Stop Stealth Cloud In Its Tracks

Businesses are failing to deliver the right mix of workplace IT services to their employees, which is fuelling a generation of maverick cloud users. Recent research by Computacenter has revealed that 8 out of 10 employees are signing up to consumer cloud solutions, such as DropBox and SkyDrive, to fill the gap in corporate IT.

Stealth cloud is a major issue for organisations. Consumer cloud solutions are easy to access, simple to use and facilitate remote working. Given these attributes, it’s hardly surprising that nearly two-thirds of British workers want their day-to-day software provisioned via the cloud – and are prepared to take matters into their own hands if they don’t get it.

This maverick approach has major security implications. The second an employee stores files and data on a cloud consumer platform, IT managers lose visibility and control. This could result in potentially confidential information and intellectual property being exposed to security threats and breaches.

According to the survey, 64 per cent of IT professionals are worried about the compliance, security and management implications surrounding such self-service cloud tools.

Bring clarity to cloud

Accessing IT resources – whether it’s software, storage or compute capacity – via the cloud, however, doesn’t have to be a management and security headache given the right governance framework. Organisations need to find a way to amalgamate cloud-based solutions with traditional IT sourcing models, or they could miss out on financial, productivity and agility benefits.

As cloud becomes more widely adopted, organisations need to ensure they have the right processes and policies in place to govern consumption across multiple platforms and providers. With 85 per cent of organisations expecting to expand their datacenter capacity through the use of cloud solutions in the next five years, centralised visibility and control is going to become increasingly important for the IT department.

Nearly 80 per cent of IT professionals said that access to a unified management dashboard for cloud consumption would help prevent cloud sprawl in the future.

Understand users’ IT needs

As well as ensuring it can effectively govern cloud utilisation and costs, IT directors need to address the root cause of stealth adoption by users – a mismatch between employee requirements and the workplace IT portfolio.

Organisations are failing to keep up with the evolving needs of different user communities. They need to invest time and resources in understanding existing and emerging workstyles, and the impact of new technologies and trends, such as bring your own device, collaboration and virtualisation.

For example, Forrester cites that: “IT managers traditionally segment their workforce into three rudimentary profiles: task workers, information workers and power users. However these categories aren’t granular enough to successfully map to client virtualisation strategies”.

To effectively evaluate different workstyles, organisations need to consider a range of factors, including:

  • Job function
  • Information and application access requirements
  • Internal and external interactions
  • Value of transactions
  • Risk exposure
  • Work locations.

Maximise the return, minimise the risk

Understanding these attributes will help organisations ensure they offer the right workplace IT services to employees, which will help prevent covert cloud utilisation.

Paul joined Computacenter in 1999 and has 25 years experience in the IT industry. Having worked in the Financial Services sector on both UNIX and Mainframe platforms in operational and systems programming roles. Since joining Computacenter in a consultancy role, Paul has held various positions , including virtualisation Technology Leader, Practice Leader for Datacentre Server Platforms, Virtualisation and Automation prior to taking up his current role in 2011. He currently has responsibility for cloud computing and as the Senior Practice Leader working for the UK solutions business.