Cloud // Infrastructure as a Service
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Alistair Croll
Alistair Croll
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The Rise Of Shadow IT

When the business wants change so much that it's willing to go rogue on IT, is it misinformed, or justified? Consider this advice, CIOs.

Part Two: Therapy

Now I'm going to play therapist. Why does the line of business want change so much it's willing to create its own shadow IT organization? Is it because it hates enterprise IT? Does it think it can do a better job? Those would be pathological reasons. If we assume that it's rational, then what it should want is to raise profits and lower costs--to turn resources into value. That's what everyone should want.

There are two possibilities. Either it's going rogue because it's misinformed, or it's going rogue because it's justified.

Is it misinformed? There's no doubt that public clouds have privacy, governance, and lock-in concerns that the line of business might not be aware of. There's also little doubt that for a predictable, stable workload, the raw cost of on-demand computing is higher than owning your own machines because you're paying someone else's profit, and paying for variance--this is simply a function of Just-In-Time economics.

Is it right? It takes far too long to spin up internal resources--often longer than the lifetime of the application--and today's climate of experimentation exacerbates the issue.

But there's a much more fundamental reason this couple isn't talking: They're not using the same language.

The line of business thinks top-down, and it wants to go down as little as possible. It starts by saying, "I want a website for this promotion," and goes only as deep as it needs to.

On the other hand, the enterprise IT department thinks bottoms up, and it wants to go up as little as possible. It starts by saying, "You'll need three 4-core servers and 2TB of data, running Linux, for a month," and only goes up as high as it needs to.

When enterprise IT says it's building a cloud, it's using a bottom-up definition: machines available when you need them, paid for based on the technical resources (RAM, compute cycles, storage, bytes sent) consumed. Think virtualization, plus.

By contrast, when the line of business says it's using a cloud, it's describing a top-down definition: a functional piece of software that just works, paid for based on consumption, seats, or some other business metric. Think Salesforce, minus.

And this, right here, is the reason they want a divorce.

I call this the service gap.

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User Rank: Apprentice
8/1/2012 | 12:39:13 AM
re: The Rise Of Shadow IT
Shadow IT problem or opportunity is all about barriers of entry. It is easier than ever before to use IT for strategic advantage. In this new context, (as indicated above, i.e. "building a set of services they can embrace") IT needs to provide access to platforms, tools and solutions that the business-side can customize and use. Too easy to go rogue. But success can be amplified if IT supports, not fights the trend. --Paul Calento
User Rank: Apprentice
7/19/2012 | 5:55:44 PM
re: The Rise Of Shadow IT
"Shadow IT" has been around since the late '80s. Picture the impatient sales or marketing LOB executive who needed a mission-critical, customized system and rejected the timeframe given by his/her IT department. In the days when mainframes ruled, this rogue LOB engaged non-mainframe, turnkey software application vendors. He licensed their products and had them installed/implemented by consultants. If the system worked, then the IT department subsequently had to support the non-mainframe platform. By the mid '90s, mainframe-only shops were the minority and the mixed (mainframe and distributed) environment redefined enterprise computing. Today, we can add Cloud computing to the list of varied computing environments.
User Rank: Apprentice
7/18/2012 | 9:21:01 PM
re: The Rise Of Shadow IT
IT Asset Managers are responsible for the ITAM Program's processes that bring these two parties and approaches together to ensure the most value from the organization's IT investment. The IT Asset Manager is part technologist, part business person and adept to bringing people together for strategic as well as tactical initiatives. When the executives own the ITAM Program, organizations have found amazing savings and increases in productivity. The problem mainly lies with the knowledge and interests as you pointed out and the chasm that exists between the two parties. Silos exist for a healthy purpose and but programs are needed to span those silos. ITAM is the horizontal integration of each silosG«÷ vested interests for the purpose of reaching a decision that benefits the organizationG«÷s mission. If you'd like to learn more about what ITAM is, please feel free to visit us at We've been certifying individuals worldwide for over ten years.
User Rank: Apprentice
7/18/2012 | 7:05:55 PM
re: The Rise Of Shadow IT
Very good read--thank you.

At some point, the bottom-up IT people and the top-down business people meet in the middle. Who is the translator? Someone still needs to understand both the business need of a database that does x and y, and the capabilities of the databases IT can provide within a reasonable time and for a reasonable cost. In companies that sell to "shadow IT," these people are called "sales engineers." Who is their counterpart in the IT organization? Does this go beyond business analysts? Isn't it they whose job it is to do requirements gathering and working with the PMO to get the requested service delivered in the way the organization wants it?
Multicloud Infrastructure & Application Management
Multicloud Infrastructure & Application Management
Enterprise cloud adoption has evolved to the point where hybrid public/private cloud designs and use of multiple providers is common. Who among us has mastered provisioning resources in different clouds; allocating the right resources to each application; assigning applications to the "best" cloud provider based on performance or reliability requirements.
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