During the late 90’s and early 2000’s, it wasn’t uncommon for IT staff (and even some business users) to have essential business systems running on servers sitting in their cubicles and/or under their desks. In some cases, data center space wasn’t available, and in other cases, some employees blatantly eschewed company IT policies. While the locations of these business systems may not have been a very big deal and one might assume that during the past 20 years these systems would have been long retired, that hasn’t always been the case. This 20-year-old behavior continues to this day. Many companies still have applications hosted outside their IT managed data centers, running on unmanaged hardware and which individual employees support. If this situation persists at your company, then your company is at risk and you must act immediately.
Why is this such a big deal?
Modern companies are highly dependent on technology to function effectively. When systems break, business activities can be severely impacted. Your IT department is chartered to provide service assurance for your business systems to ensure you not only have the features business users need, but also the services are stable, available and performing well to do their designated jobs. Uncontrolled technology operating outside your IT department’s visibility and control not only can make its job of service assurance difficult, but also it creates a significant risk of disruption to your business.
Technology devices, software and services require almost-continuous maintenance and monitoring to operate at peak performance. Routine maintenance, patching for security and performance issues, updating software to the current version and monitoring for abnormal activity are all activities your IT staff must be able to perform on every component in your IT infrastructure. If devices and/or services are operating outside IT’s control, then the staff can’t do their job and the results could be business stoppage from an unplanned outage, a security breach or even loss of critical data.
How do you know if you have uncontrolled IT systems?
“How do you know what you don’t know?” – that is the difficult, proverbial question. In most cases, the owners of these shadow IT systems running outside your sanctioned environments won’t be eager to volunteer information about them. If you want to find them, then you must search for them. That’s when capabilities like those found in Virima can help. Virima’s agentless discovery finds all devices in your environment (whether IT owns and manages them or they’re under someone’s desk) and automatically links them based on discovered relationships. Do you think you have unsanctioned systems running outside your environment? Virima can help with that situation too by identifying external dependencies and communications that warrant good ole-fashioned sleuthing with the app/service owners who put them there. Once discovered, Virima’s IT Asset Management (ITAM) tools then enable you to categorize and map the discovered systems against their dependent business processes and capture critical information, such as support contacts, hardware/software versions and technical configurations. By comparing this information to your IT standards, it will become very clear where your uncontrolled IT systems are and how they are being used.
Visualizing impact so you can act
Now that you’ve discovered and hopefully taken control of the formally unknown IT systems, you must determine their impact on your business and whether they are an occasional exception or a pervasive problem. In most cases, changing behavior starts with educating leaders and employees about the potential impact of this situation and providing a safe and structured process, so the systems comply with your IT standards. Virima provides tools to help educate everyone involved and in the form of visualizations and system maps that show how individual components fit into the bigger picture of your technology environment. From there, it’s an easy process to emphasize how the business could suffer if an outage or security breach were to occur on systems unknown to IT.
If you suspect there are critical business systems, services and software on which your company depends that are operating outside of the visibility and control of your IT department and you are concerned, then Virima can help. To learn more, download our discovery and visualization white paper and schedule a demo today.