Word Notes 9.15.20
Ep 15 | 9.15.20

shadow IT (noun)


Rick Howard: The word is: shadow IT.

Rick Howard: As in: shadow meaning without authority, and IT meaning the information technology that people use to do their work.

Rick Howard: Definition: Technology, software and hardware deployed without explicit organizational approval.

Rick Howard: Example sentence: Shadow IT grew out of pure necessity as increasingly tech-savvy employees sought out their own solutions to specific line of business problems.

Rick Howard: Context: In the early days of the computer era, from the 1980s through the 2000s, security and information system practitioners considered shadow IT as completely negative. Those unauthorized systems were nothing more than a hindrance that created more technical debt in organizations that were already swimming in it with the known and authorized systems. Further shadow IT increased the attack surface because the security apparatus didn't know about it, and therefore couldn't protect it. In recent years, those same practitioners still consider shadow IT in a negative light, but also have realized that by allowing employees to try things on their own in a controlled environment designed by the organization for that purpose helps individuals, business units and the entire outfit innovate and provide solutions to business problems in a more efficient and timely manner.

Rick Howard: Nerd reference: In the William Gibson short story, "Burning Chrome," first published in Omni magazine in July 1982, and nominated for the coveted Nebula Award in 1983, the narrator, a hacker named Automated Jack, says, quote, "The street finds its own uses for things," end quote. According to Joey DeVilla on his Global Nerdy blog site. This phrase has become an often-quoted aphorism used to explain that people often find unintended uses for technology. But in terms of shadow IT, this quote can be equally applied. In this case, "the street" refers to the organization's employees and "own uses for things" are the shadow IT they deploy. Gibson is famous for coining the term "cyberspace" in this short story, but it didn't catch on in the cyberpunk zeitgeist until he reused it in his classic cyberpunk novel "Neuromancer" in 1984.