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Five Steps to Avoid ‘Cloud Sprawl’ and Enhance Business Operations

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Khushbu Raval
Khushbu Raval
Khushbu is a Senior Correspondent and a content strategist with a special foray into DataTech and MarTech. She has been a keen researcher in the tech domain and is responsible for strategizing the social media scripts to optimize the collateral creation process.

Navigate the complexities of cloud adoption with a clear and unified strategy. The crucial steps to prevent ‘cloud sprawl’ and address compliance and security issues.

Enterprises have adopted cloud technologies piecemeal, addressing specific needs as they arise. Sometimes, they have selected cloud services independent of the IT organization. Without a centralized strategy for cloud adoption, organizations are subject to “cloud sprawl”,  which drives up costs and can lead to compliance and security issues.

Ways To Implement A Clear Cloud Strategy

Developing a cloud strategy meeting enterprises’ priorities is essential without making operations miserable. We have listed five steps to clarify and unify your cloud strategy.

  • Enable Continuous Delivery of Custom Code

Digital business transformation will present an existential threat to many businesses. Brick-and-mortar stores are perhaps the most visible example. Still, nearly every business wants to compete via digital services to help them interact better with customers or reduce costs. 

All these digital services require constantly evolving software to keep up with competitors, which drives agile development and DevOps practice requirements. DevOps requires continuous delivery of code changes that demand the immediate availability of infrastructure for deployment, for which infrastructure as a service (IaaS) and containers are ideally suited.

This will make continuous delivery of prime importance to the cloud strategy. When evaluating the key pillars that best enable the organization to implement continuous delivery, you can consider topics like: 

    • Single or multi-source IaaS vendor for deployments
    • Infrastructure as code
    • Container Strategy
    • Clouse disaster recovery
  • Prioritize Cloud Migrations

For off-the-shelf applications, there is a question of whether to move them to the cloud or retain them on-premise. It is most commonly a cost-reduction effort, but not every application will cost less simply by running in the cloud. Elasticity is the real key to cost savings. This means that applications with highly variable usage, generally called busty applications, should be prioritized for migration to the cloud. Otherwise, you are paying for on-premise resources you don’t require. Or you are scrambling to grow your VM capacity or provide another means of infrastructure expansion.

A few points you can consider for app migrations beyond cost savings: 

  • Is there a workload that should be off-limits for cloud migration?
  • Is there sufficient capacity and network bandwidth at branch offices that need access?
  • Is the app eligible for serverless computing?
  • Does the application need the agility that the cloud offers?
  • What is the impact of running a workload remotely on interdependent apps?

These pointers can be tested with pilot programs before migrating at full scale. To make life easy, cloud service brokerages (CSBs) and automated migration tools are available.

  • Consider SaaS for Non-Revenue-Generating Applications

While infrastructure in the cloud may be a priority, many enterprises have already adopted SaaS, a choice driven by business selection. Likely, the business will still look for IT support for SaaS, so it needs to be brought under one governance umbrella. Beyond the business penchant for shadow file-sharing, SaaS is an area to consider as an alternative delivery method for applications that are non-core to revenue generation. Email, service desk, CRM, and payroll are common to most businesses, but there is a SaaS option for just about any software. 

The downside can be over five years, and licensing for SaaS applications might be more expensive. The total cost of ownership depends on other factors, such as server costs, hosting fees, and operations salaries.  

  • Deal with Legacy Applications

While most new applications get deployed in the cloud and are purposely built to live and run in the cloud, many businesses still rely on legacy software or applications. Here is software that allows you to deploy existing COBOL applications to new platforms, including IaaS. Moving applications from physical or virtual servers to the cloud can also be automated. Automating these migrations is critical to testing the approach and minimizing downtime and data loss during cutover while reducing the cost of the migration in terms of operations time to an acceptable level weighed against the benefit gained.

  • Govern the Overall Strategy

Without governance, strategy is prone to become little more than ink on dead trees in plastic binders. The cloud is not just a technology but an operating model.

What needs to be done to govern the overall strategy:

  • Have you adjusted your provisioning and management processes for a hybrid approach?
  • Do operations have a way of understanding the configurations of workloads – including who owns them, where they are running, and how they are updated?

From a policy perspective, the security teams should be involved in understanding what the cloud vendor is responsible for and what policy controls should be managed internally, both for risk and compliance purposes. At a minimum, the organization must enforce identity and access controls. Centralizing all cloud access can simplify the overall strategy. 

Cloud vendor lock-in is a challenge to consider when selecting a vendor. So, can you get to your data on whether the relationship sours or if a better offering emerges in the future?

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