The Cure for Cloud Sprawl
Enterprises are shifting to a cloud-first footing. That’s no secret. But just as companies and their IT teams are getting used to the idea of going to the cloud, now they need to anticipate—and lay the groundwork for—a multi-cloud environment. That’s the IT world these days: solve one challenge, and four more appear.
Success in the multi-cloud world will depend greatly upon solutions and services that help enterprises operationalize data, making sure all the moving parts adhere to governance and compliance protocols.
The Challenges of Multi-Cloud
Juggling multiple software platforms, server instance types, security policies, operating system images and application-specific requirements taxes already-stretched resources. Every project turns into three or four projects, because every app and service needs to be tweaked for each cloud platform. It can lead to constant rewriting of the entire deployment instruction script and ultimately, cloud sprawl.
The multi-cloud world can also promote the spread of shadow IT within the enterprise. In many companies, the manual processes used to deploy and manage cloud services can take days or weeks to complete. Once the services are available, end users are disconnected from lifecycle operations and must rely on help desk interactions to get their jobs done. This process can be slow and delay end users from completing their tasks or worse yet, force users into going it on their own with the swipe of a credit card, putting them outside the control of IT.
The Tools to Operationalize It All
There’s a rapidly emerging market of multi-cloud management solutions and services. To be nimble in the multi-cloud world, you should zero in on tools that have the following features. It’s not so much a wish list as it is a must-have list.
Blueprint design tool. It should be cloud-agnostic and translate well when moving from our cloud provider to another. Overall, it will reduce the hours of work it takes to create and deploy cloud services. By abstracting the different elements of the creation workflow, it also simplifies the design of cloud services by auto-generating an execution plan. This plan will bring together all the up-to-date elements of the blueprint and automatically generate corresponding service catalog items.
Easy-to-set compliance. Governance (e.g. approvals, quotas, permissions) and compliance (e.g. data center selection, security settings) policies should be defined independently and applied at run-time across any cloud.
Single-pane control panel. Developers who want to test their code on a multi-tier test environment (e.g: development to acceptance to production) should be able to do so with a simple click of a button.
User portal with drag-and-drop ease. A good user experience curbs shadow IT. The end user should be able to easily access their personalized service catalog to launch new services, manage lifecycle operations of stacks or individual resources and manage consumption against costs, usage and quotas.
A single system of record. This should discover and manage all cloud resources and provide seamless integration with incident, problem and change management. This type of system will automatically route issues and requests through the standard IT processes.
Be Ready for the Next Shift
Acceleration into the cloud and multi-cloud—and beyond—is making it imperative for businesses of all sizes to be ready. It’s vital to set yourself up for success in an ever-shifting tech-scape. The kind of seamless automation we envision for developers and users in the multi-cloud environment will allow a business to scale nimbly as their cloud usage increases exponentially. And, that is something that will put a smile on the face of everyone in the C-suite and the IT department.
By Allan Leinwand
Allan Leinwand is chief technology officer at ServiceNow , the enterprise cloud company. In this role, he is responsible for overseeing all technical aspects and guiding the long-term technology strategy for the company.
Before joining ServiceNow, Leinwand was chief technology officer – Infrastructure at Zynga, Inc. where he was responsible for all aspects of technology infrastructure used in the delivery of Zynga’s social games including data centers, networking, compute, storage, content distribution and cloud computing.
Previously, Leinwand was a venture partner for Panorama Capital, LLC where he focused on technology investments in data networking, open source software and cloud computing. Prior to this role, he served as an operating partner at JPMorgan Partners.
Leinwand currently serves as an adjunct professor at the University of California, Berkeley where he teaches on the subjects of computer networks, network management and network design. He holds a bachelor of science degree in computer science from the University of Colorado at Boulder.