Get Out from the Shadow of Shadow IT

By Seth Fox, IT Sr. Manager and NetApp Solution Advocate, NetApp Information Technology


Business units sometimes presume that self-administration of a compute environment is faster and less expensive than IT. This was the case at NetApp® where various business units were deploying their own systems, negotiating their own contracts with providers, and hiring their own employees to administer the environment – a practice commonly referred to in the industry as “shadow IT.” The impact was a proliferation of business-owned applications and disparate systems that created an expensive and sprawling ecosystem of redundancy, data and integration issues, and security exposures.


While some shadow IT often is acceptable and necessary, at times, business units should focus on their core functions and domains. Providing services that are flexible, effective and extensible is key in laying the foundation for business agility. At NetApp, we took an innovative tact that combines internal data centers with external virtual cloud computing resources to create a transparent and agile IT environment capable of dynamically scaling to meet business requirements. In this way, our IT organization has become an “IT service broker” to gain a handle on IT costs and right-size IT investments according to the nature of the application workload.


Before you embark down this road, work with your business leaders to designate which critical business workloads and centralized applications – both new and existing – will run in the company’s internal data centers. Over time, your internal data centers will become smaller and denser, and business-owned systems can be consolidated if you adopt a self-service cloud alternative.


Pay as You Go Cloud Service

At NetApp IT, our answer is an on-demand, pay-as-you-go service called nCloud for non-critical business applications. With the ability to deliver centralized infrastructure support, improve time to delivery, enhance capacity management, mitigate depreciation and dynamically scale applications, nCloud frees up money and resources that can be used elsewhere as applications migrate to this platform.


Today, more than 40 applications are hosted on nCloud. Based on a conservative estimate, we find that nCloud equates annually to $1.5 million in tangible cost avoidances and opportunity cost savings. Additional benefit is realized through better time to market and by using only what we need in an elastic utility model.


An example of these savings is shown through one NetApp business unit that had invested heavily in public cloud, enabling their employees to create and manage an application ecosystem outside of IT management or visibility. In support of this strategy, alternative workers were hired by the business unit to administer, configure, and manage the systems, applications and platform. Now, with the availability of nCloud, this business unit has begun to move applications from its public cloud to the nCloud virtual private cloud. nCloud has proven to be a more cost-effective solution, cutting infrastructure and related service costs by an additional 50 percent. In total, annual cloud-hosting spend for this business unit has been reduced by $300,000.


To learn how NetApp became a successful IT broker via nCloud, read “NetApp Cloud Services Enable New Levels of Business Agility."


The NetApp-on-NetApp blog series features advice from subject matter experts from NetApp IT who share their real-world experiences using NetApp’s industry-leading storage solutions to support business goals. Want to view learn more about the program? Visit


Who do I have to get in touch with to find out more about nCloud?