What Is Cloud Sprawl? And Three Ways to Control It

Many companies have been able to save on IT costs and innovate faster thanks to the cloud, but what happens when a company has more cloud resources than it needs and cloud sprawl takes over? 

Wasted cloud spend is becoming top of mind for many business leaders. The problem is few companies start with a documented cloud strategy, which has given way to a rise in cloud sprawl and higher costs and security risks. Business 2 Community estimated that wasted cloud spend would exceed $26.6 billion in 2021 based on data collected by Gartner. 

Let’s look at how you can stop cloud sprawl from overtaking your environment and driving up your cloud bill.

What Is Cloud Sprawl?

Most companies today use more than one cloud provider. While embracing a hybrid or multi-cloud strategy provides several key benefits, cloud resources can spread uncontrollably without a plan for governance in place and create a headache for everyone. 

But what is cloud sprawl exactly, and how does it spread out of control?

In a nutshell, cloud sprawl is when a company lacks control over or visibility into the spread of its cloud instances, services, or providers across the organization. It usually happens as a result of mismanagement, misconfiguration, or improper monitoring of a cloud environment. 

For example, when a developer starts an instance but forgets to power it down overnight, or different teams begin using two separate cloud providers for the same services — that’s cloud services starting to sprawl. 

Often, companies are unaware it’s a problem until security issues and unexpected cloud costs crop up. 

Cloud Sprawl Risks

Unchecked cloud sprawl can affect everything within an organization, from security down to data integrity. The symptoms of cloud sprawl usually crop up as:

  • Unnecessary costs: Staying within budget is critical for companies using public cloud services. With a lack of monitoring, companies pay for idle or forgotten workloads that aren’t being used and incur more costs. 
  • Security risks: Forgotten and unmonitored workloads also present more opportunities for hackers to attack while flying under the radar. 
  • Inefficiency: Suppose anyone within an organization can access cloud resources without the proper governance, or separate departments use different cloud providers for the same services. It could create redundancies when you’re working with many cloud providers. 

How to Stop Cloud Sprawl

Once you identify the cause of your organization’s cloud sprawl, you can do a few things to keep it in check. 

Devise a Cloud Strategy

Adopting and implementing a company-wide cloud strategy with stakeholders is one way to prevent and rein in cloud sprawl and define what cloud computing looks like for your organization. While your specific strategy will depend on your business needs and use case, cloud strategies typically include migration policies, operating and managing cloud services, and user controls and access. 

Take Advantage of Automation Tools

Automation tools can also help wrangle and contain cloud sprawl. A benefit of working with a major cloud provider is that you get access to tools that can help prevent cloud resources from proliferating across your organization. 

Services such as Google Cloud’s Security Command Center can help you gain centralized visibility and control of your Google Cloud resources and automate policy configuration. 

Work with a Cloud Partner 

Actively monitoring your cloud environment and documenting usage and costs can be time-consuming. A cloud partner like 66degrees can provide insights, tooling, recommendations, Managed Cloud Optimization, and assistance as you configure your cloud environment. 

Talk to a Google Cloud Expert

With the right planning, companies can avoid wasted resources and keep cloud sprawl in check. Connect with an expert to learn more about our Managed Google Cloud Optimization program and kickstart your cloud cost optimization initiatives.

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