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

8th January 2018

Techopedia describes cloud sprawl as ‘the uncontrolled proliferation’ of a business’s cloud presence. Sounds like another disaster waiting to happen, doesn’t it?

Whether you’re researching cloud sprawl because of IT costs, the need to update and improve IT infrastructure, or concerns about cybersecurity threats, cloud sprawl is something you can control with appropriate management.

How does cloud sprawl happen?

The use of the cloud has continued to increase dramatically over the last few years – both company and personal usage.   It’s quite common to find that a business, dependant on their size, have anything from a couple, up to 100+ cloud solutions, running with varying levels of security and cost.

It’s also inevitable that an IT department doesn’t have full visibility or control over those solutions (known as ‘shadow IT’) which means ongoing pay-as-you-go IT costs not associated with an IT budget.

If you think about the variety of different vendors that provide a cloud solution you begin to realise the scope of the problem.  Listed below are just a few examples.

  • Email providers – Gmail and Outlook
  • CRM systems – MS Dynamics and Pipedrive
  • Online storage – Dropbox and OneDrive
  • Social sharing – Instagram and Pinterest
  • Web hosting – WordPress
  • Platform development and server storage – Azure

Within any business, there will be employees tackling different situations with different cloud solutions, to serve a need quickly and move forward with a project. If a business has remote or home-based workers, multiple offices or needs to pass data to customers or third parties, they’re probably using a cloud provider.

What can you do to fix it?

You first step should address your current setup within the IT department and then across each area of the business.  Identifying all uses of the cloud used by all employees, building a clear picture of the requirements by understanding the current vendor choice, and assessing costs. A good place to start is looking at the pay-as-you-go costs generated across the business.

Next, look at what’s most important to your business.  Here are few ideas to consider:

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

Prioritise your needs to choose a suitable vendor(s) and then work out any migration strategies.

Finally, establish good user policies – keeping a balance of control but avoid creating an oppressive IT culture and improve communication between each department and IT.

 

Top tip: If IT costs are at the top of your priority list?

If you use Microsoft Azure, there’s a piece of software available to you which can track, monitor and gain insights.  It’s called ‘IT Cost Control’ which is a financial management system that analyses data, usage, and allows configuration within your Azure cloud architecture to perform a full cost audit.

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