If you work in – or run – an IT department, you may have noticed something strange. Whereas before, other departments and business users would swamp you with requests for software applications and developments, those demands may have died down. Is it because users no longer need new programs? There may be another reason. Now that cloud computing is available to all on a pay-as-you-go basis, some users may have become tired of waiting and started to buy IT resources of their own, or Shadow IT, as it is known. However, items like disaster recovery may be the last thing on their minds, leaving your organisation exposed to risk.

You know how important disaster recovery planning and management can be to a business, and you’d like to impress that importance on those “rogue” users. But heading out of your IT department wielding the biggest stick you can find may not be such a smart idea. The first thing to understand is that most users are being driven by business needs or pressures. While you might like a different solution in the longer term, the short term solution may be to accompany users in their initiatives. Offer advice about how to get the most out of what they are using, and take the opportunity to start passing the message about why DR is so important. Review your current DR plan to see if existing Shadow IT can be brought into the company DR fold.

In parallel, check your options for repositioning the IT department as the solution of choice or at least the respected gatekeeper for other cloud solutions. Possibilities include accelerating deployment of applications (using an agile approach, for example), or setting up a private cloud. Check your policy statement about using SaaS (Software as a Service) solutions too. Sometimes, users make their own way to the cloud because the policy is vague or unclear. “Sell” the advantages of good disaster recovery (recovery, protection, loss-avoidance) and the skills of your IT department in helping users to get it right. Although some DR risks of Shadow IT cannot be tolerated, you are likely to get users back on the right DR track through diplomacy rather than dictatorship.