Build a Cloud Service Review Board
Like it or not, the arrival of cloud means IT isn't the only game in town anymore. It is increasingly easy for corporate denizens to simply bypass IT to get what they want. The deceit? They simply don't tell you about the services acquired.
Some 60% of 573 executives in a recent survey by business technology service provider Avanade say they worry about so-called cloud sprawl, the unauthorized acquisition of cloud services. Heck, 1 in 5 of this same group say they have "purchased a cloud service without the IT department's knowledge." No wonder they're worried.
Presumably most of these services are low-end and personal in nature, say something like Dropbox, a Web service that replicates files from a folder on your computer to other devices of your choosing and to the Dropbox website, ensuring you always have access to your stuff.
But even Dropbox raises the hackles for some IT pros. "We have particular concerns about services such as Dropbox, because there is very little stopping employees from sending confidential and proprietary information out there without our knowledge or involvement," says Steve Damadeo, IT operations manager at Festo Corp. "The explosion of cloud services has been a huge headache for our organization. Cloud storage being done without IT involvement is the biggest concern right now, more so than SaaS offerings."
Surely no one would sign up for a more critical SaaS service without IT's consent, would they?
"This can happen and is happening," the CIO of a $2 billion retail products company says privately. "We've had near misses."
He sizes it up this way: "There's no way to avoid this by rule or fiat. People can and will work around us if they feel IT is not on their side, doesn't understand, or is unresponsive or ineffective. It's incumbent on IT to maintain credibility with customers. Customer need to have a mindset that things work better, with a better outcome, when they work with us versus without us."
That said, he does have a safety valve: "If any SaaS solution needs to be integrated into the transactional flow of the business, the end users physically can't get that done without us."
If you can't beat 'em, you might as well join them. Maybe it is time to establish a cloud service review board whose job it is to field employee requests and expedite service review. That makes you proactive, keeps you in the loop, and may head off any end runs.