Cisco Helps Businesses Deal With Shadow IT

The vendor's new Cloud Consumption as a Service offering monitors the use of public cloud services by company employees.

shadow IT

Cisco Systems wants to help CIOs get better control over the sprawling issue of shadow IT.

The giant networking vendor is rolling out its Cloud Consumption as a Service offering, which is designed to enable partners and end users to discover and monitor the use of public clouds across an entire organization to help reduce the risks involved when business units access cloud services without input from their IT departments.

The new service includes analytics and benchmarking capabilities that give CIOs and IT departments greater insight into the extent of shadow IT in their organizations, which can help them mitigate what is increasingly becoming an important issue for companies.

According to Cisco's analysis, the average large enterprise uses 1,220 individual public cloud services, about 25 times more than what IT departments estimate. In addition, the average number of public cloud services in use has jumped 112 percent over the past year, and 67 percent during the past six months, officials said.

"Customers are facing an explosion of cloud use," Robert Dimicco, senior director for advanced services at Cisco, wrote in a post on the company blog. "And it's becoming a major headache for IT leaders."

Business groups within companies increasingly are going around IT departments and using public cloud services that they believe best help them do their jobs, Cisco officials said. However, doing so raises an array of risks around everything from security and compliance to data protection and business continuity. The hidden cost of public cloud services is four to eight times more than billed costs, Dimicco wrote.

Cisco's Cloud Consumption as a Service offering is aimed at helping CIOs get their arms around the sprawling use of public cloud services by giving them better visibility and insight into what services are being used and what they can do to rein them in. It "helps customers discover and monitor which cloud services are being used across the organization," he wrote. "It helps customers mitigate cloud risks, uncover redundant services to reduce costs, and compare providers and benchmark usage. Ultimately, it helps organizations strategically manage their cloud use and gain insight to inform their cloud roadmap. … The insight gained can help partners improve relevance in cloud and uncover future sales opportunities."

The service is available immediately through Cisco's channel partners, and is priced at between $1 and $2 per employee per month. The vendor is letting customers try out the service through a free 30-day trial.

Other tech vendors also are looking to help customers deal with the issue of shadow IT and employees sharing corporate data on third-party cloud applications. For example, IBM in September introduced its Cloud Security Enforcer offering, which gives companies greater visibility into all third-party cloud apps being used by employees and provides a secure way to access them. It also lets companies control which corporate data can be shared with the apps.

According to IBM's numbers, a third of employees at Fortune 1000 firms are sharing and uploading corporate data onto third-party apps and are making risky decisions, such as signing in with their personal email addresses or reusing corporate log-in credentials.

In addition, the situation is getting more challenging as more Millennials enter the workforce. By 2020, Millennials will make up half of the workforce worldwide, and IBM's study found that currently, one of every two is sharing work data to public cloud apps.