SAN FRANCISCO — A common misconception about cloud adoption in the enterprise is that it starts with the CIO and gradually trickles down to lower-level  IT executives and developers, said Citrix Vice President Sameer Dholakia during a keynote Thursday, May 10, at the company’s annual Synergy conference.

Cloud strategist Geva Perry agreed with that sentiment. According to Perry, who gave a keynote of his own, cloud and software-as-a-service adoption actually is happening in the enterprise from the bottom up, often starting without the CIO’s knowledge.

Employees commonly have been taking a “don’t ask for permission, ask for forgiveness” approach. Perry said it’s been a common occurrence for developers to adopt Amazon Web Services before their bosses. And sales teams often were the first to adopt Salesforce, introducing the product to their companies.

This certainly isn’t the first time enterprises have seen a bottom-up approach to adopting new products and practices. Perry said it also happened with open source software and even when PCs first emerged.

Perry has been observing the IT world for many years, including 15 years as an executive for enterprise software companies. Perry now is a strategist who writes the blog Thinking Out Cloud.

So why are some employees using the cloud without the CIO’s knowledge? Perry said it’s partly due to employees’ motivation. Today’s employee expects the same technology no matter where they are. “We’re getting used to IT at work being as good as IT in our personal life,” Perry said.

Another factor contributing to bottom-up cloud computing is stemming from new employees in the workplace. Perry said the Millennial generation — those born around 1980 and onward — sometimes have “Millennial entitlement”: expecting their IT to work immediately and without problems.

So what should CIOs do when cloud adoption is happening before they consent to it? Perry suggested they follow suit anyway and continue adoption.

“You can’t fight it, you need to embrace it,” Perry said. “Even if you want to stop it, you can’t.”

Tom Simmons, Citrix’s area vice president for public sector and Citrix government systems, said it’s important for government agencies to have finite objectives on what they want to accomplish when looking to adopt the cloud.

And with agencies attempting to stretch dollars more than ever, additional expenditures are no longer an option.

“The idea to throw more money at hardware costs and other costs — those days are gone,” Simmons said.

Sarah Rich, Staff Writer Sarah Rich  |  Staff Writer

In 2008, Sarah Rich graduated from California State University, Chico, where she majored in news-editorial journalism and minored in sociology. Since 2010, Sarah has written for Government Technology magazine and covers a spectrum of public-sector IT topics, including cloud computing, transparency, broadband, and other innovative projects and trends. She currently lives in Sacramento, Calif.