"Managing shadow IT is a delicate task, and how businesses police unapproved device and data use may have a substantial effect on data center security and performance. Named for the IT systems and tools used without tacit company approval, shadow IT is becoming more prominent, prolific and potentially hazardous. Only a few years ago, shadow IT had a much lower profile, with fewer options for workers and IT administrators to own devices or establish system workarounds. Today, bring-your-own-device programs, enterprise apps and the consumerization of IT push these issues to the forefront.
Shadow IT and the Data Center
Employees are already using their own devices and personal cloud services to tap into corporate data, applications and networks. If this information and these programs are stored in company data centers, it could potentially put infrastructure at risk. Additionally, employees may not use best practices for data loss prevention and information security when accessing and sharing corporate intelligence. They may also not know how to differentiate between large company ecosystems, such as cloud profiles that incorporate elements of both public and private clouds. A lack of awareness about compliance standards and how different IT components integrate can also be an issue, especially as things like virtualization and cross-platform computing become more prominent.
Another issue, as TechRepublic contributor Nick Heath pointed out, is that the increased business-criticality of data centers means that infrastructure issues will likely infringe on the activities of the most dominant group of shadow IT - IT personnel themselves. Enterprise IT experts have a history of adopting new tools and workarounds without explicit organizational approval, in order to avoid bureaucratic practices and just get things done. In most cases, this activity is conducted with security as a top priority, and in many cases, shadow IT leads to new time- and cost-saving approaches. However, not keeping records or up-to-date pictures of the infrastructure ecosystem could end up hurting the enterprise in the long run. It's crucial to work with IT staff to draft sensible policies that avoid driving shadow IT further underground, Heath said.
How Can the Cloud Help?
ZDNet contributor Aimee Chanthadavong wrote that adopting cloud-centric data center models can help organizations quell the rising tide of shadow IT. The scalability and agility the cloud offers are a natural fit for managing shadow IT. By bringing more clarity and holistic action into the data center and organization as a whole, companies can be more proactive and pragmatic about crafting and enforcing requirements for device use and application adoption."