Stormy WeatherThe late great Billie Holiday once sang, “Don’t know why there’s no sun up in the sky…” For the heroine in Billie’s song the absence of solar visibility was due to she and “her man” not being together, but per a recent article I read, for more and more companies, it’s due to too many clouds. Yes folks, our enthusiasm for all things cloud may be causing things to get a little unwieldy. Apparently the roots of the problem are a combination of a multitude of cloud offerings—to paraphrase the Irish bard, Bono, “pretty soon, everybody got one”—and the old miscalculation espoused by junkies everywhere, “if one is good, two must be better…” The end result, according to the article, is a situation becoming so prevalent that it now has been given its own name, cloud sprawl. Now on the sprawl scale this ranks way below something like we saw in the movie, Invasion of the Body Snatchers–sprawl doesn’t get any worse than aliens taking over the bodies of everyone in the world–but it’s still probably better to nip this one in the bud before it really gets out of hand.

Fortunately for all of us, the article’s author put forth five (5) recommendations to help stop the sprawl in its tracks.

  • No longer just a one cloud option: The point here is that while you should bask in the cornucopia of cloud alternatives available to you, be smart about it by making sure that you know how many you have, which ones support certain applications and alike. Numbering is always nice, or maybe you could give them names, “we keep all the financial stuff on ‘Chuck’”, for example.
  • Get the right management tools in place: This is good since there are a whole bunch of vendors who are willing to help you out with this. You’ve probably already heard from many of them. Three or four times. So finding tools isn’t the problem, having them talk to each other is another story, but as they say, “you have to walk before you run”.
  • Train and get certified: Isn’t it amazing how a technological innovation so often gives birth to whole new standards and qualifications? The cloud business is no different, so sign right up, spend a few days out of the office and come home with a certificate suitable for framing. It may not sound like much, but it’s more than I came back with from my last trip to Vegas.
  • Have a change management platform: In today’s multi-cloud environment this is essential. You need to keep track of who moved what to where and when. Unfortunately, due to compatibility issues (see point three above), this may not be as easy as it sounds so at least make sure you update the spreadsheet on a regular basis.
  • Begin with the end (goals) in mind: Some may feel this is too limiting and point out that virtually every plan changes or, as Mike Tyson used to say, “Everyone has a plan until they get hit”. While things may indeed change, a structured plan ensures your architecture continues to look like distinct clouds and not something you’d only see on a Rorschach test.

Undoubtedly the cloud is here to stay which is good, but its popularity also brings challenges for IT professionals. While cloud sprawl is an emerging problem, it can be vanquished, or at least dramatically negated, by effective planning and forethought. In short, if done correctly, the lack of sunshine you may be experiencing is probably due to an eclipse and not too many clouds.

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