The rise of Shadow IT didn’t happen with the rise of cloud computing…

As a software architect I enjoy the requirements mapping process using a Venn diagram. It puts the requirements into buckets that people can understand. It also allows me, as the architect to clarify what it really is that people need in a solution. What we would love to have, what we have today and the reality of what we can afford, the intersection of those three being a new solution (or an upgraded existing solution). clip_image002

The point where these three intersect is a solution. The point at which they are furthest away from each other is a roadmap. Where you balance what you think you will need against what you think your overall budget will be.

Over the years I have worked with customers that just said we will build it ourselves, its cheaper. In the end for some things that are unique to an organization building it yourself is the best option. For most things however, that creates a problem. The more common the functionality is, the better off your organization is buying it from someone else. Why build an office productivity suite when you can buy one from Microsoft or use Open Office (which continues to improve). It becomes an organizational balancing act.

As organizations move to the cloud they then also embrace a different way of operating the solution that they have. Their organization Venn diagram shifts. I won’t bore you with that diagram except to say it is part of my upcoming book on Cloud Operations. (as is the cool name for this process GovOps©).

What I find is that many organizations are struggling with cloud today. They won’t be in three or four years but they are now. It is as much as shift in operations as anything else. Many companies end up with a shadow IT organization. The blame for shadow IT is often cloud computing solutions. The reality of Shadow IT is that it was created many years ago. Large software companies often sold to departments rather than the central IT organization. Lotus Domino, back in the Lotus Notes days was sold directly to department not central IT. Lotus Notes as a product was radically changed to support a non-central distrusted organization (the server certificates of the Note servers was created to support a distributed non-centralized deployment model).

So Shadow IT orgs aren’t because of cloud. Although cloud vendors definitely support shadow IT operations. It does present many interesting questions as we embark on this journey. The race to cloud computing will be interesting. We are past the tipping point but still haven’t embraced cloud first, cloud only. Cloud first, cloud only is the next tier for organizations. When we get there, it won’t be as much shadow IT running cloud. It will just be cloud.


.Not, mind you that in and of itself shadow IT is bad. Nor is it th3e wrong direction. The reality of shadow IT is that it is focused on a small portion of what is the enterprise. The scope, vision and ultimately understanding of overall direction need and cost isn’t there. Saving $2 for a department is enough in many cases. Even though that may leave $1000 on the table in lost savings for the organization. It become an IT juggling act. How do we move the organizational capabilities forward, embrace and consume Shadow IT resources and still build and maintain central solutions that benefit the organization as a whole.

The resulting Venn diagram is very interesting.

More to come!


Shadow IT warrior!~