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Cisco seeks to fight shadow IT with new Cloud Consumption service

With each passing year, cloud usage and services continue to grow, and it is easy to understand why. The cloud has the power to transform business processes and empower office employees, remote workers and IT staff.

According to new research from Synergy Research Group, the cloud market is expanding by around 28 percent each year, with considerable growth seen in the infrastructure-as-a-service and platform-as-a-service markets especially.

“Across a wide range of cloud applications and services we have seen that usage has now passed well beyond the early adopter phase and barriers to adopt continue to diminish,” noted Synergy Research Group founder Jeremy Duke.

“The cloud market is expanding by 28 percent each year.”

However, with innovative, new technologies come new challenges as well. As the popularity of the cloud grows, so too do concerns about shadow IT – when employees leverage unapproved, typically consumer-level applications for work purposes. These practices don’t just threaten the security of an organization, but can hamper productivity gains achieved via the cloud as well – and all it takes is one bad app to ruin a cloud initiative at an organization.

The problem with Shadow IT

While Shadow IT practices have been around for some time, they didn’t come into the spotlight in earnest until recently. Cisco executive Bob Dimicco told Reuters that within a typical company of 5,000 employees, supervisors estimate that approximately 90 cloud services live within their infrastructure for employee usage. However, thanks to shadow IT, that number is actually closer to 1,200. What’s more is around 40 of those programs are considered “high-risk.

“Shadow IT is creating a growing corporate challenge,” wrote Reuters correspondent Sarah McBride. “While the services … provide convenience for employees, they can create headaches if they expose vulnerability to malware attacks, eat up bandwidth or fail to comply with laws.”

Reducing shadow IT: Cisco’s new services

Thankfully, Cisco is seeking to change all of that with its new services, which focus primarily around gaining insight into the consumption of cloud services. Reuters reported that in mid-January, Cisco unveiled its new offering, which included a monitoring tool that can help enterprise leaders get a better idea of how employees utilize third-party cloud software.

Shadow IT practices could be hurting a company's productivity and security.
Shadow IT practices could be hurting a company’s productivity and security.

The Cisco Cloud Usage Collector can be deployed within the network as part of the Cisco Cloud Consumption Professional Services.

“NetFlow data is sent from customer routers to the collector to identify the cloud service providers that are being accessed, the number of unique IP addresses being used and the volume of traffic to these providers,” Cisco stated. “This information together reveals shadow IT consumption.”

With Cisco’s Cloud Consumption Professional Services in place, businesses can significantly boost their visibility into the cloud and leverage the solution’s findings to establish more robust cloud management processes. In addition, the system helps companies increase their agility and improve their overall use of the cloud in a more secure manner.

“By placing data collection tools in the customer network, Cisco can gather enterprise-wide cloud service provider usage data to identify redundant cloud services, public cloud spending, potential risks and cloud usage trends,” Cisco stated. “The services provide customers with full visibility into their organizations’ authorized and unauthorized public cloud use.”

Overall, this service has the potential to help boost security across the enterprise sector and improve cloud usage.

To find out more, be sure to contact iT1 Source today, a Premier Cisco Partner, today.

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