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Identifying and Solving the Cloud Sprawl Problem

An interesting read for me one day last week was the Wall Street Journal reporting on the exploding yet ungoverned use of cloud services by employees in just about every organization.  Referring to Rachael King writing for CIO Journal, author Steve Rosenbush outlines the potential for security problems and the surprising reaction of companies who start to understand how many cloud services employees are really using.

The facts of unregulated cloud usage are surprising, no debate.  A few months back I was talking to an industry analyst and I asked him how many cloud providers enterprise organizations knew they had, and how many were actually being used by employees.  He replied “probably 5 or 6” are known, and “maybe 10 or so are actually in use in total”.  “So maybe double?” I replied to confirm my understanding.   He nearly fell off his chair when I told him what we are finding in Cisco Services engagement, that it’s more like a factor of 10-15 than a factor of 1-2!  (as the following diagram shows)

Cloud Usage

There are two aspects to this problem I’d like to discuss in this blog, identifying the cloud usage and then both consolidating and tidying it up, with the aim of increasing security and saving you money in  the process.  I’ll also related this to two key services we offer in this arena, Cisco Cloud Consumption Services and Cisco Cloud On-boarding Services.

 

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Harnessing the Power of As-a-Service Cloud Offerings

When used wisely, consuming cloud as-a-service (aaS) can dramatically improve business outcomes. Primarily, cloud IT services can promote business agility, reduce expenses, and accelerate time-to-market. They also can provide access to highly trained professionals with focused technical expertise, solving a longstanding problem many IT leaders face with sourcing specialized talent.

Businesses today want speed and flexibility, and cloud IT as-a-service can help them achieve that because they don’t need to procure and deploy hardware and then build, test, and iterate software solutions. Although cloud offerings are attractive because they are readily available and can be deployed quickly, there are several factors to consider when deciding whether to build a solution in-house or outsource it to a cloud provider.

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Bringing clarity to cloud usage: a must-do for shaping more effective IT strategies

Shadow IT isn’t anything new; it is part of human behavior and started with the first mini-computers in family homes. People will always choose the tools that help them do their jobs in the simplest and most efficient way. Unfortunately, when that means using unsanctioned technologies, well intentioned selections can have unintended and potentially dangerous consequences for the company.  These can include: increased security risks, diminished productivity, and increased costs. Additionally, when users select their own cloud services, they inadvertently create silos of information that IT is not unaware of, and potentially create data compliance issues.   By purchasing cloud services on an ad hoc basis, users limit the company’s ability to negotiate volume pricing.

IT leaders and other executives need to make it their responsibility to find out which cloud services are being used, and come to a mutual understanding of which cloud technologies are best for the business. Only through a clear understanding can IT leaders devise cloud strategies that benefit users—and ultimately drive business advancement. At the very least, IT leaders need to become informed brokers. Even better, they may want to establish their own cloud services and merchandize them to reduce costs and better meet user needs.

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Do You Know How Much You Are Spending On Cloud? Hidden Costs of Public Cloud Can be 4-8 Times Higher than Visible Costs

Reducing costs remains amongst the top reasons why organizations use public cloud services. However, when calculating the costs of public cloud services organizations need to look well beyond the license fees and billed costs.

With Cisco Cloud Consumption Services, we have worked with numerous customers to discover their public cloud usage and analyze cloud spend. At Cisco Live Milan, taking place January 26-30, we are sharing public cloud spending trends with our customers. We have found that the hidden or soft costs of public cloud services can be four to eight times higher than visible costs. These soft costs fall in three areas and include business risk, network and security costs, as well as cloud operations and integration.

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The Journey to Becoming an Enterprise Cloud Service Brokerage: From Shadow IT to Hybrid IT

As enterprise cloud use extends to public, private, and hybrid clouds, CIOs and IT leaders are realizing the need to evolve their IT business model to become enterprise cloud service brokerage (CSBs).

Cisco’s Scott Clark recently discussed the value of this new business approach for IT and highlighted that by adopting this approach IT can “provide the right private, hybrid or public cloud service, at the right time, and at the right cost.”

Most organizations are lagging behind in overhaul their business model and evolve into a CSB. Ovum came out with a report citing that only 50% of organizations participating had a cloud strategy in place and “only one-third or less of respondents said they have [cloud] governance, integration, or compliance strategies.” Read More »

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