Is Cloud Sprawl Ticking Off Your IT Team?

If it is, finish reading this blog, and go apologize to them – maybe bring them a pizza and a six-pack.

Why? Because if dealing with the security headaches around Bring-Your-Own-Device (BYOD) policies wasn’t bad enough, IT teams are also racing to address the effects of Bring-Your-Own-Cloud (BYOC) practices, particularly cloud sprawl.

Cloud sprawl occurs when individual departments deploy their own applications in the cloud that haven’t been vetted by IT to ensure the organization’s security and compliance standards are met. Many of these departments – also known as Shadow IT – are lured by the ease in which they can purchase and deploy applications. In many cases, all it takes is a swipe of a credit card and before you can say, “Extra cheese; hold the anchovies,” you’re in the cloud. All of that confidential, business-critical data you’re storing is outside the company firewall and outside of IT’s control. And if you’re like many people, you’re probably using the same log-in credentials for your department’s cloud application as you are for your iTunes account. Hackers love it when you do that.

Do you see where I’m going with this? cloud sprawl

OK, here’s another reason why IT gets cranky when multiple departments “go rogue” on them. Say you’re in marketing and your team decides to set up their own cloud storage app to house their confidential info. Your sales development team has the same idea, but decides to go with another company’s cloud offering. And then your contracts department follows suit, but uses another cloud storage provider. Then, marketing decides that they need to share some of their files with their colleagues in sales development and contracts. Who do you think they call when they find out that the systems aren’t compatible with each other?

And finally . . .

Cloud sprawl can contribute to the underutilization of existing cloud resources that IT has already invested in. Why? Some organizations harbor the perception that “IT doesn’t move fast enough.” So rather than go through the process of requesting a cloud application from IT, they think they can “get something faster” on their own. In many cases, IT already has the cloud resources they need – no one bothered to ask them. Those assets languish in a data center while departments use “solutions” that pose risks to their organization’s security and compliance.

So how do you address cloud sprawl before it becomes a problem?

  • Create a strategic plan that outlines and allocates your cloud assets. List which assets are being used by which department and if it’s for a permanent or temporary initiative. Review and update your plan quarterly.
  • Collaborate with an experienced cloud solution provider (CSP) to architect custom cloud(s). Do not let a CSP try to sell you a one-size-fits-all solution. Solicit feedback and insights from the departments who will actually use the cloud. Use that info to create solutions that meet their needs for today and scale for what’s ahead.
  • Determine where your cloud solutions will reside, how they will be operated and who will have authority to request changes, order additional capacity, or add and remove users.
  • Assign a cloud manager. This person resides within your IT team and manages your shiny new cloud to ensure it’s being utilized property and not being mucked up with data clutter.
  • Develop a policy that outlines how departments request and utilize cloud assets. Share it with the entire company and review it with your employees regularly.

Now, go get that pizza. Your IT team will thank you!

Contact us to learn how HOSTING’s custom cloud solutions can keep your IT team happy and help you avoid cloud sprawl.


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