I’ve Got Sunshine on a Cloudy Day!

By on Feb 25, 2013

Cloud services, or Cloud in short, enable a massive disruption of the IT industry because they fundamentally change the economics and velocity of innovation. As such Cloud enables fundamental transformations in almost every field of human endeavor that can benefit from innovation and from information – I say “almost every field” only out of laziness because even though I can’t think of any field that will remain untouched by Cloud I haven’t done enough research to be more definitive. By the way, when I say Cloud I include private and public clouds, Infrastructure as a Service, Platform as a Service, and Software as a Service.

Some analysts speak of the likely impact of Cloud to rival that of the PC more than 25 years ago. They point out that besides its huge impact, Cloud is also a key enabler for many of the major trends in the IT industry: mobile, big data, and social networking. I agree with that assessment. For example, my mobile phone is not interesting without its ability to connect me and my apps on the phone to cloud services in the “back end”.

So if Cloud is all that interesting then why aren’t companies big and small all over it, starting new Cloud initiatives, leveraging Cloud for fun and profit? The short answer is that they are. New cloud services are being launched every day from startups and from established players. And contrary to common wisdom that the lack of security and privacy is holding companies back from adopting Cloud, employees are subscribing to and using cloud services at a torrid pace. In some Fortune 1000 companies the number of cloud services in use by employees is more than 1,000, and the average is more than 300! This number will come as a surprise to many and perhaps most to the IT and information security and security operations teams of these companies who, when polled, thought that the average number of cloud services in use was 30! I guess it is more accurate to say that the lack of security and privacy is holding IT departments back from adopting or approving the adoption of Cloud!

You thought 30 and in reality it is 300 – that is a stark definition of “Shadow IT”. If you look at the potential upside of Cloud: changing the economics and velocity of innovation and positive transformation, and juxtapose that with the potential downside: Shadow IT that is unmanaged, uncontrolled, and fraught with security, privacy, compliance, and governance risk, it is no wonder that Cloud is the top priority of CIOs. To go from “Shadow IT” to enterprise Cloud (where Cloud is a strategic asset of the enterprise) every organization, and in particular the IT department in every organization, has to bring Cloud adoption and use under control. And they have to become enablers helping the organization safely leverage Cloud. But they have to do it without any friction to the employees who otherwise will keep evading IT controls and perpetuating Shadow IT.

So how does IT deliver on this apparent oxymoron of “control without friction”? How does IT go from being in the dark about Cloud adoption to being the partner that the business needs to safely leverage the innovation enabled by Cloud? Or as Brian Lillie, the CIO of Equinix says, how does the CIO to go from being CI”No” to being the Chief Enabler? We think these are some of the most pressing questions confronting the IT industry today.

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