This story was written by Keith Dawson for UBM DeusM’s community Web site Business Agility, sponsored by IBM. It is archived here for informational purposes only because the Business Agility site is no more. This material is Copyright 2012 by UBM DeusM.

Cloud Is Exacerbating Tensions Between Business Units and IT

A new survey says that the practice of going around IT to the cloud is more widespread than you may have assumed.

Business units seeking agility are moving to the cloud, circumventing IT. A new survey says the practice is widespread. IT will need its own agility to get back in the game.

You've been aware that business users have been taking out their credit cards and signing up for cloud services, because they perceive that the need for speed and agility overrides all other considerations, including security, compliance, and manageability. A new survey commissioned by the service management software provider BMC and conducted by Forrester Research shows that, according to enterprise CIOs, the practice is risky, commonplace, and growing fast. And it is magnifying tensions between IT management and the business.

More than half of the organizations surveyed run mission-critical processes, in circumvention of IT and policy, on "unmanaged" clouds. By this the researchers mean that the environment is managed by the service provider and not by the business customer.

For the survey, "Delivering on High Cloud Expectations," Forrester questioned a total of 327 IT executives and architects in the US, Europe, and Asia-Pacific, across a range of industry verticals. Some of the findings:

To meet these challenges, IT must move quickly to change its approach to cloud services, according to Dana Gardner's blog on ZDNet. They can do this by building trust with business users, starting to take over management of public cloud services, and investing in more automation for operations and service provisioning.

To build trust, IT management should sit down with their counterparts for straightforward conversations about the business's needs, and then build these requirements into a cloud strategy. The trust level will improve as IT demonstrates progress toward business goals.

To get a handle on unmanaged clouds, IT should begin shifting their workload to clouds whose providers allow for customer monitoring and management. This will reduce both complexity and risk as the number of virtual server pools diminishes.

Finally, IT must become radically more agile in how it provisions and operates internal services. A ticketing system built to operate on timescales of weeks can't compare to the instant gratification of Amazon's cloud. Faster provisioning will require a greater investment in automation.

Most organizations will end up with a hybrid solution involving public and private clouds. Only if IT moves with agility to fashion a workable cloud strategy will it be in a position to add real value to the corporation.