Stalking Shadow IT: Amazon Assembles An Enterprise Cloud Army

If you're like most enterprise IT professionals, you have serious concerns about cloud computing. According to a new Lieberman Software 2012 Cloud Security Survey, sponsored by the Cloud Security Alliance, 88% of the 300 IT professionals surveyed believe that some of their data hosted in the cloud could be lost, corrupted or accessed by unauthorized individuals. That's likely why 86% keep their most sensitive data behind-the-firewall.

Despite those concernse, though, an equally whopping 86% believe their cloud deployment has been a success. It's therefore not unreasonable to suspect that 100% will be back at the cloud computing trough, again and again and again.

That is really good news for Amazon, which is looking to double down on selling its cloud services to the enterprise.

Amazon Hires an Army

In a bid to drive enterprise adoption, the cloud leader looks set to nearly double its AWS salesforce, as Business Insider discovered. No doubt these salespeople will focus on moving enterprises to use Amazon Web Services beyond the test and development workloads currently in the cloud, currently the dominant type of workload enterprises cede to AWS. The goal, clearly, is to get them to move mission-critical applications to AWS.

This could prove harder than it first appears, given enterprise insistence on tight Service-Level Agreements (SLAs) and the big differences between enterprise and consumer cloud requirements, as Wikibon's Kristen Feledy posits:

IT organizations are under tremendous pressure to cut costs and the “Amazon Effect” increases that pressure. The reality is many of the successful public cloud examples are characterized by a single application accessed by millions of people; whereas the traditional enterprise is made up of hundreds or even thousands of apps accessed by thousands or maybe tens of thousands of users. These are different worlds where the former is all about scale and simplicity and the latter emphasizes service levels, reliability and security.

Amazon, after all, has mostly taken a somewhat blasé approach to SLAs, which Wikibon describes as "we’ll do our best – if we don’t please send us an email."

Not exactly a confidence booster for the cloud-wary CIO.

Shadow IT: First Open Source, Now Cloud

This is changing. Amazon recently rolled out premium support plans for the enterprise, including "white glove case routing." To sell a premium AWS experience, Amazon's job profiles scout for sales professionals who "possess both a sales and technical background that enables them to drive an engagement at the CXO level as well as with software developers and IT architects." In other words, Amazon recognizes that it is the developers and architects that pull cloud computing into the enterprise, but it is the CIO who will bless this "shadow IT."

After all, it is shadow IT that has been selling the enterprise on Amazon for years. By now, just every enterprise is using the cloud, be it from Amazon, Microsoft, Rackspace or others, as progressive IT professionals have looked to the cloud to get things done despite friction from internal bureaucracy. For those paying attention, this is precisely how open source succeeded: currying favor with developers until its spread was so pervasive within the enterprise that CIOs were forced to accept it, and signed sales contracts with Red Hat and others to mitigate legal risk and improve service.

Hence, Cloudscaling's Michael Grant is arguably correct to suggest that rather than fight shadow IT and its inexorable march to the cloud, CIOs should recognize shadow IT as "a forward thinking testbed for IT innovation." If Grant is right, that testbed suggests a future in the cloud, both for dev/test and mission-critical workloads, driven by the promise of higher convenience and lower costs, but really about increased innovation.

But it also suggests that Amazon has been right to first focus on the enterprise's new kingmakers: developers. This is how open source won. It's how the cloud is winning, too.