While the notion of Bring Your Own Cloud (BYOC) may seem a bit far-fetched, Shadow IT, where users essentially bring unauthorized cloud services into business environments, has become an increasing corporate concern as highlighted in a recent CFO.com article. The risk of Shadow IT is that it compromises IT’s ability to maintain a standardized infrastructure across employees and business units, opening the door to potential security and reliability issues. In spite of this, there is a benefit in analyzing Shadow IT to understand why users adopt non-standard processes and what benefits existing IT could not deliver. It often pays to examine how employees creatively accomplish their goals in constrained environments and figure out how to accommodate those employees in a supportable fashion.
Shadow IT is not just limited to cloud. In a close parallel, many IT organizations that once outlawed all but one “approved” mobile device to access corporate accounts and email have loosened restrictions on accommodating multiple devices, moving closer to a BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) model. While pundits argue BYOD might transform IT into the “Wild West,” many organizations are finding a middle ground that offers users a selection of approved mobile devices for corporate access. With a standard set of security and reliability policies, users and business units gain the flexibility to meet their needs and optimize costs without having to consider Shadow IT.
So will trends toward BYOD now spawn a movement toward BYOC? Well, cloud solutions naturally require policies to protect data security and integrity and not all cloud solutions are suitable for enterprise use. In fact, it’s best to be wary of consumer-oriented solutions. On the other hand, the adoption of cloud solutions by many businesses emphasizes the immediate benefits they offer, including:
- Faster provisioning of resources. Traditional IT requests may take days or weeks to service due to competing priorities or delays in procurement and deployment.
- Overcoming capital spending limits. Subscription and pay-per-use models enable access to resources on an ongoing basis, avoiding capital spending limits and often falling under a separate opex budget
- Meeting variable resource demands. Demand for IT resources may change weekly, monthly or seasonally, calling for dynamic and elastic resource management often out of the realm of IT’s static processes
With these benefits in mind, how can businesses rationalize cloud solutions so that they meet corporate security, control and reliability requirements and avoid inhibiting the capabilities of their users? In the data storage realm, the answer can be found in cloud storage gateway products like CloudArray, offering choices across many supported public, private and hybrid cloud storage solutions with a set of overarching policies that meet corporate requirements for security, control, vendor lock prevention and reliability. With these solutions, users or business units have virtually all the cloud choices, options and policies they need to optimize their data storage deployments.
While BYOC is an unlikely IT initiative in the near term, businesses can benefit greatly today from standardizing on a set of efficient cloud options that deliver new levels of IT flexibility.