IT's 8 Biggest Frenemies

You probably have a good idea about who your enemies are. But what about your frenemies?

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The best way to deal with Slippery Sam is to secure a written agreement that forgives any past compliance transgressions, says Scott. The best time to do that is right before you sign the check. Then try to move core applications like email or Web hosting to the public cloud, where compliance issues become someone else's headache.

IT frenemy No. 6: Cloudy Claudette

She has an Amazon Web Services account and she knows how to use it.

Claudette doesn't have time to wait for IT to give her what she needs. With one phone call and a corporate Amex card, she has entire server farms at her beck and call.

She's moving at the speed of business, spinning up Web services, and cranking out innovative ideas faster than you can say "IT asset management audit." But she's also creating IT sprawl in every direction -- as are her pals Darlene Dell, Ricky Rackspace, and VMware vCloud Vanesh.

More than half of IT pros surveyed by PMG, a business process automation vendor, say cloud sprawl is having a negative impact on their operations and budgets. Four out of five worry about security of data in the cloud, and nearly 60 percent are concerned about compliance.

"To me, the biggest concern is security," said Joe LeCompte, principal at PMG. "With cloud sprawl there's nothing to keep employees from putting sensitive files on Dropbox, forgetting they're there, and giving access to their files to people outside the organization. IT wouldn't even know about it."

How to keep them in check: If you can't keep your employees from using public cloud services -- odds are you can't -- IT's best tactic is to get there ahead of them and offer the same things as part of a managed services catalog, says LeCompte.

"If I can call up Amazon and get a server spun up in five minutes, why is IT telling me it's going to take two months?" he says. "The solution is for IT to act more like the Dropbox and Amazons of the world and get fast and efficient. Either it's going to happen in a way you can manage and drive, or it's going to happen outside your control -- and you have an even bigger problem."

IT frenemy No. 7: HR Harriet

Finding and hiring tech talent is hard -- and Harriet makes it even tougher.

On paper, your goals look perfectly in sync. You and Harriet both want to find and recruit talent into the organization, evaluate candidates, and make the right hires. But wait, Harriet has more paper for you to fill out. And still more after that.

That job you needed to fill three weeks ago will take another three months before it's approved and posted. The final job description looks nothing like the one you wrote. Meanwhile, you're doing the work of three people.

"Getting qualified people is hard enough, but human resources and IT never seem to mix well," says Mike Meikle, CEO of the Hawkthorne Group, a boutique management and technology consulting firm. "Getting your job requirements through the HR rA(c)sumA(c) SEO machine is nearly impossible. Suddenly it's a mishmash of bureaucratic phrases and meaningless buzzwords like 'empowerment.' And that midlevel programmer you want to hire now needs a Master's in Information Systems and 30 years of Java experience."

How to keep them in check: Eventually, every new hire will have to go through Harriet. The key is to keep her out of recruiting and evaluating applicants for as long as humanly possible, says Meikle.

"Try to find a way to work with potential candidates without putting HR in the middle," he says. "Harriet should only be involved in the nuts and bolts of the on-boarding process, not determining who's best suited for a position. That's your job."

IT frenemy No. 8: Frightened Frank

When "CSO" rhymes with "just say no."

Want to deploy 4G iPads to your road warriors? Need to spin up a new production server for the marketing department? Hoping to set up a Dropbox account so that you can access work files from your home? Ask Frightened Frank, and the answer to all of these questions -- as well as any others you might think to ask -- is no.

The result, of course, is an explosion in the number of BYOD Betties and Cloudy Claudettes, not to mention the security, support, and management problems associated with each.

A lot of IT managers -- especially those with the word "security" in their job titles -- are programmed to say no, says SafeNet's Gonen.

"They're not bad people," he says. "They literally think it's their job to say no. But the business has totally moved to yes, and IT needs to get there too."

How to keep them in check: The key to avoiding Frightened Frank -- or acting like him -- is to adopt a new mind-set, says Gonen.

Organizations need to accept that data breaches are inevitable, as well as put in processes and procedures to minimize the impact on their most sensitive data, he says. They need to find out what cloud services employees are using and set up simple policies on how to enable them securely.

"If someone comes to you and asks, 'Is it OK if we use Amazon Web Services?' you need to say, 'That's fine, so long as you use it in the following way,'" Gonen says. "The same goes with smartphones or Dropbox. Because even if you don't allow them, people will use them anyway. You have to give people a way to take shadow IT and make it real IT."

This story, "IT's 8 Biggest Frenemies" was originally published by InfoWorld.

Copyright © 2013 IDG Communications, Inc.

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