Reclaiming Rogue IT Workloads from the Cloud

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Organizationally, proactive IT organizations may also need to think about collapsing the walls between application support teams, network teams, server teams and storage teams.

Define the data that’s core, or strategic, to the organization and that which isn’t.

Core data and workloads tend to need tighter security, compliance and SLAs surrounding their use. This is especially true for regulated or sensitive customer data.  While it might be a good idea to use external cloud services as part of a new innovation effort, save the use of cloud services to data that’s not strategic or core to the organization. This  may include services like messaging or initiatives that are in the conceptual, pre-production phase.

Look at the types of cloud services your users have deployed.

If they are using virtual machines from Amazon or collaborative, cloud storage from Dropbox, ask yourself if your own internal IT organization should deliver something like it as an internal service?

Start looking for ways to broker cloud services.

This point speaks to the last subheading: If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em. For those who believe external cloud services are the best option, look for ways to loosely direct and broker the types of external providers in use.

Expansion, contraction and a rogue by any other name

While the name of rogue IT may be a new one, along with its public cloud context, similar practices have been around since before the rise of the World Wide Web. Whether you call it rogue IT, shadow IT, BlackOps, shadow operations, or the consumerization of IT, you can find examples of the same corporate behaviors peppered throughout.

Take the early days of distributed client/server architectures. Then, it was common for isolated departmental IT silos to be created to meet the needs of a key business unit. Eventually, many such moves contributed to server expansion and proliferation, as well as the later need to reign in many such now-inefficient IT silos of servers and storage. Most would ultimately be replaced by centralized IT systems and the use of virtual servers. (Following our own Five-Stage Cloud Maturity Model, we’ve seen these environments evolve into virtual data centers (VDCs) and early private cloud architectures.)

But, notice for a moment how the IT architectures first expanded, then contracted during this period? Business units struggled to meet their own specific IT needs (through distributed expansion) just as the IT organization later struggled to more efficiently manage such IT resources (ultimately, by centralization and contraction).

Today, business users are expanding out of the confines of traditional IT once again. Organizations now face another period of distributed IT expansion, this time with public cloud services and the age of the Internet.

Dealing with cloud silos

Is this new cloud expansion era likely to create its own form of distributed silos, albeit on a larger, cloud scale? You bet! Will these require a similar countermove by corporate IT toward centralization at some point in the future? Yes.

We are on the cusp of another era: The age of hybrid cloud. Here, IT organizations effectively broker and manage cloud services -- whether those services come from within or from external providers.

To achieve its own successful end goal, IT needs to learn to embrace change on many fronts: from technologies to organizational processes and people. Addressed proactively, rogue IT doesn’t have to lead to IT’s destruction. Instead, it can mean a realignment to business priorities. It can also mean transformation that brings the IT organization closer to its new role: That of innovator.

About the author:

Kent Christensen is practice director for cloud and virtual data centers at Datalink.

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