It’s easy for companies to see the immediate benefits of “Shadow IT” – an unintended environment that occurs with uncoordinated deployment and management of as-a-service hardware and software. From the outside, there’s a certain independence associated with taking IT out of the loop and taking a more direct approach, in which each department manager is responsible for deployment and oversight. The ease and low cost of the as-a-service model has made this possible, and some companies are even using shadow IT in their positioning statement, to leverage new business . The ability to appear as a tech savvy company that is capable of innovation is a highly prized characteristic, but it can be a costly and problematic strategy.
Here’s a familiar scenario: a company will elect to go online and begin to piece together virtual machines and hire their own developers. As time goes by, a company will periodically add new machines, pay for ongoing maintenance, build applications and go live with them. The whole endeavor becomes a steadily increasing margin of expenditure over time that many CIOs just write off as a cost of doing business without seeking any other alternatives. Because the data center is viewed as “the lifeline,” where disruption represents significant loss, it’s easy to ignore this aspect, even as the costs continue to slowly mount.
Most companies don’t notice the entirety of the shadow IT spending because all of it doesn’t appear in one place, like the company credit card bill, or outside machine repair, and it is often deployed piecemeal and without a unified strategy. What about security risks as usage and open VPNs are not monitored by IT?
The staff generally monitors servers, routers and storage devices which all deliver alerts periodically. Unfortunately, many of these alerts are delivering false positives, but from the staff perspective, there’s no way to tell. In this situation, the staff likely calls upon a senior-level engineer to help look for the problem and identify the source of the error, which is time consuming. Instead of focusing on innovation the highest paid engineers are searching for problems and playing damage control. This causes two problems: A) there is more business pressure to go Shadow as IT has no time for innovation and B) they also do not have time to help tether in the shadow and the cloud to make sure they work to their full potential.
This last sentence makes no sense in the context of this blog…e.g., shadow IT has nothing to do with highly paid engineers (other than if engineers doing wrong things, they have less time for innovation…)
One way to resolve the issue is utilizing IT services and platforms that encourage streamlined information and effective communication between VMs. As a result, the information then easily relayed to the staff who can respond as needed.
In many cases, companies recognize the costly downfalls of shadow IT, but building a company specific data center was the only choice they had at the time as a start-up or new business. But growth and expansion can be a negative thing for shadow IT because everything rides on the ability of the equipment to handle it. It’s not difficult to imagine how simply monitoring the system and the full time job of damage control becomes a vicious cycle. And it can be a continuously costly one that holds a company back from reaching its potential in innovation.
For companies caught in the routine of “putting out fires” as a result of shadow IT, there should be actions taken from executive levels to explore more holistic options. Companies will experience an operations learning curve, but it will ultimately result in increased productivity and innovation while decreasing expenditure on multiple fronts. Bringing
all types of infrastructure, storage, private, public cloud and everything under one roof will result in better information management, security, and business outcomes.
- Chris Joseph