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Shadow IT has been an interesting concept with regards to how IT innovates at the enterprise level. Its not a new concept, and as David Linthicum recently noted,Shadow IT might just be cloud’s best friend within the enterprise, a better and more innovative a way to gain adoption. But can it ever be given true authority, or does it have to function in the background as the name suggests?

Is Shadow IT Cloud's Way Into the Enterprise?

Shadow IT is inherently a background function as the name suggests. People often need to build applications and services that go beyond the scope of budget or strategy within large organizations. Whether people in the organization doing these projects don’t want to create a formal project, or they feel that it wouldn’t get approved under budgets, Shadow IT is a way to solve both. This provides the space for apps, products, and services to be proved out so they can gain momentum inside the company, moving beyond the realm of being shadow projects to being fully supported and adopted practices.

But does this trend highlight a flaw in the enterprise system, or is it simply highlighting the necessarily friction that accompanies innovation?

It has to be the latter, that friction creates innovation. Beyond adoption, you need the proof to get buy-in at the organizational level. But if you need to go off reservation, so to speak, to get that proof, how does the enterprise account for that? In the end, its risk versus reward. Beyond that, however, these aren’t all off-the-reservation projects either. A lot of companies institute 80/20 policies where 80% of a workers time is spent focused directly duties and 20% is a flexible “be creative/ develop something /cultivate ideas” time. While these ideas aren’t officially sponsored by the corporation, the workers delving into these new areas of innovation aren’t specifically off-reservation.

There is a lot of talk about Shadow IT with regards to cloud integration at the enterprise level. Why are cloud and Shadow IT often spoken of together?

In a way because cloud is cheap – especially in small quantity or for small projects. Cloud requires no commitment, which means if a project is halted, a business unit can easily turn off their associated cloud. If the organization catches wind of a non-sanctioned project, because its not worth supporting or is not showing promise, it can easily be stopped in the cloud at minimal cost. It gives a lot of flexibility for experimentation.

Being in cloud also means access to an incredible amount of scalability, so if the person in the organization finds the innovation is positively trending, they can grow it without doing much more work. An added benefit is that if the project is going well, and has been accepted for its proof of success, the maintenance cost associated with keeping it on the cloud platform it was grown in may actually be cost saving compared to moving it within the enterprises proprietary infrastructure.

Why the conversation around Shadow IT? Is it a true driver of cloud integration at the enterprise level?

There seems to be a disconnect between the enterprise and cloud, even as conceptual entities. The enterprise can certainly use cloud, but it also never fully embraces it. Meanwhile, an SMB might use the cloud for its entire infrastructure, as comparison.

The context here is that a lot of new projects are good for cloud. The enterprise isn’t throwing its full weight behind cloud because it doesn’t need to. Are all the legacy apps going to work in cloud? No. Can a Fortune 500 company run its billing software, which may be based on an antiquated version of SCO run on cloud? Absolutely not. But as newer projects develop in the enterprise, be they Shadow projects or sanctioned efforts, cloud does make a lot of sense going forward. That effect drives a lot of Shadow IT involvement in the enterprise, contributing to the adoption of cloud.

Source : Logicworks

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