Why CIOs should encourage rogue clouds

Though most CIOs hate the idea of their users moving to cloud computing without IT, there's a case for letting them experiment

CIOs hate rogue clouds -- at least that's the impression I get when I'm called into enterprises to look at the number of Dropbox, Google, and Amazon Web Services implementations existing off the books of IT. The CIOs are mad: They want those cloud services gone and the perpetrators punished.

Indeed, Gartner predicts that "in less than three years, 35 percent of enterprise IT expenditures will happen outside of the corporate IT budget. Employees will regularly subscribe to collaboration, analytic, and other cloud services they want, all with the press of a button. Others will simply build their own applications using readily available cloud-based tools and development platforms."

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I suspect that such outside-of-IT tech expenditures amount to less than 1 percent now, so we have a great deal of rogue clouding to do to achieve Gartner's prediction. But there's enough already happening to scare CIOs, with many pushing back and enacting new polices against the use of outside cloud services without IT supervision.

However, there's a set of upsides to this rogue practice that CIOs should be careful not to hinder, namely:

  • The ability to get users excited by the use of cloud-based resources. Most of them don't understand what cloud computing is, what it does, and how they can benefit.
  • The ability to better understand the true requirements of the business. Those who use cloud technology off the books are doing so because they have requirements that IT does not meet. Such usage pretty much defines those unmet requirements for IT.
  • The ability to gather more data on cloud technology by seeing what's used in shadow IT. The information from those who use cloud technology will help CIOs determine what their strategic cloud direction should be.

Of course, most CIOs also understand and are quick to point out the downsides, such as security issues, the loss of key insight lost when activities are not monitored, and the risks such rogue systems create around business continuity. However, the upsides far outweigh the downsides, and CIOs need to understand that more than anything.

This article, "Why CIOs should encourage rogue clouds," 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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