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Shadow IT – What is it and should I fear it?
August 20, 2013 @ 02:21 PM | By James Whitemore

Over the last couple of years we’ve seen the rise of something we call Shadow IT. Shadow IT is the “gray market” of hardware and software being used by employees that is not supported by a company’s central IT department. This includes mobile devices such as tablets, smartphones and USB drives, but can also include applications like DropBox, Gmail or Skype.

In the past, Shadow IT was often the result of an impatient employee’s desire for immediate access to hardware or software without going through the necessary approvals. But now many employees are using them out of necessity, especially where niche products help them perform their job better.

For the IT staff, Shadow IT can feel like an invasion of the established system and pose a problem when it comes to infrastructure management. The adoption of these types of applications requires consideration within your existing network infrastructure to address security risks when non-sanctioned applications are not subject to the same testing as other technologies. In addition, these applications can negatively affect the user experience by slowing the speed of the network and/or bandwidth requirements.

There is a secret to mitigating the challenges of Shadow IT: the corporate network. With the right network, IT can address these issues head on. The right network is one we call an “application aware” network, one that allows the IT team to determine appropriate Quality of Service (QoS) settings, prioritizing certain applications above others to ensure that business critical apps get the most bandwidth. This means that regardless of device, video conferencing (for example) won’t be interrupted because someone is watching last night’s ESPN highlights.

By deploying a solution that leverages an application-aware, enterprise-grade network with built-in intelligence, organizations can also leverage capabilities like comprehensive Unified Threat Management and managerial reporting capabilities that provide you with exceptional visibility into how your network is being used. Taken together, these elements allow the IT infrastructure to intelligently and efficiently respond to the proliferation of application requests and establish the necessary flexibility and scalability that the organization requires to maximize productivity across the team.

Shadow IT – it’s here to stay, but now it’s manageable. Learn how at the West IP Communications web site.

James WhitemoreJames Whitemore is senior vice president of sales and marketing at West IP Communications, the team that delivers InterCall’s unified communication services. InterCall and West IP Communications are both a part of West Corporation. James holds a B.A. (Hons) degree in Business from Newcastle University in the U.K. and currently resides in Boulder, CO. In his downtime, James is an avid skier with an enthusiasm for traveling and car collecting.

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