Cisco's 'Cloud Consumption as a Service'
Finding out who has gone rogue on your network.
- By Dan Kusnetzky
Cisco and many other suppliers are hoping to help enterprises become aware of and gain control of "shadow IT" operating in the organization. To this end, Cisco just announced Cloud Consumption as a Service.
Cisco describes this new service: "The software discovers and continually monitors cloud usage across an organization and helps organizations reduce cloud risks and costs. It also delivers detailed analysis and benchmarking that helps the IT team proactively manage cloud usage across the organization."
Individuals, departments and, in many cases, entire business units are going around the enterprise IT department to deploy cloud-based services such as email, file repositories and customer relationship management tools; and in some cases, even complete platform as a service or infrastructure as a service offerings. Cisco cites a recent in-house analysis which showed "the average large enterprise now uses 1,220 individual cloud services. That's up to 25 times more than estimated by IT. And the average number of cloud service has grown 112 percent over the past year, and 67 percent over the past six month."
End Runs Around IT
While one could argue that Cisco's research may or may not reflect the trend in the market as a whole, shadow IT has been a concern of large and medium enterprises for quite some time.
The new Cisco Cloud Consumption as a Service is now available globally via qualified Cisco channel partners. The new service costs approximately $1.00 - $2.00 dollars per employee per month, depending on the size of the business. Cisco is currently offering a free 30-day trial for customers.
Enterprises feel that they are under attack on the Internet. Many players are trying to find a way to get a toehold inside the firewall so that confidential and personal information can be stolen. Enterprise IT, in its efforts to protect the company and its information, wants to know about each cloud service in use and protect the information and credentials in use.
More of a Hindrance Than a Help
But individuals, departments and even business units don't always buy into the restrictive approach used by enterprise IT. This is understandable, since they're measured by the revenue and sales they produce, the products they build or the services they offer; not the security and integrity of enterprise IT. Many see IT as a hindrance rather than as a partner.
When something takes too long to accomplish, or if enterprise IT simply says "no" to something these groups believe they need, they can go to a service provider, sign up for a service offering that provides the needed application or service, and pay using a personal credit card.
Sales units, for example, can have a cloud-based CRM solution up in hours. The same can be done for group Web sites, group project management, group file repositories and many other tools. IT is not involved.
Dan's Take: Shining a Light on Shadow IT
These groups don't always understand enterprise guidelines for the creation and use of these cloud-based services. Furthermore, they often neither understand nor agree with restrictions that they see as getting in the way of them doing business they way they'd like.
Cisco isn't the only company offering a service of this type. Dell and IBM announced somewhat similar service offerings a while ago. This service, however, will be of great interest to Cisco customers.
Daniel Kusnetzky, a reformed software engineer and product manager, founded Kusnetzky Group LLC in 2006. He's literally written the book on virtualization and often comments on cloud computing, mobility and systems software. He has been a business unit manager at a hardware company and head of corporate marketing and strategy at a software company.