IT admins: The unsung heroes of the cloud

Iron Man. Captain America. IT administrator. Yes, you read that correctly. As organisations make their shift to cloud computing technologies, including Microsoft Azure and Office 365, IT admins can be a crucial – but often overlooked – asset. These superheroes of the technology world can save their organisation from technological chaos, stop compliance issues in their tracks, and spread their technical knowledge for the good of the organisation. So how can admins prove their worth in the rise of the cloud?

IT admins should consider these four ways to identify new opportunities within IT and continue to protect their organisations from danger in the cloud:

Identify instances of Shadow IT

With today’s tech-reliant and increasingly mobile workforce, it’s an unfortunate inevitability that employees will open and use unauthorised apps and solutions. In fact, according to research by Skyhigh Networks, the average organisation uses over 1,083 different cloud services. While some individuals, teams, and even entire departments arrange cloud services in a secure and productive manner, others can adopt unsanctioned tools that expose organisations to security hazards. In order to alleviate these concerns before they become a bigger problem, IT teams can take the following steps to proactively identify and alleviate the side effects of shadow IT in their cloud architectures:

1. Discover unsanctioned apps

Through an audit or company-wide survey, IT can uncover which approved apps are actually in use by employees and which they are choosing to bypass. Lifting the veil on technology usage within your organisation allows you to better implement prevention controls and uncover the apps employees truly want to use.

2. Unify IT management

Admins should implement clear processes and guidelines for cloud usage to ensure a centralised approach to IT management. Once you have an idea of what the most popular apps are among employees, work with IT leaders to give employees the options they want without sacrificing security.

3. Identify weak spots

Rogue IT behaviors can expose an organisation to a plethora of security risks, and may even lead to large-scale, costly data breaches. To give IT departments some peace of mind, employees should operate on the same cloud platforms. This allows admins to keep an eye on any weak spots in the system and ultimately avert harmful cyberattacks.

Form an alliance with Compliance

With data privacy and data security topping the list of cloud concerns, organisations may want to consider hiring a full-time compliance and risk officer (if they don’t have one already) to assist in the cloud adoption process. IT admins can work with this executive to craft guidelines that support business in the cloud and lay out appropriate, secure cloud behaviours. IT departments should embrace collaborating with other teams to ensure all bases are covered before deployment.

When it comes to managing security and permissions, organisations need clear boundaries for who can access documents and data living in the cloud – whether it’s based on an employee’s department or position within the organisation. To prepare for when employees leave the company, IT teams can work closely with Human Resources to control the exiting individuals’ access to company data.

Spread knowledge to encourage adoption

Since cloud platforms are often underutilised or filled with untapped resources, IT admins can spearhead a training initiative to properly educate end users on the features and capabilities they can benefit from the most. When employees are confused or frustrated with new technologies, it hurts their productivity and tempts them to revert back to more comfortable applications – IT-approved or not. IT managers and c-suite executives should give employees an open forum to discuss and train on company platforms. Social training, lunch and learns, and Q&A sessions are simple, time-efficient ways to create a cloud knowledge-sharing ecosystem within an organisation.

Streamline the user lifecycle

For HR and IT teams, streamlining the employee on-boarding and off-boarding processes can be a nightmare. It is essential for security-measures that new employees are given the right amount of access to company information and exiting employees are properly removed from the ecosystem in a timely matter. By moving away from manual-intensive models and towards tech-enabled systems, IT and HR managers can work together to better control past, present, and future employee data.

Overall, we know organisations will continue to increase the amount of cloud usage over time. But realising the hero in each of your IT admins will make this shift a success from the start. In addition to readying your new systems, also remember to educate your people on the processes for using the technology before getting started. With the right strategy and IT admin skills in place, organisations can enjoy the benefits of a scalable (and affordable) cloud solution that facilitates the needs of their employees.

Shyam Oza, Senior Product Manager, AvePoint