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IT pros bypass management, set up their own AWS clouds

Consumerization isn’t just end user versus IT. Some IT pros bypass management to create public cloud apps that speed test-and-dev projects.

Consumerization isn’t just an end-user trend.  IT pros find it easier to bypass management channels within their own department to get the resources that they need quickly, using cloud services.

Simply type in a credit card number, write some code and, voila, an instant cloud app.

Of course, most companies have strict policies to discourage staffers from going out on their own.  However, there are times when the lure of Amazon Web Services’ low-cost, easy provisioning proves too tempting and employees go around management to get a project done quickly.

"I have seen this among my customers," said Shlomo Swidler, CEO of Orchestratus Inc., in West Hempstead, N.Y., a cloud computing consultancy with extensive experience with AWS.

"Some CIOs only find out their organization uses Amazon Web Services when there is an AWS outage," he added.

Some CIOs only find out their organization uses Amazon Web Services when there is an AWS outage.

Shlomo Swidler, CEO of Orchestratus Inc.

Take, for example, Web developer Colin Dean, president of the Pittsburgh LAN Coalition, a group that organizes video gaming events.

"One day, we got a big interview with a celebrity in the gaming community," Dean said. "Anticipating heavy traffic [to our website], I quickly and, without forward approval of our financiers, moved our static assets to Amazon Simple Storage Service."

"Now, for fewer than 20 cents per month, our site loads in a quarter of the time it did previously and we can handle significantly more load," Dean added. "Even if we were to get a gigantic spike in traffic, our site would still be up and we'd be able to take registrations for our LAN party events. Business goes on -- this is what's important to us."

While this type of activity might violate company policy, in the vast majority of cases, someone along the chain of command usually buys off on such a decision.

"I definitely see IT individuals and teams using AWS instances, but it is with the knowledge of somebody on staff, because, of course, it must be paid for," said Robert Mahowald, research vice president at analyst firm IDC Corp.

Indeed, AWS provides tools to help head off rogue projects, including the ability to make a single API call and see every system running in the cloud, as well as AWS Identity and Access Management, which enables customers to securely control access to AWS services and resources for users.

Still, the challenge of waiting for approval continues to drive employees to seek help outside established channels. "The main driver for 'shadow IT' is the typically difficult, protracted and bureaucratic process of acquiring resources," Swidler said.

To avoid these violations, IT organizations need to jettison clumsy, slow procedures, eliminate bureaucracy, and become leaner. Tremendous benefits can arise from such a transformation, Swidler said. The change leads to a greater pace of innovation, improved ROI on research and development, as well as much happier developers and IT users, he added.

Of course, that kind of change can bring with it governance and regulatory challenges, Swidler acknowledged, but the alternative is to force IT to suffer -- and to discover violations after the fact, he added.

"They need to give users what they want and get out of the way."

Stuart J. Johnston is Senior News Writer for Contact him at

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