Shadow IT: is it a threat, a cure or both?

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Steve Wexler, who writes the excellent IT Trends & Analysis blog posted yesterday on the topic of shadow IT (aka ‘cockroach IT’). We’d like to share excerpts from the blog that feature the perspectives of our president Ennio Carboni. But you should definitely check out the entire blog too for interesting perspectives and statistics from industry leaders like Cisco and Symantec.

Image39From Steve’s blog:

According to a PwC survey, 50% of IT managers admit that half of their budget is wasted on managing Shadow IT (the unsanctioned use of IT products and services), said Ennio Carboni, President, Ipswitch, Inc. [network management division]. The ‘inability to track, manage and eliminate unapproved software and devices drastically eats bandwidth, slows networks and increases the IT financial/resource burden.’ Gartner says by 2020 90% of IT budgets will be controlled outside of IT and Forrester says IT could be obsolete by then.

However, Carboni said he doesn’t consider Shadow IT as much a problem as a business opportunity for IT. One of the disciplines he’s been able to keep alive is to cold call customers every week, and he speaks to hundreds every month. “Shadow IT is a real trend… (and) I’m a Shadow ITer.”

Carboni said the reason why Shadow IT is growing is because the IT process today for most companies is wrong. Rather than the budgeting approach we’ve been using for the last 20-30 years, organizations should ask what approach do we need that would enable our employees to be more efficient and effective. “I actually view this trend as a positive one, the consumerization of IT.”

In general, IT needs to embrace Shadow IT and become a positive force for standardization through listening, he said. “It’s very inexpensive and very easy for employee to go out there and take on a SaaS-based solution for a short time. Instead of having CISOs appear as a version of big brother, they heed to work on enabling the workforce to bring their own devices and managing the risks.


“After speaking with hundreds of customers, I believe security will go extreme, it will fail… and then we will have more reasonable and progressive policies”. He believes it will evolve like virtualisation, becoming much more proactive and with greater accountability.

Ipswitch offers four steps for minimizing the impact of shadow IT:

  • Flagging unauthorized apps before they cause problems;
  • Perfecting visibility into network bandwidth utilization
  • Monitoring for rogue devices – who is accessing what, when and via what device; and,
  • Identifying root causes of outages and slowdowns faster and speeding time to resolution.


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