What is Shadow IT?

Shadow IT is gaining in popularity these days due to the exponential growth in the use of cloud computing within organizations. What is it exactly? Shadow IT basically refers to information technology solutions and information technology projects that are managed without the knowledge of, and outside the control of the organizations IT department. Shadow IT has grown enormously in recent years, with CEB, an advisory firm, estimating that approximately 45% of all IT spending at an enterprise occurs outside the IT department. This exponential growth is partly steered by the quality of customer applications available in the cloud. Social media, collaboration tools and file sharing applications, it’s also increasingly steered by lines of business setting up company class SaaS applications. In numerous ways shadow IT is helping to make employees more productive and enterprises more competitive.

While information technology has stewardship or ownership of various cloud applications, employees are increasingly driven to go outside of IT and purchase, deploy, pay for and manage the applications they require. This sometimes happens with the blessing of top management and without IT’s participation or permission. This, in turn implies that IT cannot constantly secure and manage all of the cloud applications running across the enterprise or enforce compliance and security, as are expected and often needed by corporate and regulatory policy.

However, Shadow IT is certainly what it sounds like: business technology that bypasses IT departmental approval policy that endangers the enterprise. That is why it is also sometimes known as “Rogue IT”, or “Stealth IT”. It encompasses any solutions or systems that fall outside of a company’s standard or consent for compliance. This implies that company employees often turn to a wide array of unauthorized third party cloud solutions. Even if the company employee is not trying to cause any harm to the company, the organization is placed at risk nonetheless, due to firewalls and other defensive network devices unable to perceive these cloud solutions as a threat. The organization is exposed to new threats, vulnerabilities, and weaknesses within the corporate enterprise if Shadow IT is allowed to go unchecked.

The biggest threat is that software and hardware can be outsourced to a third party. As communications move between these unapproved devices and systems, it puts the entire enterprise at risk for hardware theft, malware and data breaches. Additionally, networks that are compromised tend to cultivate redundancy and waste. Moreover, in the absence of formal governance and compliance from IT, these outside systems and solutions divide consumer alliance between a host of applications, forcing the continuous exporting and importing of information, which unavoidably leads to data loss.

However, Stratascape Technologies (www.stratascapeit.com) can make a difference and shed light on Shadow IT. Stratascape Technologies has solutions that can highlight all of the cloud services being used within an organization, and also rank them in terms of their safety and risk to the organization. Stratascape Technologies is committed to deliver agnostic and excellent technology solutions with strategic business advantage and professional integrity.