PASTA — how to rationalize all those cloud apps

What is the Stealth Cloud?

The term “Cloud Computing” seems to have struck a chord in a way that ASP, OnDemand, SaaS and all the previous incarnations never have. Every analyst and journalist is blogging and tweeting about it, there are a slew of conferences and events, and a surprising number of books have already been published.

Consumers are Business People Too

Business people are embracing the ideas of cloud computing like never before. They can see immediate value to their business from the applications and services being offered. As the technology becomes easier to develop, there seems to be no limit to what is being provided in the cloud, much of which is packaged in a very compelling, slick user experience.

Why is it an Issue, and for Whom?

Stealth cloud computing sounds like a perfect way of reducing the IT workload and backlog of requests for systems as a form of “crowdsourcing.” Thousands of innovative entrepreneurs are providing solutions, often quite niche, to business problems at little or no cost to the business. IT departments should see cloud computing as an ally, because embracing it will make them appear far more responsive to the business; however, stealth cloud computing seems to be having the reverse effect.

What are the Risks?

The organization is exposing itself to three key risks due to the stealth cloud.

  • The second area is compliance risk. What contracts does your organization have with its customers about where data can reside. Your ISO quality and data security accreditations are based around a set of policies which should be adhered to by all staff. What contracts and security policies are your staff inadvertently breaching by using a cloud application? What are the implications on your business?
  • And third, reputational risk. If, or when, that mission cloud app in the stealth cloud goes down (which it will do at the most inopportune time) what will that do for the reputation of your company? How will it impact the relationship with your customers — in private — or in public? A company can outsource work, but can never outsource the responsibility.

What Can be Done About it?

Cloud computing cannot be ignored.

The Final Word

As the CIO, you need to sprint to get ahead of the ball through the policy, amnesty, and support phases. Only then are you in some level of control and can evaluate the true risk to the business of the stealth cloud. After that the technology and adoption phases can and will take some time.

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