Coming Out Of The IT Shadow: Is It A Threat, A Cure Or Both?

According to a PwC survey, 50% of IT managers admit that half of their budget is wasted on managing Shadow IT (the unsanctioned use of IT products and services), said Ennio Carboni, President, Ipswitch, Inc. The developer of network management, file transfer and messaging solutions said the ‘inability to track, manage and eliminate unapproved software and devices drastically eats bandwidth, slows networks and increases the IT financial/resource burden.’ Gartner says by 2020 90% of IT budgets will be controlled outside of IT and Forrester says IT could be obsolete by then.

However, Carboni said he doesn’t consider Shadow IT as much a problem as a business opportunity for IT. One of the disciplines he’s been able to keep alive is to cold call customers every week, and he speaks to hundreds every month. “Shadow IT is a real trend… (and) I’m a Shadow ITer.”

In a recent interview, Jeanne Beliveau-Dunn, VP and GM of Learning@Cisco, said the Shadow IT revolution, where IT resources are acquired outside of the control – and budgets – of IT, is one of the engines driving the growth and relevance of IT. “If you looked at the total budgets of IT, within and without IT, they’re actually rising.”

At the end of day people are going to consume the way they want to, said Beliveau-Dunn, and IT has to deal with this new reality. “IT is no longer a closed domain. It’s now an open domain, with many people participating, not just IT staff.”

You can number Dell CIO Andi Karaboutis among the Shadow IT believers. She signed one a Dropbox cloud-based file storage enterprise deal because “my users need that capability.” Rather than being on the defensive about users adopting consumer technology, Ms. Karaboutis says CIOs should embrace it assertively. “You have to understand why that shadow IT came in to begin with… All of a sudden, the business comes to you instead of finding shadow IT.”

According to a recent Symantec whitepaper, IT departments cannot halt the spread of ‘Shadow IT’ and its associated risks, so they must become part of the key decision-making process within organisations. ‘By embracing ‘Shadow IT’ as a key business enabler, then using governance, management and control solutions to mitigate risk and protect valuable data and assets, IT departments can proactively help the organisation to use ‘Shadow IT’ to achieve its business goals.’

Carboni said the reason why Shadow IT is growing is because the IT process today for most companies is wrong. Rather than the budgeting approach we’ve been using for the last 20-30 years, organizations should ask what approach do we need that would enable our employess to be more efficient and effective. “I actually view this trend as a positive one, the consumerization of IT.”

In general, IT needs to embrace Shadow IT and become a positive force for standardization through listening, he said. “It’s very inexpensive and very easy for employee to go out there and take on a SaaS-based solution for a short time. Instead of having CISOs appear as a version of big brother, they heed to work on enbabling the workforce to bring their own devices and managing the risks.

“After speaking with hundreds of customers, I believe security will go extreme, it will fail… and then we will have more reasonable and progressive policies”. He believes it will evolve like virtualisation, becoming much more proactive and with greater accountability.

Ipswitch offers four steps for minimizing the impact of shadow IT:

-flagging unauthorized apps before they cause problems;

-perfecting visibility into network bandwidth utilization;

-monitoring for rogue devices – who is accessing what, when and via what device; and,

-identifying root causes of outages and slowdowns faster and speeding time to resolution.

 

Author: Steve Wexler

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