are not addressed, IT departments lose control of their systems and network. Ultimately, they are opening up the possibility for the company’s assets, regulations and brand reputation to be irrevocably compromised.
Instead of ignoring the problem, IT experts should take the necessary steps to take control of shadow IT. The first step is for IT teams to properly educate themselves. Taking the time to understand the problems at hand will help them to audit their networks and solutions more actively and effectively. It will also help them to educate their employees about the inherent risks that come with these applications. In addition to education, IT must find a way to monitor and control the activity that takes place within these applications.
By overseeing application deployment and acquisition, IT is in the position to advise business units as to their various options and institute best practices. This knowledge exchange can only be built from IT’s engagement with the organization. Understanding those challenges and how they can be resolved is critical if IT is to leverage SaaS and users are to gain the kind of experience they expect from enterprise-grade tools.
SaaS and cloud services aren’t going away and IT departments would be wise to develop a cohesive IT strategy and a baseline set of regulations for the use of third party applications. They may be pleasantly surprised to find that these solutions increase employee efficiency and productivity.
Damon Ennis is SVP of Products at Silver Peak.