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Is Rogue IT Really A Problem?

Rogue IT may be a misnomer for the subtleties of IT security's involvement in cloud procurement.

As much as security vendors and others promote the idea of there being a massive problem of rogue IT in the enterprise, analysts with CompTIA argue that the way most organizations procure their cloud services is anything but rogue.

"Rogue IT has been a big topic, but in our data we don't see that many companies that have a line of business that's trying to avoid the IT department completely," says Seth Robinson, senior director of technology analysis at CompTIA and principal author of a report published recently that supports his argument, the "5th Annual Trends in Cloud Computing."

The report showed that between 18% and 36% of cloud applications are purchased by line-of-business buyers. However, only 12% of companies report that these buyers don't consult with the IT department at all or allow them to give final approval on cloud purchases. What's more, that number is going down.

Not only are most line of businesses not really trying to circumvent IT, but generally the line-of-business practice of directly subscribing to cloud services is approved and encouraged by the upper echelons of management if it'll help the bottom line. That doesn't mean there aren't security issues around cloud procurement, just that the discussion might need to be reframed. "Rogue" implies negative connotations for an already approved behavior, when the practice could be more accurately described as decentralization. It may seem like a trivial matter of semantics, but just the use of a negative word to describe line-of-business' involvement in buying cloud belies the typical cloud buyer's intention when it comes to involving IT security in the process.

According to Robinson, most enterprises have already learned from early cloud purchase mistakes and their line-of-business leaders actually crave some kind of IT involvement in the process.

"What's happened in fairly short order is that when the line-of-business didn't inform IT of what they were doing, they would run into integration or security issues," he says, explaining that companies have increasingly learned that these are IT issues and require IT input. "Companies are starting to realize that you have to have the IT team there because they've got some specialized knowledge and experience and know what to look out for."

For example, says Robinson, line-of-business leaders know they need to evaluate vendors based on security but also realize that they don't have the knowledge to ask the depth of questions necessary to truly look out for pitfalls.

The question, of course, is whether security and IT operations staff really willing to meet line-of-business partners halfway when designing cloud procurement and governance guidelines that make sense. According to CompTIA, most line-of-business departments and managers seem to actively look to IT for consultation and help in buying the best cloud solutions for their business needs. But the same doesn't seem to be true in reverse. A survey out today by the Cloud Service Alliance and Skyhigh Networks shows that among the 35% of enterprises that have a cloud governance committee, fewer than half contain representatives from lines of business.

Ericka Chickowski specializes in coverage of information technology and business innovation. She has focused on information security for the better part of a decade and regularly writes about the security industry as a contributor to Dark Reading.  View Full Bio

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User Rank: Apprentice
11/18/2014 | 7:21:11 AM
IT is not always right ..

Per your comment -

""line-of-business leaders know they need to evaluate vendors based on security but also realize that they don't have the knowledge to ask the depth of questions necessary to truly look out for pitfalls"

What happens when the IT department does not have the knowledge to ask the right questions either? This could lead to a disjointed cloud service being purchased that cannot be supported by the either the LOB or IT organization. When this happens, then the LOB would be forced to find alternatives to help support their cloud services which were purchased outside of the IT department.

I realize that many LOB's utilize cloud services outside of IT organizations line of sight. I for one am not a advocate of this type of IT strategy, as it tends to create more problems in the long term than it solves.
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