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As employees increasingly turn to the cloud to select and provision applications that meet their specific needs, IT leaders find themselves struggling to stay connected with the services running across their infrastructure.
This level of self-service is widely known as "shadow IT." However, the legitimate IT department is typically looking for ways to prevent it from happening. Under the best of circumstances, there are concerns about security, resources, and similar issues that map to the ultimate success of the company. At worst, the issue can devolve into a political turf battle as users seek to demonstrate their autonomy while IT people seek to assert their control over the infrastructure.
But, the two do not need to be at odds with one another, according to two presenters at UBM Tech's Cloud Connect conference, which is underway this week in Santa Clara, Calif.
"The line between the reality and the illusion of shadow IT is getting fuzzy; it can be difficult to know exactly what is approved and what is not," said Margaret Dawson, Hewlett-Packard's vice president of product marketing for HP Public Cloud. "But there are a number of things that can be done in order to gain better control of the situation while still enabling users to have at least some level of autonomy."
Dawson advised the conference attendees to begin the process with an audit of cloud services. This audit would include identifying, locating and classifying the data, and then conducting a review of management and security policies that drive the company mandate, maximize efficiency and minimize risk.
From this effort, clearly articulated cloud policies should not only be developed but also systematically communicated to the employees through various training vehicles. In most cases, she says it is not necessary to completely disallow shadow IT. The emphasis is on development of a model that works for all parties concerned.
"Give a little," she said. "Don't automatically shut everything down. Throw them a bone if you can. Identify what you will allow to stay on the network, and then shut down the rest."