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Hybrid Cloud Blog

Innovate. Automate. Make it smart. Get to market fast. It’s an exciting time for enterprise, but it’s also one of those “be careful what you wish for” moments. Ease of access to software as a service (SaaS), machine intelligence, and Internet of Things (IoT) encourages risk taking as much as innovation. Data and network security runs up against the Wild West of shadow IT. CISOs, IT admins, and even cloud providers face challenges in balancing compliance policies with the need for the speed, agility, and creative freedom that both large and small businesses have come to expect.

Two things are fueling the DIY disruption underpinning shadow IT: cloud computing and the working generation that understands it best, millennials. According to the Brookings Institute, millennial workers will make up 75 percent of the U.S. workforce by 2025. As the fastest growing demographic, millennials are influencing business models and expectations across the board. Four-fifths of today’s employees admit to using SaaS apps that may or may not be part of their companies’ IT framework. While older workers are more likely to stick with company-managed tools and processes, they’re adopting some of the do-it-yourself approach of their younger colleagues to remain agile and competitive.

Millennials lean heavily toward public cloud adoption and innovative technologies, and they expect their employers to provide them with the flexibility and creative liberties to do their work. Millennials believe innovation is critical enough that they will take risks to achieve it, a great deal more risk than their Generation X and baby boomer counterparts will.

In the U.S., nearly nine in ten millennial workers believe it’s important to work for an organization that allows them to use open-source technologies. They’re more likely to look for a new job if their company’s IT is not as forward-leaning and creative as these workers see themselves.

Millennials are not inhibited about shadow IT, in fact, quite the opposite. Their “make it so” attitude toward the public cloud is fueling innovation and their productivity. Modern SaaS and business services are fast, easily onboarded, and increasingly sophisticated. More than ever, millennials are comfortable hosting their company’s essential applications and services in the public cloud, and they expect to be able to do so.

None of this changes the fact that sustainable enterprise security requires deep visibility and control of assets. Once an organization’s data or user identities are “in the wild” of the public cloud, IT doesn’t have the visibility it needs to manage access and detect threats effectively.

While the traditional and understandable InfoSec response is to block access, this is no longer viable even in the short term. Blocking cloud and open-source solutions not only impacts innovation and productivity, it can disenfranchise a significant segment of the workforce.

So, how does enterprise IT solve the shadow IT conundrum?

In the short term, you can keep your network secure while supporting the spirit of innovation that millennial workers need. By implementing a solution that integrates with the cloud applications your people are using now, you can mitigate the insecurities of shadow IT while your organization develops its hybrid future. Microsoft Cloud App Security, for example, gives IT visibility into public cloud services like Box, as well as BYO and IoT devices.

Implementing a true hybrid cloud is the longer-term way out of the shadow IT wilds. In this effort, enterprise leaders should consider millennials’ superpowers, the value they put on innovation and their willingness to try new things and “fail fast”, as advantages and encourage a work culture that empowers employees to choose the cloud apps and services they want, without sacrificing the security and compliance your organization needs.

The transition to a hybrid cloud can present challenges for any organization. So to help, we’ve created a free cloud migration assessment. This tool will help you to see the value of a hybrid cloud and provide you with detailed information, such as cost estimates.