CEO Blog: Shadow IT and Infobright
I read a great article entitled "The upside of shadow IT", and it made me think of the significant number of Infobright customers that exist (and certainly prosper) in these shadows. There are people analyzing tons of weblogs on small servers under the desks of business analysts because the IT approach was going to be too difficult and too costly. We have securities traders doing end-of-day risk analysis with multi-TB databases in their offices because IT said they would charge back $1,000,000 and take a year to do what the trader did very effectively for $50,000 in three weeks. I had a conversation with a customer recently who is storing and analyzing 10TB of machine-generated data who said he was "really, really happy" but asked that we keep our relationship outside the auspices of IT, because they add no value. If anything, in their case they are an impediment to getting things done.
Make no mistake, I have nothing at all against IT departments, nor do I have an overwhelming bias that all end-users are competent technologists. But let's face it, we live in an entirely new world from 30, 20, 10, even 5 years ago. The world of Big Data and the imperatives of gaining insight into data is perceived by some to be in conflict with the need to manage headcount, capital expenses, operating expenses, and time. Unfortunately, sometimes the very things that may have brought you success yesterday will be the things you cling to today and in turn become your biggest impediment to success tomorrow. There are now a number of specialized tools designed specifically for addressing these needs which are both affordable and accessible to not only technologists, but in many cases, business users, hence the proliferation of IT outside the IT department. Many of our customers are part of the IT department. But the IT departments we work with are in general more aggressive users of technology, and open to and conversant in changes on the technological landscape. These are the IT teams putting Infobright in alongside MongoDB or Hadoop, doing fabulous things at a fraction of what they might otherwise spend on conventional technology.
But not everyone thinks like that. When you are quoted a year and a million dollars from your internal IT department, and you know you can put your own system in for a fraction of the time and money, the gap seems like the Grand Canyon. And the trend is moving more in that direction. The market is funny this way. It's like the evolution of automobiles. When you purchased a car in the very early days, you also employed a chauffeur. Why? Because cars were deemed too technically complicated for the average person to operate. In order for cars to go mainstream, the industry made "everyone a chauffeur" by making cars easy enough for everyone to drive.
These traders and business analysts that are living, and buying "in the shadow" today do so because they can, and because the gaps created by some IT departments make this a more desirable option. This will certainly change over time, but for now, there is certainly a common thread for these tech-savvy business users: they are getting their jobs done with far less expense, and they all seem very, very happy.