Enterprise CIOs: Have you met your ‘shadow IT’ department yet?

Thomas Roloff EMC Lisa Larson Rackspace Hosting Structure 2012

(L to R) Thomas Roloff, COO, EMC; Lisa Larson, VP, Enterprise Technical Sales, Rackspace Hosting
(c)2012 Pinar Ozger [email protected]

Enterprise CIOs may not think their company is making use of the public cloud. But, little do they know, their business colleagues may already be leaning on a “shadow IT” department supplied by outside service providers.
At GigaOM Structure Thursday in San Francisco, Thomas Roloff, COO of EMC Corporation (s emc), said that when he asks enterprise CIOs how much of the public cloud they think they have today, too many will say they don’t have any. But Lisa Larson, VP of enterprise technical sales for Rackspace (s rax), added that the business units in those companies are likely working with companies such Rackspace to get the services they need through “rogue” or “shadow” IT support.
“The public cloud is the shadow IT to the CIO,” said Roloff. “He doesn’t know it’s out there.”
The disconnect highlights tensions between the business and IT units as more companies migrate to the public cloud. IT professionals are concerned with security, compliance, cost and functionality, while their business counterparts want to move quickly to take advantage of data and analytics.
Historically, Roloff said, IT departments have been able to move at their own pace, but as business units see strategic advantages in using data more quickly, the two groups find themselves at odds.
“The IT side is saying ‘I need control and need to manage it correctly,’” he said. “The business side [is saying], ‘I need speed and agility and you’re not getting that for me.’”
Larson said that when companies to come to Rackspace, they try to broker a conversation between the two sides to create a common vision that accomplishes the goals of the company.  The key, she said, is that the CIO needs to recognize that IT needs to transform to meet the business needs of the company, but the business units need to understand that not all applications are fit for the cloud.
Even though many CIOs are surprised to learn how much of the public cloud they already use, Roloff said the realization can be a tipping point.
“It creates a connection,” he said. “It makes him, all of a sudden, realize that it’s acually been working and it’s not as scary as he might think. It opens up the conversation to say that it’s much more possible than you might have thought.”
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