A new study by cloud monitoring provider Opsview finds that more than two-thirds of U.K. organizations are worried about something called "cloud sprawl," which happens when employees deploy cloud computing-based applications without the involvement of their IT department. In the United States, we call these "rogue clouds," but it looks like this situation is becoming an international issue -- and reflects the same "consumerized IT" trend reflected by the invasion of personal mobile devices into the enterprise in the last 18 months.
Here's my take on this phenomenon: If IT does its job, then those at the department levels won't have to engage cloud providers to solve business problems. I think most in IT disagree with this, if my speaking engagements are any indication. However, if I were in IT and somebody told me they had to use a cloud-based product to solve a problem because they could no longer wait for IT, I would be more likely to apologize than to tell them they broke some rule. Moreover, I would follow up with guidance and learn how to use the cloud myself more effectively.
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In the rogue cloud arena, most uses of cloud computing are very tactical in nature. They might include building applications within Google App Engine to automate a commission-processing system, using a cloud-based shared-calendar system for project staffers, or using a database-as-a-service provider to drive direct marketing projects. You name it.
The threat to those in IT is more than the security issues they point to when they push back on rogue clouds. Their reaction is more likely related to the fact that they are made to look bad when those they should be serving have to go outside of the company for their solutions. Perhaps driven by embarrassment or prioritizing the assertion of control higher than helping business units succeed, the reaction of most in IT is to create or republish policies prohibiting the use of unauthorized platforms -- and perhaps knock a few heads together to make that "thou shall not" policy clear to all.
I believe a different approach is required. Those in IT should interpret cloud sprawl as an indication that they could be doing a better job in setting the path forward into the cloud. Instead of fighting the users, figure out how to leverage the cloud as a way to help employees do their jobs better, and even help the business units do so directly. It's a new concept for many of us.
This article, "Uh oh: The cloud is the new 'bring your own' tech for users," 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.