Shadow IT Not Limited to Rogue Employees

Posted by skyhighnetworks on March 19th, 2014

Cloud apps are widely used in the workplace, whether approved by IT or not, according to a new report by cloud security vendor Skyhigh Networks which shows the average company uses a whopping 626 cloud services. While many of these apps present risk to the company, blocking them may not be the answer according to Skyhigh CEO Rajiv Gupta. "What we find is that employees are just going to stop using services that are blocked and using other ones that are potentially riskier."

So-called “Shadow IT” is technology in the workplace that is not approved or even known to the IT department. In recent years there has been a sharp increase in unapproved technology due to the ease in which employees can download an app onto his or her phone or tablet. The large variety of cloud apps has accelerated, and ranges from departments buying a service to individual employees using one.

When one app is blocked, the report shows that employees quickly find another, similar service to accomplish the same task. Since IT generally is aware of larger, brand name cloud apps, blocking them forces employees to use lesser-known riskier services that put the company’s data at risk.

Instead of banning cloud services, some IT executives are beginning to see value in embracing it. Even the term “Shadow IT” has a negative connotation, but it should be seen as an opportunity. By empowering employees to use cloud services they use to close more deals, deliver personalized service to customers, companies can be more agile and adapt to rapid change faster than if employees had to wait for IT approval for small projects or productivity enhancing apps.

IT departments have seen themselves as the owner and provider of technology but there is a shift happening where they are increasingly enablers or shepherds instead of builders and providers. This can be an uncomfortable change for many in IT who see their role as the final gatekeeper or decider of what technology the company will use. However, this traditional mentality can make IT seem like blocker stopping other people in the company from driving innovation and growing the business.

Gartner sees a new role developing in IT where it acts as a broker of services and adds value to the cloud service, instead of building the entire application. While this function can be outsourced to a third party service provider, a majority of respondents in a recent Gartner survey showed that 80% viewed the CIO or her direct reports as responsible for this new cloud service broker role. That can include integration between cloud services and on-premise applications and databases, or adding additional security and compliance capabilities to cloud services.

The cloud service broker role is being embraced by IT departments, with 43% planning to deploy some of these capabilities, Gartner expects one third of companies will have deployed a cloud service broker framework by end of 2014. The key to success in brokering cloud services is to partner with the business early in the process to understand the workflows employees are using and partner with them. The challenge for IT is to speak to the business in a new language.

Instead of focusing on the technology and security, IT departments increasingly are learning to speak the language of their business constituents, talking in terms of business objectives instead of pure technology. This helps them be seen as partners in achieving these objectives, and reduces the risk of being seen as out of touch with what the business needs to do to create value.

Author :

Skyhigh Networks, the cloud security company, enables companies to embrace
Cloud Analytics Services with appropriate levels of security, compliance, and governance while lowering overall risk and cost. With customers in financial services, healthcare, high technology, media, manufacturing, and legal verticals, the company was a finalist for the RSA Conference 2013 Most Innovative Company award and was recently named a "Cool Vendor" by Gartner, Inc. Headquartered in Cupertino, Calif., Skyhigh Networks is led by an experienced team and is venture-backed by Greylock Partners and Sequoia Capital. For more information on Shadow IT to Visibility and Cloud Control, visit us at or follow us on Twitter@skyhighnetworks.

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