Data centers are often called server farms, and with good reason. As a farm has a variety of fields and buildings dedicated to specific crops, livestock and other functions, a data center has specific segments devoted to server, storage, network, power and cooling resources. A normal farm grows crops or livestock, while a server farm is about cultivating a company's data and technology services. Managing a business' technologies becomes much more complicated now that data centers are expanding beyond their traditional walls.
Imagine trying to run a farm where fields are in different geographical areas and a wide range of stakeholders have say in what gets planted without having to ask managers. If applied to a data center, this would be a disaster and it is the central problem of cloud sprawl.
"One way that you can solve cloud sprawl is to work with a partner that cares just as much about your success as you do."
What is cloud sprawl?
Cloud sprawl is a situation in which organizations end up with a cloud solutions footprint that becomes so large that it pushes beyond their fiscal boundaries or becomes extremely difficult to manage. This usually happens for one of two reasons:
Shadow IT: The consumerization of IT movement has left some organizations giving non-technology employees the ability to purchase access to apps, cloud backup resources and similar third-party services without oversight from IT. Over time, these policies can lead to business units making large purchases without oversight from IT, essentially creating a shadow IT department that technology professionals no longer control. Such a situation can lead to huge problems as cloud purchasing can quickly get out of hand.
Interoperability problems: Various cloud solutions often struggle to get along with one another. IT teams that are not careful about which systems they subscribe to can end up frequently adding new cloud apps, services and infrastructure to meet various business demands because their existing systems are missing a feature or don't work well with a new internal solution. These types of purchasing policies can quickly lead to a large pool of wasted cloud resources.
Dealing with cloud sprawl
Control is the central issue here. On the surface the solution sounds simple – get your IT department in line. However, it isn't that easy. Consumerization has created an environment in which users will chase after the solutions they want regardless of what IT says. Furthermore, corporate pressure on IT departments, or IT workers who are too busy to make strategic decisions, can lead to poorly judged cloud purchases. Balancing control and convenience is key.
One way that you can solve cloud sprawl is to work with a partner that cares just as much about your success as you do. Balancing enterprise cloud solutions with basic app services can help you get more control over the core cloud configuration, and a good cloud hosting provider can help you gain the visibility and transparency into the cloud that you need to protect against sprawl. Combining a more strategic balance of different cloud systems with a collaborative partnership can help you find the balance of control and accessibility that is required when it comes to avoiding cloud sprawl, making it easier to keep your server farm under control.