Cloud spending outside of end users' IT departments is boosting business and freeing up IT budgets to splash the cash on other technology, according to latest VMware research.
At its Forum event, the virtualisation giant claimed that end-user employees buying cloud services individually – or "covert cloud" spending – meant that IT departments affected had an extra £1.4m to play with last year.
The firm's research, commissioned by Vanson Bourne, polled 1,500 IT decision makers and 3,000 office workers in firms with between 100 and 5,000 employees across Europe in March and April this year.
The survey found that IT leaders in businesses affected were planning on implementing 27 per cent of the covertly procured cloud services anyway, meaning their budget was left freed up to spend on other technology.
Of those employees who bought cloud services outside of IT, 65 per cent said they paid for them from their own departmental budgets, while 43 claimed the cost back on expenses and a third put them on the company's credit card.
In the UK, 44 per cent of IT departments asked suspected that staff had bought cloud services without their permission, ahead of the European average of 37 per cent. Nearly half of those in the UK admitting to buying cloud products themselves claimed it was simply to get the job done.
VMware's chief technologist in EMEA Joe Baguley said office workers' cloud spend can often be for the good of the company.
"The research reveals a staggering amount of off-radar cloud spending in European businesses but it is not necessarily money being squandered. Office workers note they are often circumventing the IT department to buy cloud services to work more effectively for the good of the company," he explained.
"The IT department has reached a tipping point where it is no longer an option to ignore the reality of off-radar cloud spend. IT decision makers need to embrace it, providing the flexibility that staff require, while managing it in a way that is suitable and secure for the business."
Despite the chance to free up IT's budget, VMware cautioned that procuring outside of IT can throw up security issues for businesses.
More than three quarters of survey respondents said covert cloud spending increases the risk of security threats, and VMware's Baguley added that greater dialogue is needed between employees and IT departments in order to remain both flexible and secure.
He said: "It is great to see employees taking the initiative to drive innovation and growth but this could come at a premium.
"A proactive approach from IT, with appropriate levels of management, security and visibility, can ensure that covert clouds become a competitive differentiator and do not become a threat to the business."
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