Cisco turns to Skyhigh Networks to shine light on shadow IT risks
High-tech behemoth Cisco (Nasdaq: CSCO) has turned to startup Skyhigh Networks to tackle the problem of employees and business units using cloud services without IT's knowledge, a phenomenon known as shadow IT.
With worldwide business units, including numerous acquired companies in various stages of integration, Cisco did not know how many cloud services were being used by employees. This lack of knowledge complicated its efforts to get a handle on corporate data risk.
"We had no comprehensive way of knowing what services were in use, where outgoing data was headed for, and what risks these cloud services implied for our business," said Desmond Murray, Cisco's director of information systems.
According to a survey conducted last year by PricewaterhouseCoopers, Cisco is not alone. A full 47 percent of IT managers estimated that at least half of their corporate IT spending was for shadow IT services.
Cisco deployed Skyhigh Networks' Cloud Security Services Manager to uncover the extent of its shadow IT usage and to get a sense of its cloud services footprint, according to a case study prepared by Skyhigh. Murray collected network traffic logs from business units and uploaded the log data into Skyhigh Networks' CloudRegistry discovery and analytics engine. The engine identified dozens of unauthorized cloud services operating on the Cisco networks.
"The number of cloud providers we were using was definitely a bit of an eyebrow raiser. We knew there would be a good number, but we were surprised by exactly how many showed up," Murray said.
In addition to uncovering the extent of the shadow IT problem at Cisco, Skyhigh provided the firm with a dashboard that enabled Murray and his team to monitor the use of cloud services as well as establish rules to block cloud usage that posed a high risk of a data breach.
According to Rajiv Gupta, Skyhigh's founder and CEO, there are many firms like Cisco that are not aware of their shadow IT problem.
"When we spoke with customers, on average they thought their employees were using between 25 and 30 cloud services, while we showed them that on average employees were using between 300 and 400 cloud services. The extent of the shadow IT problem, as well as the risks, inefficiencies and costs, are not a well understood problem," Gupta told FierceEnterpriseCommunications.
Skyhigh Networks recently secured $20 million in additional funding from new investor Sequoia Capital and existing investor Greylock Partners. Skyhigh plans to use the money to expand sales, marketing and engineering efforts, Gupta related.