VMware: Shadow IT and covert clouds are good for business

Virtualisation giant sheds light on shadow IT issues.

Storm warning

Shutting down shadow IT deployments put companies at risk of alienating their staff and hindering their productivity, it has been claimed.

During a panel discussion at the VMware Forum in London yesterday, the trend for employees to bypass their IT departments and procure unauthorised cloud services (AKA covert clouds) was discussed at length.

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The topic was also the subject of a recent survey commissioned by the virtualisation giant, featuring responses from 3,000 office workers and 1,500 IT decision makers from across Europe.

Its findings revealed that 37 per cent of European IT decision makers suspect staff have procured cloud services without their permission.

We have a lot of covert IT out there, but we're having to turn some of that off.

The session was presided over by David Parry Jones, VMware's regional director for the UK and Ireland, who warned the gap between what users want and IT can provide is widening.

"The pace at which IT is expected to adapt to this has increased and does continue to increase. Without the right infrastructure, IT can't meet this demand," he said.

There are positives to be taken from this trend, he added, as it's good to see employees use some initiative to drive growth within their organisation.

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"But because of the security and management concerns, we want to work with our customers to manage and secure these interactions [with covert cloud services] in a better way than is going on today," he added.

Colin Towers, chief technology officer of global media company Aegis Group, said the trend suggests IT departments are failing to give users the resources they need to do their jobs.

"We have the business going out and procuring cloud services we really should [be] providing for them as part of our enterprise offering," he said.

"In a way, they've gone ahead and shown us where we need to be focusing."

Within his company, he claimed covert clouds were "rife" and often deployed with the best intentions.

 But the risk it poses to the business means it has to be kept in check.

"They don't know what it is to be a large corporate organisation dealing with global client contracts that have very onerous clauses where data privacy is moving up the agenda rapidly," he said.

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"We have a lot of covert IT out there, but we're having to turn some of that off and... catch [up with users] and give them the functionality we need because we've got to start tightening up the security boundaries.

"The only way to get the business onside [in this situation] is to up our game, be more accommodating because they will carry on doing what they are doing until something really bad happens and we lose a major global client," he added.

As a result, IT departments need to work hard to get users back on side, and one way of doing this is by making themselves more open and accommodating to users' demands.

This was the advice given by Gordon McMullan, chief technology officer at car manufacturer Jaguar Land Rover, who also claimed bypassing IT to get what they want is nothing new for end users.

"Pseudo IT divisions have been around for as long as IT has...The changing factor is around SaaS, [which means] businesses now have the power to transact whole workloads without any visibility or interaction with IT," he explained.

"If [staff] see I'm willing to speak to them and move towards helping them, they will actually come and speak to me [about] IT...[but] my first challenge is to get the business to talk to me about IT."

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