Tuesday, 10 March 2015 22:33

Cloud casts a shadow over IT in Australia, NZ Featured

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Image courtesy of rakratchada torsap, freedigitalphotos.net/images Image courtesy of rakratchada torsap, freedigitalphotos.net/images

The dark, hidden world of Shadow IT where IT systems and solutions are often built and used within organisation’s without explicit approval of the organisation, including IT management, is becoming more prevalent in Australia and New Zealand as cloud adoption picks up.

According to the Cloud Adoption Index for the ANZ region from open source vendor Red Hat, while cloud has support throughout organisations, with CEO and board support at 46%, “paradoxically, only 13.3% of organisations are using Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS), Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS), or Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) with full senior management approval”.

According to Red Hat regional vice president and general manager of Australia and New Zealand, Max McLaren, organisations using cloud technologies without senior management approval tend to do so “because they cannot get the speed and agility they need from existing, approved organisational systems”.

And, McLaren, says this practice has created “a culture of ‘shadow IT”.

McLaren warns that, using these unapproved cloud implementations without the IT department’s oversight can make the business user’s job easy in the short term,” but can lead to security breaches, additional costs, and IT silos in the longer term.

“Business leaders should take action to reduce the risk of shadow IT replacing approved IT in the organisation,” McLaren recommends.

Marketing company Outsource surveyed 110 senior IT and management decision-makers in Australia and 40 in New Zealand for Red Hat, and its report reveals that most organisations in Australia and New Zealand fail to measure the specific business benefits they have achieved through their cloud strategy.

The survey also revealed that planning for cloud adoption is not very advanced yet, with only 22.7% of respondents saying they are in advanced planning stages.

“The remaining 77.3% of organisations may miss this first-mover advantage and could be left behind. Organisations that want to move to the cloud easily and effectively should ramp up their planning to help them stay ahead of their competition,” McLaren says.

According to Red Hat, data sovereignty and security concerns continue to be an issue for organisations looking to consume cloud services, with 60% of respondents experiencing security issues.

“Security should be top of mind when it comes to an organisation's applications and data in the cloud. Using a hybrid cloud management platform, such as Red Hat CloudForms, lets organisations use policy-based enforcement techniques across multiple cloud providers and virtualisation systems, to be able to quarantine systems that are not up to the required standard.

“As local datacentres become more common and security measures continue to evolve, these issues are likely to reduce in importance over time,” McLaren says.

Almost one in three respondents (28%) to the Red Hat survey said the biggest barrier to cloud adoption was that their IT architecture was not suitable.

“Not everything can be moved to the cloud to replace current systems. Business users in particular need to understand the level of detailed planning required to make sure that legacy applications, for example, can work in the cloud,” McLaren advises, adding that
“cloud transformation isn’t as simple as ‘lift and shift’ but requires planning around legacy systems and newer systems to see how they can interact and integrate.”

When it comes to bringing new applications into production in a timely manner, the survey reveals that application architecture (47%) and complex middleware software (43%) were highlighted as significant barriers, highlighting the need for modern, easy-to-use middleware software that makes building and integrating cloud applications more simple.

According to Red Hat, open source plays a significant role in cloud strategy and architecture, with survey respondents clearly understanding the benefits offered by open source technologies. The biggest benefit, cited by 29.3% of respondents, was open source’s interoperability with existing infrastructure, followed by architecture flexibility (28%).

McLaren says that open source is already the foundation for many popular cloud services and enterprise applications and these responses reflect the general trend towards open source in many aspects of the IT industry.

CIOs can improve their organisation’s competitiveness, flexibility and IT economics for the next decade or more by making the right choices when starting their cloud journey, according to Red Hat.

“Most organisations seem to understand that the cloud can help them achieve strategic goals around improving overall business efficiency and agility, but to take advantage of cloud in the next few years, these organisations will need to ramp up their planning and improve their internal communication about cloud.

“An effective cloud strategy can transform the IT department from a break-fix and maintenance provider to a driver of innovation, and help internal teams improve efficiency and productivity. Resources used previously to simply maintain operations can now be channeled to better respond to market changes and business opportunities,” McLaren concludes.

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Peter Dinham

Peter Dinham is a co-founder of iTWire and a 35-year veteran journalist and corporate communications consultant. He has worked as a journalist in all forms of media – newspapers/magazines, radio, television, press agency and now, online – including with the Canberra Times, The Examiner (Tasmania), the ABC and AAP-Reuters. As a freelance journalist he also had articles published in Australian and overseas magazines. He worked in the corporate communications/public relations sector, in-house with an airline, and as a senior executive in Australia of the world’s largest communications consultancy, Burson-Marsteller. He also ran his own communications consultancy and was a co-founder in Australia of the global photographic agency, the Image Bank (now Getty Images).

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