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Transforming Shadow IT Into Next-Gen IT

IDC forecasts that by 2018, 70% of infrastructure hardware and software spend will target new systems and legacy system modernization in support of digital transformation  initiatives. The only problem with this exciting scenario is that IT teams often aren't leading the charge. In fact, a Cisco study revealed that at the average enterprise, 80% of end users rely on software that has not been approved by IT. And a Logicalis Global CIO Survey found that 90%of lines-of-business (LOBs) are actually bypassing IT departments and utilizing cloud services to get their job done, otherwise known as "shadow IT."

As CMOs, chief digital officers (CDOs) and LOBs increasingly take advantage of on-demand, external services to support digital transformation initiatives, IT leaders are gradually losing control. But the news is not all bad. IT organizations can reassert their role in transformation efforts by becoming champions of “next-gen IT.”  

In order to develop an effective next-gen IT strategy, IT leaders should start by examining the link between the acceleration of digital transformation and shadow IT. Since core transformation challenges are speed, agility and scale, IT organizations need to offer key stakeholders services that address these needs. Much like a well-balanced financial portfolio, IT can meet needs for speed, agility and scale by holding a mixture of low risk/low yield assets, such as on-premises and private cloud infrastructure, along with high-yield/higher-risk assets such as the public cloud. The public cloud can offer virtually unlimited on-demand elasticity in infrastructure, platform and service capacity, as well as pay-as-you-go cost models with no capital expenditures.

The financial services analogy holds true when it comes to IT governance as well. Letting multiple financial institutions manage your portfolio would be wholly inefficient while also opening the door to potential conflicts of interest. By the same token, would you allow public cloud providers to manage your services without at the very least supervising them? This is why IT leaders need to implement a governance, risk management and compliance (GRC) strategy that focuses on business assurance.

True business assurance means being able to ensure business services can be rolled out smoothly and will meet the needs and expectations of end users. It also means being able to continuously monitor and measure the performance of services and infrastructure to identify potential problems and allow for the planning of new services, and the ability to rapidly pinpoint and resolve any issues before they impact the business.

An effective GRC strategy can turn IT into a viable internal service provider, serving as a central point that looks at the big picture and determines what makes the most sense for the organization as a whole from a business assurance perspective. IT must also incorporate foundational technologies and innovation into their environment based on the business models, applications, and services needed for the business to succeed. One of the keys to overseeing the entire infrastructure is gaining complete visibility and transparency into every action and transaction that traverses the network.

By establishing policies and processes that encompass both corporate and shadow IT, including the growing BYOD trend, IT teams can leverage business assurance to monitor and enforce their governance model.

Moreover, an effective governance model that focuses on business assurance can mitigate critical risks associated with shadow IT. These risks might include unauthorized communications with third parties, which can lead to reduced corporate cyber resilience, loss of productivity and damage to customer satisfaction resulting from users attempting to resolve their own issues, as well as potential loss of business due to unplanned outages. Additional risks could involve wasteful IT investments resulting from a lack of central purchasing, and a growing divide between IT and the business with each pulling the other in the wrong direction.

As more and more organizations embrace digital transformation as an essential strategy for staying competitive, IT organizations have an opportunity to leverage their unique perspective on the end-to-end requirements of the business and provide support beyond traditional IT services. By implementing cohesive next-gen IT, IT teams can become essential facilitators of true business speed, agility and scale, which are critical success factors in the new digital era.

As area vice president of strategic marketing at NETSCOUT, Michael Segal is responsible for market research, enterprise solutions marketing, analyst relations, customer advocacy, analyst relations, advertising, and social marketing. Michael’s product management experience spans across ten years at Cisco Systems, where he managed all aspects of product line lifecycles for several successful product lines. Michael's technical areas of expertise include SaaS/cloud, virtualization, mobile IP, security, IP networking, Wi-Fi/wireless, VoIP, and remote access. Michael holds patents in areas of networking and wireless mobility.