Shadow IT- Balancing Innovation with Risk

Managing Shadow IT and mitigating security risks

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The Emergence of Shadow IT

Shadow IT is an instance or phenomenon in which individual developers and  employees within an organisation build  both web application or use software and IT solutions suiting their own needs using solutions or tools  without the prior approval or vigilance of IT department.  This also includes development and use of apps which are not sanctioned by organisations. These apps are created using platforms that help business users  to quickly and easily build and deploy customized solutions even with very minimal technical knowhow.

When Frost & Sullivan conducted a survey, in a report titled “The Hidden Truth Behind Shadow IT”  they found that more than 80% of respondents said that they used non-IT-approved SaaS applications while doing their jobs. The report also found that 35% or more of all SaaS apps in a corporation typically “are purchased and approved without oversight.”


Implication and Risk of Shadow Apps


IT Security Compromised

Shadow IT can expose organizations to risks through the creation of shadow apps. While these apps are useful and improve productivity they are not always sanctioned by IT .These apps are often authorized using corporate credentials and may demand extensive permission sets, including the ability to view, delete, externalize, and store corporate data. These apps are not protected with firewalls and security systems and consume huge bandwidth hampering overall productivity.

Cloudclock analysed that “of all the apps granted access to corporate systems in 2016, 27% were classified as high risk.”

Threats posed by shadow Data 

Shadow apps are used to store, recycle and share sensitive data . If apps are dependent on cloud storage to host confidential information and the users have no knowledge about the host, then there is no guarantee over data security. This could not only breach customer security policies but it could jeopardise regulatory and data sovereignty rules.

Hidden Cost to organisation 

The usage of Shadow apps sometimes increase expenditures beyond allocated IT budgets in an organisation. Businesses  face insufficient return on investment over approved IT assets and softwares which include mobile apps also. When Shadow apps fail, the cost of rebuilding some of the apps using approved and standard technology further adds up to costs. Sometime IT may need to hire external developers and experts who can implement apps and applications which are in sync with security policies and the IT environment of any enterprise.

Barrier to Innovation

Shadow apps may form a barrier to some more efficient app and application usages. Often these apps can not be enhanced to the optimum as they lack proper documentation, controls and standards. Shadow It is sometime a runaway train and not an innovation engine. There is always instances where shadow IT has promoted silos and duplicate apps with inconsistent logic and standards. Performance bottlenecks may crop up when Shadow IT systems layer on top of existing systems. Data might be exported from a shared system to a spreadsheet to perform the critical tasks or analysis.

Shadow IT risksHow to leverage the potential of Shadow IT and manage it well

A global market brings greater competition, and in tough economic times businesses have to be agile to survive. Shadow IT is here to stay as it has armed employees with the power of innovation and ease of use.  Imposing more restrictions and preventing access to tools is not the solution, when everything the user needs is available on their personal mobile phone or tablet.

Shadow Apps  and shadow IT are the challenge  for enterprises working on web applications.  The only way we can ensure that we perform better than our competitors is by getting closer to the customer, understanding their challenges and delivering solutions that provide what they need. Organisation want to work on secured platforms that help them build custom web applications using RAD that allows them to build apps with minimal or low coding and in less time.


Mitigate Shadow IT risks with WaveMaker

At WaveMaker we help customers embrace innovation while providing secure infrastructure. Wavemaker helps businesses with software that enables them to run their own end-to-end application platform as a service (aPaaS) for rapidly building and efficiently running custom apps. These apps are integrated to the IT security . WaveMaker Enterprise solves the Shadow IT challenge: it enables business users and developers to bypass that queue by building and running custom apps on their CIO-sanctioned infrastructure mitigating the risk of Shadow IT. WaveMaker allows IT support teams to get back control without curtailing the innovation pipeline, which in turn ensures security and standardization.  WaveMaker Enterprise supports hybrid environments so that organizations can deploy apps in the public cloud or on private infrastructure, and deploy containers on top of virtual machines or on bare metal. Easy click-to-deploy and release management workflows mean that very little deployment or operations expertise is necessary to get a custom app up and running. Business stakeholders, developers can actively participate in the development process which makes it interesting for all without compromising IT infrastructure and security.

In order for organizations to quickly deliver apps that users want without compromising on IT security and governance, enterprises need to follow a two-fold approach: 

Shadow IT 

Innovate: Enable business units to build their own apps but on technologies sanctioned by IT by making sure that the tools to create new applications are widely available and easy to consume.

Renovate:  Migrate existing long tail applications by liberating them from proprietary technologies using proven modernization techniques and platforms.

We have been able to successfully help enterprises across the globe navigate the shadow IT problems due to long tail apps. WaveMaker Rapid Application Development Platform is proven choice for both innovation and renovation because of the following reasons:

  •         Visual development that delivers web and mobile apps at the speed of business
  •         Instant migration of legacy applications based on proprietary technologies such as Lotus Notes, MS Access, Oracle Forms, etc.
  •         Centralized IT for all the applications with hassle-free continuous integration and release management
  •         Single platform that works for business users as well as professional developers
  •         Future-proof platform that is based on open standards and technologies trusted by millions of developers
  •         No vendor lock in with flexible deployment and export options
  •         Offers the lowest total cost of ownership and transparent pricing

Shadow IT is here to stay. There is an increasing consensus on the use of Shadow IT effectively in organisations and  we need to move towards a more ‘positive’ attitude regarding shadow IT. In Only when there is a situation where  IT balances the availability of efficient IT infrastructures on one hand and transformation, innovation, customization and business on the other, the call to embrace shadow IT instead of combating it will get heard. We at Wavemaker constantly innovate to create such an experience.

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