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5 Essential Strategies to Curtail Cloud Sprawl and Enhance IT Efficiency

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The democratization of the cloud within the enterprise has liberated operational costs, productivity, and innovative possibilities across departments, forming the backbone of digital transformation. However, this freedom has also led to unchecked cloud sprawl, complicating security and cost containment efforts. According to the RightScale 2017 State of the Cloud Report, 53 percent of all cloud users and 64 percent of mature cloud users estimate that 30 percent of cloud spend is wasted.

Cloud sprawl, the rampant growth of cloud-based computing resources beyond the needs of the user base, poses significant challenges for organizations. Managing and controlling this sprawl is critical to a comprehensive IT strategy. Below is a checklist to develop an actionable plan for managing cloud sprawl:

1. Clearly Define and Communicate the Cloud Strategy

A foundational step in combating cloud sprawl involves creating a clear cloud implementation plan and communicating it effectively to all stakeholders. This includes detailing migration and use policies, role-based access control, and cost-benefit analyses. Accurate upfront expectations can streamline implementation and ensure adherence to the cloud strategy.

Integrating ServiceNow for IT service management can facilitate this communication, providing a unified platform for tracking cloud use, costs, and compliance. ServiceNow's capabilities in managing workflows and automating IT service processes complement this strategic clarity.

2. Develop a Cloud Migration Strategy

A well-thought-out cloud migration strategy can preempt cloud sprawl by ensuring a clear understanding of which workloads to migrate, their destinations, and the rationale behind these moves. This requires a comprehensive analysis of the current IT landscape, which can be enhanced through FNTS's Strategic Technology Planning services, offering expertise in aligning cloud migration with broader business objectives.

3. Conduct Regular Cloud Audits

Performing cloud services health checks can identify and mitigate sprawl by evaluating applications, VM instances, compute, storage, security, and other infrastructure components. Regular audits help align cloud usage with security policies, compliance standards, and organizational needs, ensuring resources are optimized and not wasted.

4. Implement Role-Based, Automated Identity Management

Establishing a strong governance framework based on role-based access controls prevents unauthorized cloud resource creation. Automating identity and access management through ServiceNow ensures that cloud services provisioning aligns with organizational roles and policies, enhancing security and preventing sprawl.

5. Develop Cloud Policy and Protocol Triggers

Fundamental cloud policies can effectively mitigate sprawl, including controls for automatic workload shutdown, BYOD policies, and VPN use protocols for remote access. These policies should be dynamically responsive to evolving needs, ensuring cloud resources are efficiently utilized without contributing to sprawl.

Creating a Holistic Approach to Cloud Management

Beyond these strategies, a holistic approach to cloud management is essential. This approach integrates discovery, education, technology, protocols, and governance, adapting to the organization's changing needs. Utilizing ServiceNow as a management platform offers a cohesive solution for overseeing cloud resources across multiple providers. This ensures standardized security policies and controls, providing transparency, monitoring, and governance across all cloud services.

Ultimately, cloud sprawl is symptomatic of a broader challenge: the need for a unified strategy that encompasses transparency, communication, and governance in cloud utilization. By adopting a comprehensive approach that leverages strategic planning, automation, and unified management platforms like ServiceNow, businesses can effectively manage their cloud resources, minimizing costs and waste while maximizing efficiency and security.