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IT Customers are Going Rogue in the Cloud

This post was written as part of the IBM for Midsize Business program, which provides midsize businesses with the tools, expertise and solutions they need to become engines of a smarter planet.

IT customers are going rogue, say industry observers. Business units and individual employees — IT's customers within the firm — are striking their own deals for cloud access without waiting for IT assistance, or even letting them know about their arrangements.

This has been a developing trend for some time, but it is now accelerating. A new generation of consumerized offerings makes cloud adoption fast and easy, and many business units are quick to make use of cloud convenience. To respond effectively to this challenge, midsize IT can't "just say no." They must also be able to say "yes."

As Close as the Local Drive

Gartner Research Analyst Lydia Leong underscored the movement, characterizing it as "a tug-of-war tension in the enterprise right now," InfoWorld reports. "The people who are pushing for these services are not IT operations people but business people," Leong said.

Independent Analyst Jeff Kagan notes some of the cultural factors involved. People are accustomed to storing data on their personal devices, and storing data on a cloud-based "drive" hardly seems different. The bring-your-own-device (BYOD) trend has further encouraged a freewheeling attitude among employees.

In short, IT customers are going rogue because they can, because it is convenient, and because a professional culture that already facilitates personal devices is expected to be equally accommodating of personal storage.

Midsize IT and the Rogue Challenge

The discussion focuses primarily on enterprise IT, but in an era of consumerized cloud computing, midsize IT faces similar challenges. Only large business units can set up their own "shadow IT" operations, but smaller working groups and individuals can establish personal cloud services in just a few clicks.

For midsize IT, this trend poses a practical challenge, because what is quick and convenient to set up alone is probably not compliant with data management and security policies. And at a time when data's growing importance makes avoiding the siloing of data important, rogue cloud access poses the risk of creating new silos.

Best of Both Worlds

IT managers and professionals at midsize firms need to make this important point, rather than resist self-service cloud access as a threat to data's security. Ideally, however, midsize IT should also be able to accommodate employee choices: By defining a cloud policy that end users can understand and use without jumping through excessive hoops, businesses can provide the best of both worlds.

This article was written by Rick Robinson.

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