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11/17/2016
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Cloud-driven IT Decentralization Increases Security Risk

IT management has become increasingly decentralized, which many businesses think is causing more harm than good - especially for security, a new study says.

IT management has become increasingly decentralized in the last three years, and businesses are struggling to address it. Many believe tech departments aren't ready to face this trend, which they believe will increase enterprise security risk.

These findings come from new cloud research on IT management, commissioned by VMWare and conducted by Vanson Bourne. Researchers expanded on a previous VMWare-sponsored study by The Economist Intelligence Unit, which focused on decentralization of enterprise tech.

As part of the Vanson Bourne study, researchers polled 3,300 people in August and September 2016. Respondents represented 20 industries and came from 20 countries across the Americas (24%), Asia-Pacific (39%), and EMEA (36%). 

Half of respondents were decision makers in their organization's IT department, said Chloe Byrne, project manager at Vanson Bourne. The other half are "business decision makers" from departments including business direction and strategy, engineering, finance, and operations.

The majority (69%) of respondents agree that IT management has continued to decentralize in the past three years, but most don't view this as a positive change. Nearly as many (65%) want IT to be more centralized. 

The decentralization trend is being driven by cloud computing, said Byrne. The cloud enables lines of business to purchase their own cloud IT more easily. Many are buying "IT as a service" to drive innovation.

This has both positive and negative effects on organizations. Respondents say decentralization is doing more harm than good, especially with respect to security.

Fifty-seven percent agree it has led to purchasing non-secure solutions, and 60% say it has resulted in apps being developed outside of corporate or government regulations. More than half (56%) say it has led to a lack of regulatory compliance for data protection. 

"[Decentralization] causes a lack of awareness of overall company-wide spend on IT, and even means that there will be duplication of cost where different departments could be purchasing the same thing," Byrne explained.

More than half (58%) of respondents claim decentralization has created a lack of clear ownership and responsibility for IT. Financially, it's causing an average increase of 5.7% on tech spending across organizations.

More than 60% of respondents claim decentralization is creating a duplication of IT spending across the organization, and 57% say it's driving a lack of awareness regarding how much money is spent on IT throughout the business.

"It can also make the IT department's job more challenging, increasing the stress on IT personnel and resources as they will still need to ensure security and compliance for their organization's data, not necessarily knowing where it is," said Byrne.

However, decentralization could also present new opportunities to the enterprise, she noted. It enables organizations to innovate more quickly, accelerate the development of new products and services, increase responsiveness to market changes, and drive employee satisfaction.

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Kelly Sheridan is Associate Editor at Dark Reading. She started her career in business tech journalism at Insurance & Technology and most recently reported for InformationWeek, where she covered Microsoft and business IT. Sheridan earned her BA at Villanova University. View Full Bio

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