Cloud Sprawl: The Problem of Too Many Clouds

What do you do when there are just too many cloud options? Even though you have your head in the clouds, don't forget about ground control!

Bill Kleyman

October 28, 2014

3 Min Read
Cloud Sprawl: The Problem of Too Many Clouds

Several years ago, when virtualization first entered the market, there was a good adoption rate until it became a mainstream platform. Before long, administrators were working with this new technology, spinning up new servers, creating new workloads, and often forgetting to manage those instances. So, we had a VM sprawl issue. There were too many VMs in a given environment and not enough visibility to control those virtual instances. Now, with the wide adoption of cloud computing, we are beginning to see the same problem, but with a new name: Cloud Sprawl.

Managing your cloud

Believe it or not, this is actually becoming a bit of a problem. Administrators are working with a very new technology and are beginning to expand their WAN (or cloud) presence far beyond what they originally thought would be possible. IT consumerization has been the main driver behind this push as has been the demand for more distributed computing systems. Unlike virtualization or even desktop sprawl, administrators have the opportunity to get control of the cloud environment sooner rather than later.

  • No longer just a one cloud option. Many organizations now have two or more cloud environments all under one roof. Some organizations have private as well as ac public cloud presence. Within those environments, there are numbers virtual instances and workloads running. Although these types of advancements are healthy, keep an eye on cloud resources and make sure that there is always an element of control.

  • Get the right management tools in place. Whether they are native or third -party, you have to maintain constant visibility into your environments. With a number of different platforms working, get a tool that’s agnostic to the underlying systems.

  • Train and get certified. No need to explain this further, but learn your platform and understand how everything works together. The only way to control a diverse environment is to understand how the underlying components work.

  • Have a change management platform. For large, multi-cloud environments, a change management system must be in place. Making changes on a cloud platform can include firewall, switch, storage and end-point modifications. Keep logs and track of what changes are being made will help control sprawl by giving administrators visibility into changes within the environment.

  • Begin with the end (goals) in mind. To help control cloud sprawl plan out your deployment(s) ahead of time. Know how many servers and systems will be required and how the cloud model will be designed. My having a hardened plan in place, it’ll be easier to follow the strategy instead of trying to develop one as you move along. One of the key points here is to create a cloud strategy which is capable of scaling with the needs of the organization. Anything too rigid may not be conducive to the goals of the business.

New tools around automation are helping ease the pain of managing a variety of cloud environments. Open source technologies now directly connect heterogeneous platforms to create one logical control plane. Still, engineers are seeing more virtual resources being used, more policies being deployed – and more users depending on cloud services. At this point, there’s really no getting away from cloud computing; this compute platform is here to stay. With that in mind, make sure to always control your resources whether in the data center or in the cloud.

The bottom line is that the use of the Internet is going to increase. Our current data-on-demand society is going to require their information fast and flexible. Because of this market push, organizations will want to adopt some kind of cloud strategy to meet industry demands. In the process of moving to an even greater cloud model - never forget about the importance of ground control.

About the Author(s)

Bill Kleyman

Bill Kleyman has more than 15 years of experience in enterprise technology. He also enjoys writing, blogging, and educating colleagues about tech. His published and referenced work can be found on Data Center Knowledge, AFCOM, ITPro Today, InformationWeek, NetworkComputing, TechTarget, DarkReading, Forbes, CBS Interactive, Slashdot, and more.

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