3 Steps to Control Cloud Sprawl

3 Steps to

Control Cloud Sprawl

3 Steps to Control Cloud Sprawl

The cloud can provide organizations with a wealth of benefits such as flexibility, scalability and increased collaboration that can offer improvements across an entire organization. Given the benefits the cloud can deliver, it’s no wonder analysts are predicting that almost every organization will use the cloud on some level by 2020. As cloud solutions become more prevalent, however, organizations need to address the novel challenges that the cloud presents.

One such challenge is cloud sprawl. Cloud sprawl occurs when cloud instances, services, or providers are adopted without regulation across the entire organization. It results in massive overspending on the cloud, which can blindside your organization with far greater expenses than anticipated. Without a strictly enforced set of regulations regarding cloud purchasing and cloud spending, any organization is likely to face cloud sprawl to some degree. To solve this problem, we first need to understand just how cloud sprawl occurs.

How Does Cloud Sprawl Happen?

In short, cloud sprawl occurs when organizations lose track of who is purchasing cloud-based software, and consequently lose track of where those cloud resources are located and who is using them. There are two key factors that regularly contribute to cloud sprawl in organizations:

Low Barrier to Entry

The cloud is almost too appealing. It has a low upfront cost, which can be a bit disarming to departments within organizations. Running a new cloud instance seems low risk, which is simple to justify to stakeholders within a department. As a result, lines of business within the organization are more comfortable downloading cloud services when they may not be totally necessary. It’s estimated that organizations are using about 16 different Software as a Service (SaaS) applications on a daily basis, which is likely due to how simple these SaaS applications are to deploy and consume. Even though organizations can implement a cloud solution with ease, they must still take care to not purchase too many extraneous solutions without disclosing licenses and cost data to procurement teams. 

Poor Visibility and Control

Flexibility and scalability are two of the cloud’s greatest benefits. However, scalability transitions from an asset into a challenge when the costs of these programs grow unchecked. It is difficult to monitor and manage every cloud instance, especially when they are dispersed in every corner of the organization. Some IT teams are able to keep an accurate inventory of their cloud deployments, which is extremely beneficial to visibility and control. However, IT teams aren’t omnipotent – and poor communication and accountability rules between departments can create siloes that hide certain cloud instances.

When other departments purchase cloud software without giving IT the proper prior notice, they’re engaging in a dangerous set of activities called Shadow IT. Shadow IT is prevalent in many organizations, as it is estimated that 40 percent of digital solutions are chosen by departments other than IT. It is necessary to hold every department accountable for the cloud solutions that they download, otherwise IT will not be able to see and manage those cloud deployments.

How Can Cloud Sprawl Be Controlled?

Once the existence of cloud sprawl has been noticed in your organization, the immediate next thought should be controlling and minimizing it. There are three key steps to managing cloud sprawl once it has been found:

Enact Accountability Measures

First, organizations must hold all members of their organization accountable to do their part in controlling cloud spend. By relegating all accountability to IT, your organization’s efforts to control cloud sprawl will be hindered. Identify the key stakeholders – from every department - within your cloud effort and determine what their role should be in cloud spend management efforts. From there, allow the IT team to work with those key stakeholders to establish clear procurement policies and budgets. These policies may create processes for approval before downloading cloud solutions, establish clear tagging initiatives, and more. The policies must be agreeable for employees regardless of department, so do not forget to give every key stakeholder a seat at the table.

Improve Visibility to Track Consumption

After accountability measures have been implemented and clear channels of communication have been opened, organizations should track and take control over their cloud spend. Before your organization can properly track cloud consumption, they must be able to clearly see where all cloud programs exist. Give the key stakeholders an opportunity to determine which metrics sorely need visibility, and how those metrics will be collected.

Consistent tagging is key to these visibility efforts. Take an inventory of every cloud asset that your IT team can locate, and initiate a simple, standardized tagging process. This will help employees across the entire business and cloud environment categorize resources in a way that makes the most sense to them. Once cloud resources are visible, track the organization’s inventory and consumption perpetually.

Use Cloud Portfolio Management Solutions

Managing cloud sprawl manually is a size-able challenge for IT teams due to the breadth of cloud environments – especially as multi-cloud becomes more popular. For that reason, it’s extremely popular for organizations to turn to cloud portfolio management solutions, such as PyraCloud. These platforms can assist with managing current cloud assets and purchasing future cloud solutions. A good cloud portfolio management solution should provide a centralized view into your all of your cloud assets. This includes quotes, orders, and invoices from all cloud software purchased before or after the cloud portfolio solution has been implemented. It should also provide visibility into cloud consumption across multi-cloud environments with the ability to track, report and charge back cloud spend to accountable business units within your organization. 

Organizations may still struggle to find the time or expertise necessary to manage cloud assets, even with the help of cloud portfolio management solutions. If this is the case, consider SAMSimple. This will complement your cloud portfolio management solution and reduce the effort needed to collect, connect, and analyze data on your organization’s cloud. In the end, your organization will have more complete information to better manage their cloud sprawl. 

Final Thoughts

The cloud is an exciting prospect that offers great benefits, but an investment in the cloud isn’t without its drawbacks. To make the most out of your organization’s cloud spend, its necessary to control cloud sprawl in a way that won’t spread your IT team too thin. 

Control Your Cloud Sprawl

To learn more about the ways to control cloud sprawl within your organization’s cloud, visit our PyraCloud offering page.

Discover PyraCloud
  • PyraCloud, Managed Cloud
  • Cloud Sprawl, Cloud Portfolio Management, SAMSimple, SaaS

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Dawn Clifton, Author SoftwareONE Blog

Dawn Clifton

Global Product Marketing Specialist

Cloud Spend Management, PyraCloud

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