Public cloud computing has empowered business units in ways never imagined just a few years ago. With Amazon Web Services (AWS) and other service providers offering fast, agile and easily accessible resources, increasing numbers of end users are now circumventing corporate IT to avoid the often bureaucratic and slow-moving internal IT processes for acquiring compute resources.

While all of that speed and dexterity improves the productivity and output of businesses units and engineering teams, shadow IT, the distributed IT systems and solutions deployed outside the standard IT process, creates a range of risks and financial hazards for the business. If corporate IT fails to take an aggressive and active leadership position regarding public cloud computing in the enterprise, it risks becoming completely irrelevant as public cloud computing gains momentum.

Shadow IT is not a theoretical problem. PricewaterhouseCoopers estimates 15 to 30 percent of IT spending already occurs outside of the enterprise IT budget, and Gartner expects that by 2016, 35 percent of enterprise IT expenditures will go to shadow IT resources like AWS. So what are the key risks when non-IT professionals create and operate sizable computing environments? One of the first alarms to sound is financial. When the Amazon bills become large, either from one department or several departments combined, corporate finance starts questioning these expenditures.

This is particularly common if the costs are highly variable from month to month. Security or compliance breaches are the second area in which shadow IT becomes a strategic problem in the enterprise, particularly if this becomes publically visible.

Corporate IT has developed significant skills, processes and infrastructure to deal with these issues inside the on-premise data center. On the other hand, most end users have absolutely no experience in managing computing infrastructure with appropriate safeguards.

What’s the right answer? End users needs easy access to cloud-based services, corporate IT needs the ability to monitor and provision resources according to company standards, compliance guidelines and controls, and finance needs to ensure the expenditures are within budget constraints. New technologies in hybrid IT management can fulfill all these needs, while also giving IT the ability to easily migrate workloads between on-premise virtual infrastructure and public cloud accounts as requirements evolve.

While there are a number of technological approaches to support hybrid deployments, the most robust, scalable and easily deployable path to hybrid IT management is via direct extension of existing on-premise virtual infrastructure management solutions, like VMware vCenter, to off-premise resources. This approach leverages existing IT skills, processes and management infrastructure and still enables end users to have all of the independence and flexibility of public cloud computing.

As corporate IT evaluates the best technical approach for hybrid IT management, it’s vitally important that the speed, flexibility and agility drawing end users to public clouds in the first place be preserved in the hybrid model. The most successful models involve corporate IT as a service provider for public cloud resources, enabling an efficient on-ramp, training, management tools and guidance to the business units leveraging public cloud services. If end users perceive heavy-handed and restrictive oversight that impedes productivity, IT will be ignored or rejected altogether.

Corporate IT can deliver tangible value to public cloud consumers in the enterprise by helping them to quickly and effectively use public cloud resources without specialized training, arm managers with real-time tools to monitor workloads, usage and costs, and deliver guidance in the construction and configuration of workloads that will transition in-house for production. By delivering useful tools and operating models for enterprise end users of public cloud resources, IT provides strategic value to the enterprise and end users also benefit.

Public cloud computing in the enterprise is here to stay, and rogue cloud adoption is an easy task for any end user with a credit card. If corporate IT ignores or rejects this fact, they risk obsolescence in an age of consumer choice and independence.

Technologies that enable IT to extend existing management constructs to on-premise services are a straightforward way for corporate IT to take a leadership role and provide real value to the business units, engineering teams and technical end users currently embracing public cloud services like Amazon. The best way to combat shadow IT is to offer users something even better - all the advantages of public cloud computing in an easy-to-consume, compliant, sanctioned manner that is also agile and fast.

Posted vy Lynn LeBlanc, CEO of HotLink

Lynn LeBlanc has more than 25 years of enterprise software and technology experience at both Fortune 500 companies and Silicon Valley start-ups. Prior to founding HotLink, LeBlanc was founder and CEO of FastScale Technology, an enterprise software company acquired by VMware, Inc.