IT’s Cloud Dilemma: Flexibility vs. Control
For those who have taken their first tentative steps into the cloud, it may be hard to sympathize with those who say their cloud infrastructures are getting out of control. But as the deployment process becomes less onerous and business units and even individuals start to spin up their own resources, the once simple cloud can very quickly become a significant burden.
And in many cases, the rise of rogue clouds and cloud sprawl means that novice enterprises do have a problem with cloud management – they just don’t know it yet.
According to consulting firm PMG, unauthorized cloud usage is emerging as one of the top concerns among IT professionals. While nearly 90 percent of knowledge workers say they understand the risks of cloud computing, barely half of IT pros say they have formal policies in place governing the use of external cloud resources. And only 20 percent say they are effective at educating users on the security risks and other pitfalls of the cloud, which run the gamut from compliance and discovery to application management and data integration.
On the plus side to the PMG survey, more than 70 percent of IT leaders say users are inclined to use the private cloud when available, and that new techniques are starting to emerge to combat cloud sprawl, including newly dedicated IT personnel to field cloud requests and the establishment of corporate-wide cloud services policies.
Indeed, the battle to control the cloud must be waged on two fronts, according to Scott Lowe of the 1610 Group. One is technological, with advanced management and visibility platforms that extend beyond the data center into the world of dynamic, third-party infrastructure. The other is educational, as many users, flush with the power to create their own IT environments with no one else the wiser, are unlikely to keep broader organizational goals in mind. In the end, it may be inevitable that corporate data will wind up on unauthorized, uncontrolled infrastructure, which means users must be kept apprised as to what is and is not acceptable in the cloud.
This level of uncertainty is leading to a cottage industry of specialists who, for a fee, will guide both users and enterprises in the ways of the cloud. Cloud brokers like Accenture are already claiming $1 billion and more in revenues by not only matching users with providers but delivering a wide range of optimization and integration services to ensure that the cloud experience remains a positive one. In this way, enterprises gain access to infrastructure and services from multiple providers while offloading much of the management and oversight to the broker.
As cloud computing becomes more common, top enterprise executives will likely find themselves caught in a push/pull conundrum. Users will continue to push for more flexibility while IT will pull for greater control. These twin goals are not necessarily mutually exclusive, but they can get in the way of each other if the cloud deployment strategy and guidelines are not clearly defined.
Brokers and other middlemen can help, but ultimately it is the organization that bears responsibility for the care and management of its data.