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Gain Intelligence From Cloud Sprawl

July 27, 2015 - 1 Comment

Co-authored with    Bob Dimicco
Robert Dimicco
Senior Director, Advanced Services


How many cloud services do you think your enterprise uses? You’ll be surprised: businesses use ~10-15 X more cloud services – unknowingly. This is what we call ‘cloud sprawl,’ because there are too many cloud services in a given environment and not enough visibility or control for the business.

For organizations wanting to better understand their critical business data, this is especially challenging. First, discovering what cloud services are being used, and second, capturing & analyzing the intelligence from cloud services data can be tough. However, the good news is – Cisco can help with these challenges.


Understanding Cloud Sprawl

Cloud Consumption Services can help customers gain a complete picture of their cloud (SaaS, PaaS and IaaS) use as well as understand cloud risks and costs. Want an example? Recently, we conducted a Cloud Consumption Assessment with a global pharmaceutical and discovered that they were using over 650 individual cloud service providers, including:

  • 60+ human resource management cloud services
  • 40+ finance and accounting cloud services
  • Nearly 40 ERP cloud services
  • 20+ cloud storage services
  • 20+ CRM cloud services
  • 10+ different document management cloud services

Gain Business Intelligence from the Cloud

Each one of these cloud sources holds key information about your customers, your employees and your products and services. This global pharmaceutical highlights how hard it can be for organizations to understand their business data in the cloud. In order to have a 360-view of their business, the global pharmaceutical above needed to obtain data from hundreds of cloud providers. To do this manually is extremely time consuming and expensive. The challenge of making business decisions in a multi-cloud world is that each cloud source creates huge amounts of data. It’s about getting access to that multiplied data, no matter where it is.

At Cisco, our customers use Data Virtualization to connect all kinds of data from multiple sources – making it appear as if everything is consolidated and in one place. This has helped us collect cloud data and perform complex queries that have supported better decision-making. For example, another pharmaceutical company, Pfizer, utilized Cisco Data Virtualization to effectively provide information to researchers and managers from many different sources during the drug discovery process. On average, it takes a new drug 10-15 years to go into the market – with each year, discovery and developments commands billions of dollars in research and testing. By using Data Virtualization, Pfizer sped up its process and reduced the time required to develop drug discovery projects by 50% (from 3-4 months to 6-8 weeks!).

So, the million-dollar question: do you know how many cloud sources are in your environment? Come and learn more about how we can help you gain intelligence from the cloud with Cisco Cloud Consumption Services and Cisco Data Virtualization.

Questions? Feel free to reach out to Mike or Bob!


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  1. I think many companies would be truly shocked to discover just how many cloud services they consume on a day-to-day basis. Its the modern day equivalent of a rogue server hidden under someone’s desk, hosting a cool application that totally bypassed procurement, IT and more importantly security.

    As all industries move to consuming more and more services delivered via the cloud, the importance of understanding exactly where data is being stored and how it is being protected becomes ever more important.

    The almost daily news that someone else has been hacked and their PII, PHI, PCI or IP data is available for sale on a hidden darknet forum somewhere only available via the Tor network, should be enough to wake everyone to the fact that they need to protect this data. It is after all the future of the organization and their jobs at stake!

    Putting in place useful discovery tools to identify unknown cloud services and identity controls like Cisco ISE and Trustsec to control who has access to data and from where, will become an ever-more critical feature of future business growth and the continued success of organizations.

    This is perhaps no more important than for the Pharma industry where the protection of test formulations and clinical research continues to be stolen almost every single day by nefarious nation states intent on dominating the global industry five years from now.

    Great article Mike and I would suggest that everyone take a long hard look at cloud sprawl in his or her own environment as soon as possible.