Shadow IT Steps into the Light

Jim Poole
Shadow IT Steps into the Light


Just when it seemed businesses were resigned to the uncontrolled growth of “shadow IT” ̶ organizations or individuals deploying cloud services and other technologies without IT’s support or knowledge ̶ it looks like businesses are starting to bring shadow IT out into the light. And, by stepping up enterprise cloud adoption, IT organizations have incorporated many shadow IT projects into their mainstream IT strategies.

Cloud-based shadow IT made a rapid early ascent. In 2014, Gartner predicted that by the end of the decade 90% of technology will be procured outside of IT. However, in a more recent prediction, Gartner estimates shadow IT management will account for only a little more than a third of total IT expenditures in 2016.

Cloud shadow IT took hold when business users became frustrated with the amount of time it was taking IT to approve, deploy or upgrade cloud-based applications and services they needed yesterday. Why go through all that bureaucracy, control and wait-time, when you could deploy a software-as-a-service application, such as Salesforce, for a modest monthly fee with your company credit card and start getting work done right away? Developers found they could crank up and down testbeds via AWS more easily and elastically than they could in-house. Users took to the easy collaboration enabled by consumer cloud file-sharing services.

IT organizations’ slow move to the cloud and their wariness of the security and integration challenges involved, further fueled the shadow IT fire. HHHhhh owever, as more and more IT departments embraced the cloud and business leaders realized there’s more to managing cloud services than they thought, including more opportunities for efficiency and innovation, both sides of the enterprise seem to be coming around. A 2015 CompTIA study, “Building Digital Organizations,” found that technology is becoming a more collaborative effort between IT and business units ̶ particularly finance, marketing, sales and HR. Increasingly, business and IT leaders are making joint decisions about new systems and technologies.

“‘Rogue’ or ‘shadow IT’ seems to be in the decline,” said CompTIA’s Seth Robinson, senior director of technology analysis. “Our data shows that companies are learning their lessons. They want a partnership (with IT) more than they want to work around IT departments.”

Why the shift? Many shadow IT perpetrators eventually run into situations that expose their failure to ask the tough questions about uptime statistics, fault tolerance, security, SLAs and integration that any IT organization would ask. IT can help ensure cloud services deliver the performance, security and compliance the organization needs by leveraging direct and private interconnection to cloud services. Also, forward-thinking IT organizations have begun providing catalogs of vetted cloud services that users can get up and running quickly.

From rouge to in vogue

This shouldn’t be a big surprise. Cloud shadow IT has followed a familiar enterprise trend in which users sneak new rogue technologies (i.e. WiFi, iPhones and iPads) into organization that eventually become mainstream and IT-managed after the tools and solutions become more readily available, and IT and users come to a mutual understanding.

“Now that the cloud has taken a firm hold in the enterprise, shadow IT will diminish naturally as internal resources gain the flexibility and availability knowledge workers require,” said Arthur Cole in “The Inevitable Decline of Shadow IT.

In SearchCloudComputing’s Cloud Predictions to Watch For in 2016, Paul Korzeniowski predicted that, “Shadow cloud purchases will dwindle in scope and impact in 2016. Business units will increasingly discover that they are not able to provide the service and management needed to support shadow IT applications. IT will also do a better job working with business units to deploy and support cloud systems.”

All of this doesn’t mean that shadow IT will completely go away. However, it does indicate a willingness for IT organizations to let shadow IT light the way toward greater innovation.


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Jim Poole Former Vice President, Business Development
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