The Dangers of Cloud Sprawl - What is it and How Do You Mitigate It?

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Tuesday, May 3, 2022

Companies face unprecedented growth in their use of cloud services. However, with this growth comes the potential for uncontrolled expansion.

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The Dangers of Cloud Sprawl - What is it and How Do You Mitigate It?
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In a short space of time, the term 'cloud computing' has gone from being a future tech buzzword to an everyday part of business for companies everywhere. But with this increase in usage comes a problem - a phenomenon known as 'cloud sprawl'.

With the COVID-19 pandemic decentralizing many workforces, more businesses than ever have turned to the cloud for document sharing, workflow management and team meetings. As a result, security issues are a major concern for business owners everywhere, and the cloud is no exception.

Moving from onsite servers and hard drives towards remote, accessible storage has been a key feature in the 'new normal'. After all, it's impossible to give up your office space for remote business if you still rely on in-house servers and, as with any paid adoption of new technology, it’s possible, if left unchecked, for things to spiral out of control.

What is cloud sprawl?

Cloud sprawl is defined by TechTarget as the "uncontrolled proliferation of an organization's cloud instances, services or providers''. It occurs when a business doesn’t keep sufficient control over its usage of the cloud as a resource.

As with any resource, if not managed correctly, it's easy to turn the benefits of the cloud into a financial drain that risks your business' future. Forbes lists cloud sprawl as an issue to be aware of as companies move ahead with a switch to all-digital working.

So how can you stop these risks from harming your business' future growth prospects?

Embracing the cloud

A benefit of cloud technology is the option to spread your needs across a variety of platforms, each with its own strengths, and build a customized array of applications that help in day-to-day processes and streamlining business activities. But when businesses fail to monitor the number and type of cloud services they use, they can end up paying for solutions that aren’t needed. Each service has ongoing costs and these can easily get overlooked.

One of the main causes of cloud sprawl is therefore a breakdown in internal communication. Working out which apps you no longer use, where there’s overlap within your organization, understanding who's paying for these systems and figuring out how quickly you can move away from them in order to reduce your overall expenditure is a vital first step.

Another issue for businesses to assess is the over-use of a particular service. Cloud services can scale up to handle vast workloads, but as you may be paying more for higher periods of higher usage, it's important to trim the waste from your workflow. This can be achieved by ensuring staff don’t leave documents open when not in use and to make sure you know what can be done offline.

3 steps to getting control of cloud sprawl

The best way to mitigate the issues associated with cloud sprawl is to keep in mind the three following concepts: Plan, Control, Improve.

1. Plan

Planning is vital in every aspect of modern business. There’s never a bad time to have a plan in place before you begin an expansion or a data transfer, but it's often easy to get caught up in the momentum of new technology. However, even if your cloud usage wasn’t strictly organized from day one, it's never too late to fix this.

The first step in mitigation is to put together a list of all your current services, usage history and payments due. This will allow you to gain a comprehensive picture of the current situation you’re in. It also enables you to plan any further expansion to plug gaps you may have and to start reducing redundant services you don’t need to be paying for.

2. Control

Controlling your usage and analyzing your future needs can help to cut costs quickly. It may be possible to offload some of the services you don’t intend to use and negotiate early deals with service providers before you need the extra room in any particular area. You can also look at automation and how it can further reduce your expenditure to save you the time that could be used to build your business and delight your customers.

3. Improve

It’s also a good idea to look at future-proofing your plans by scheduling a regular review, which helps to avoid price rises and makes sure every service you’re paying for is being utilized and used correctly.

By putting these steps into place, you should see a reduction in unwanted sprawl, an improvement in the control you have over your services and a reduction in overheads.

Cloud technology is a great choice for streamlining your processes and accessing data on the go, but it does need planning. Keeping things under control helps your business make the best of the enhanced flexibility of the cloud and ensures you grow your company and not your expenses.

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