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Cloud Computing

What is the best way to manage cloud sprawl?

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From this report on PC Magazine, Survey Finds Cloud Computing Has Matured, But It Can Be a Pain, one in five executives reports that it's impossible to manage all of the disparate cloud services within their organizations. About 60 percent are worried about unmanaged cloud sprawl. So what is the best way to manage cloud sprawl?

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  • Cloud sprawl is indicative of lack of governance. Going back to early SOA and following through on Cloud the expert advice has been that governance will be the key to success or path to failure. Business needs to focus on implementing appropriate governance processes or disruptive technologies will impair the ability for business to gain the benefits of these disruptions. Case in point, management overhead from sprawl reduces the gains from Cloud.

  • JP hit it on the head with the problem being a lack of governance. The problem is trying to retroactively apply governance to existing services.

    Best answer is: don't let it get out of control in the first place, manage it from day one with policies and processes that are not onerous but enforce more IT control over what is/isn't used. If folks ignore, simply don't allow reimbursement or purchase orders for "credit card" style services *unless* they're governed by IT and approved.

    If it's already in place, stop. Stop right now. Don't take another step forward until you catalog and evaluate all services - using the process you plan to use moving forward - and getting them reined in. The sooner, the better, or it will only get worse.

    Of course if you're worried about discovering all those services, see point "a" (re: payment). Refuse to reimburse/pay for a month and then listen for the howls. That'll tell your IT folks where to start hunting for unmanaged services. If that's not feasible (and it might not be for various reasons) then threaten to do it unless the services are "justified". Let the folks who provisioned/subscribed do most of the work in "discovering" the services so IT can start getting them under management.

  • I think there is more than one kind of cloud sprawl, call them internal and external. External sprawl caused by business managers, etc. signing up for external cloud services is clearly a governance/purchasing/policy problem.

    However, the bigger cloud sprawl is likely to result from internally developed cloud services, e.g., a new visualization initiative. At least with external sprawl you only have to worry about governance. With internal sprawl, you have the much bigger problems caused by immature operations that lack standards and automation. i.e., the services are not provided on-demand, but manually and uniquely instance by instance. This problem must be solved by having the operational expertise and discipline to deliver services on-demand throughout their life-cycle and to avoid rolling them out prematurely.

  • Not to toot my own horn but this is exactly what I talked about back in November of 2009 in my article titled Avoiding the Storms: Why We Need Cloud Governance published right here on ebizQ. The central idea of the article is that without proper planning and oversight (i.e. governance), cloud computing will inevitably have the same story as SOA.

    The complete article can be found at:

  • As the cloud gets wider adoption, people are talking more and more about the "sprawl" problem. In the communication and collaboration space, we evangelize the "unified" approach (integrated communication and collaboration software).

    One approach to avoid the "sprawl" is to plan beyond immediate needs, and prepare for what needs may evolve into. Moreover, look for software which plugs into as many parts of the business tech environment as possible.


  • From cloud-phobia to cloud sprawl, indeed, it could be quite messy having disparate clouds running internally. Governance from Day 1 is ideal but presupposes that top brass had their eyes and head on it all along. Be that as it may, a clear cloud vision of what the organization's goals and of what they hope to accomplish should not stay fire-walled within just IT alone. Call it cloud vision sprawl.

  • Cloud Sprawl normally results in Cloud Spaghetti. Focus on the architecture-- design patterns, standards, and frameworks to help control (govern) the sprawl from becoming more enterprise pasta.

  • Enterprise Architecture done upfront and implemented enables integration and unified governance of internal and Cloud apps.

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