How do you know if your business is suffering from cloud sprawl?

Cloud sprawl – the increasing volume of resources being used (and paid for) can be a major problem for businesses and is something that needs to be reviewed and managed to protect your bottom line.  If you are seeing increased IT costs or simply want to streamline your IT Infrastructure, cloud sprawl is something you can manage and control.

How does cloud sprawl happen?

Cloud usage has increased dramatically over recent years – this applies to both companies and personal cloud usage.  It is not uncommon to find that a business has up to 100+ cloud solutions, running with varying levels of security and cost and limited oversight over the full range of services that are siphoning money from the overall IT budget. 

In some cases, non-IT teams can provision additional cloud services or resources such as storage or transfer that are outside the main IT budget – this is often known as Shadow IT.

When you consider how many software as a service suppliers there are, you can see the scale of the problem. These are just a few examples.

  • Email providers – Gmail and Outlook
  • CRM systems – Dynamics with SharePoint and Pipedrive
  • Online storage – Dropbox and OneDrive
  • Social sharing – Instagram and Pinterest
  • Web hosting – WordPress and GoDaddy
  • Platform development and server storage – Microsoft Azure and Amazon AWS

Employees in an organisation may be tackling their own workflows and needs with different solutions.  In some cases, this is to serve an immediate need, whereas in others it may have become a backbone service of the business.

With increased remote working, there can be services added with limited oversight that fall outside businesses preferred solutions – examples of this might be the use of Zoom rather than Teams, or collaboration through Google Apps rather than Office 365. 

This type of splintered IT approach can create issues with data governance and security and must be reviewed and managed consistently.

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How can you fix Cloud Sprawl?

The first step is to review the services that the IT department have deployed and then review this against all employees. 

This can benefit your organisation in the long term as it helps you understand how workflows are evolving and provide a picture of the actual real-world requirements of your team when it comes to IT services.  Reviewing the subscriptions managed by different teams across the business will show the size of your shadow IT budget.

Once you understand the full scope of cloud services used in your organisation, it is important to look at where there are strict requirements for usage, and at what services are considered core IT deliveries.  Key factors that form part of this review include:

  • Data sovereignty
  • Data security
  • Stability of access
  • Backups and risk management
  • Management services
  • Resource monitoring and auto-scaling of workloads
  • Hybrid capability
  • VM migration
  • Regional support
  • Hosting to comply with GDPR
  • Cost control

For all of these areas, it is useful to identify where a solution used by a non-IT team duplicates something that falls under IT management and consider which works best for the company – in some cases the end user preferred solution may be more effective for their work.  

Going forward, define a best practice approach within your organisation that creates cost transparency and allows services to be managed centrally.  It is not always necessary to create an oppressive IT culture, and improved communication and stressing the benefits of central management for cost control can help you better track where spend is going and ultimately reduce wastage and duplication across the business.

We can help manage your cloud costs and extend your in-house team's cloud knowledge for AWS & Azure. Our CloudOps is a financial management system for AWS and Azure that analyses data around usage and resource identifies waste in your cloud environment and helps you perform a full cost audit that can save your business up to 30% on your cloud costs.

If you want to speak to us about your cloud infrastructure then one of our certified consultants can help. Just get in touch.




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