How cloud computing can strengthen IT's control

The use of service catalogs can let IT regain control while serving users' fast-paced technology needs

The rise of cloud computing means that many enterprise IT resources have moved out of IT's control. Indeed, many people went directly to Amazon Web Services, Google, or Microsoft for IT services, bypassing IT altogether.

IT leaders have no one to blame but themselves for this shift. Although there are certainly very responsive IT organizations, many more have not provided solutions at the speed the business needs. When the cloud arose, users took the initiative and solved their own problems. I can't blame them.

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Ironically, as organizations use more and more cloud resources, IT has a new way to reassert itself, even if users continue to get their own services. That way is the service catalog, a collection of public cloud and local services stored in a huge registry, much like in the days of SOA. These services are tracked in terms of who can use them and how they use them, and the service catalogs become the single jumping-off point for building and deploying applications that use public cloud services, as well as traditional systems.

IT can bring order to chaos, while still providing the benefits of flexibility and immediacy that got users to go to the cloud in the first place.

There are many providers of service catalogs, including CSC, Dell, EMC VMware, and IBM. In some cases, these service catalogs are stand-alone. In many instances, they are part of a resource governance system or cloud management platform (CMP). Although they take different approaches, common patterns are beginning to emerge.

With service catalogs, IT is slowly taking back the role as a service broker, now called a "cloud service broker." Because IT controls the cloud services catalog, it can exert a bigger influence on the services provided and how they are managed, secured, and used. As a result, IT could actually exercise greater control because of the arrival of cloud computing, not less.

Of course, if there's too much control, users can continue to work around IT by going directly to the public cloud providers. Sometimes, corporate compliance and security policies will prevent such moves. But a more likely -- and better -- way to avoid shadow cloud usage is for IT to manage the cloud service catalog as the path of least resistance, so users don't feel the need to look elsewhere.

This article, "How cloud computing can strengthen IT's control," originally appeared at InfoWorld.com. Read more of David Linthicum's Cloud Computing blog and track the latest developments in cloud computing at InfoWorld.com. For the latest business technology news, follow InfoWorld.com on Twitter.

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