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Beware the dreaded scourge of cloud sprawl: Act now or lose control

The cloud was supposed to save us. So, why are we now suffering from dreaded cloud sprawl, and what should we do about it? Cloud computing was never supposed to be like this.

Simplify. It's a key reason why enterprises fall for the allure of cloud computing. Simplify the infrastructure to the point of perhaps of dumping it altogether. Simplify staffing. Simplify data storage. Simplify access. Simplify -- and reduce -- IT spending. Yes, it's SaaS: simplification as a service.

Alas, for many, it hasn't worked out that way. As enterprises find it necessary to access multiple software-as-a-service (SaaS) applications from multiple providers, employees face the prospect of separate sign-ons for each app, combined with a penchant to store data, well, who knows where. The result is the dreaded scourge known as cloud sprawl.

At Cloud Computing Expo in New York City, Tim Minahan, a senior vice president at Citrix, is slated to present a session dealing with this rapidly expanding scourge. His presentation, "Cloud Sprawl: The Rising Epidemic and What to Do About It," is scheduled for Wednesday, June 6, 2017, at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center, beginning at 5:40 p.m. Minahan previewed his session for SearchCloudApplications.

Citrix's own tagline is, 'Making the world's apps and data secure and easy to access. Anywhere. At any time.' Yet, cloud sprawl is making it tougher. What happened?

Tim Minahan: People adopted the cloud for many good reasons. Some were wooed by the promise of a lower total cost of ownership, or agility or faster innovation. It's the preferred way of accessing and delivering technology, with more than 90% of enterprises using public cloud apps.

Tim Minahan, CitrixTim Minahan

It sounds positively irresistible. So, again, what happened?

Minahan: Businesses are discovering that rapid cloud adoption comes with the unexpected side effect of sprawl that adds significant complexity. A typical organization now uses more than a dozen sanctioned cloud apps and will shift more than half of all its workloads to the cloud by 2018. Those cloud investments deliver measurable benefits, but they also result in the unintended side effects of cloud sprawl -- complexity for users and risk for IT.

Businesses are discovering that rapid cloud adoption comes with the unexpected side effect of sprawl that adds significant complexity.
Tim Minahansenior vice president at Citrix

Complex and risky in what sense?

Minahan: The complexity is that 60% of employees are using the cloud to store [data] and share it with colleagues. Users are forced to navigate multicloud environments, where each have different credentialing requirements and sign-on procedures. The risk is that IT doesn't know where sensitive data resides, and the multicloud, multiprovider scenario is difficult for IT to manage. There is great benefit to being in the cloud, but we have gotten into a mess.

The obvious question is what do we do about cloud sprawl?

Minahan: IT needs a more comprehensive way of working with SaaS apps and in-the-cloud file storage. We still need to bridge that legacy custom apps and cloud data storage. The solution is to look at a new cloud service aggregation or cloud orchestration model that offers a single point of access and a single sign-on for all services, regardless of user device type or login location. The idea is to have single control points for IT to onboard and monitor all apps and all content.

Joel Shore is news writer for TechTarget's Business Applications and Architecture Media Group. Write to him at jshore@techtarget.com or follow @JshoreTT on Twitter.

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