Shadow IT (AKA cockroach technology) – when business units (and/or individuals) buy, own and operate IT resources with little or no assistance from the IT group – is apparently far more pervasive than enterprises suspect, but fortunately Cisco is charging to the rescue. The company has unveiled Cloud Consumption as a Service, a software as a service (SaaS) that discovers and continually monitors cloud usage across an organization and delivers detailed analysis and benchmarking.
Shadow IT has been an issue for years, but according to new data from Cisco, it’s a much bigger concern than anybody is aware of. New analysis reveals the average large enterprise uses 1,220 individual cloud services, which is up to 25 times more than estimated by IT. The average number of cloud services has grown 112% over the past year (i.e. more than doubled), and 67% over the past six months.
Cisco has been providing cloud monitoring services for a couple of years, said Bob Dimicco, Senior Director, Advanced Services, Cisco, and has been using the SaaS service internally for the last 12 months. “What’s new is we’re taking the software tool that we’ve been using for a couple of years… out from under professional services, to a standalone product.”
Hosted in Cisco’s cloud, the company’s IT group has been using it for well over a year, he told IT Trends & Analysis. He said some of the company’s best practices are based upon what they’ve found to be useful. It’s about embracing Shadow IT, enabling choice, but appropriately. The cloud can provide a number of benefits, but there are also a number of risks, said Dimicco, including:
-Business Continuity: 26% of providers have a very high/high risk of ceasing operations in 12 months;
-Data Protection: customers discover 44 high risk cloud services on average;
-Compliance: 60% of the top 100 cloud services are subject to 4 major regulatory areas;
-Costs: hidden costs 4-8X higher than billed costs, redundant services; and,
According to Gartner, Shadow IT has a significant slice of the IT investment pie, and that slice is only going to get bigger. “Shadow IT investments often exceed 30% of total IT spend,” said Matt Cain, research VP, Gartner. “This will only increase because demand for new apps and services to pursue digital opportunities outstrips the capacity of IT to provide them. At the same time, cloud services will mature and employee demographics will shift to increasingly technically savvy employees frustrated by the pace of traditional IT, and with the skills to find their own IT solutions.”
“Organizations that formally embrace and extend the digital competencies of their employees will experience improved business outcomes and gain competitive advantage,” said Cain. “The trick, however, will be to ensure that employees willingly embrace new technology, rather than feel threatened by it.”
Cisco is a strong proponent of Shadow IT, and has realized a number of benefits, said Dimicco. First, it has enabled IT and the cloud group to continue an ongoing dialogue about Cisco’s current and future needs.
Second, it has provided data, information and insight to identify the services that are used most by the most people, and enabled the company to focus on the vendors and, where appropriate, establish SLAs with them. The third benefit is helping Cisco determine best practices for modifying or maintaining services appropriately, i.e. migrate to private cloud, or stay public.
The fourth benefit, which the company is currently working on together with some of its larger customers, is analyzing the uses by internal organizations, and the outcomes of those uses, with the intent to create best practices, when and where necessary.
For the immediate future, Cisco will be focused on getting its partners up to speed on the new offering, said Dimicco. “We want to make sure our Cisco partners understand this capability and can tie it into all of the cloud capabilities existing within the Cisco ecosystem.”
Available now, prospective customers can try the service for free for 30 days. Costs are expected to be $1-2 dollars per employee per month, depending on the size of the business.