IT and Business Insights for SMB Solution Providers

Cloud Management 201: Unlocking Opportunity, Taming Complexity: Page 2 of 4

A sustainable cloud management strategy must include performance optimization, cost management, data governance, cybersecurity, and more. By Samuel Greengard
Reader ROI: 
TODAY’S COMPLICATED CLOUD ENVIRONMENT requires MSPs to rethink the way they manage clouds and the technologies they use.
CHALLENGES INCLUDE cost overruns, sprawl, security, and lack of visibility, creating an advisory opportunity for MSPs.
FOCUS ON OPTIMIZATION, and adopt tools and methods to analyze, monitor, and continually adjust to a client’s changing needs.

Other common issues are:

  • Overall complexity
  • Technical debt
  • Cloud sprawl
  • Governance
  • Cybersecurity
  • Billing
  • Shadow IT
  • Vendor lock-in

Left unchecked, these factors lead to wasted money and underperforming systems along with higher business risks.

Chris Ploessel

Cloud sprawl is among the most serious of the concerns. It causes problems on a couple of different levels. First, it frequently results in shadow IT. Unauthorized software and systems can trigger higher costs and, if ignored, result in underperforming systems and additional security risks. Second, the sheer volume and expanse of clouds, often coming from various vendors and systems, exponentially ratchets up IT management overhead.

For example, Ploessel says he recently conducted an audit with a client that found an unknown AWS account. It turns out that an employee had spun up the cloud instance a few years ago to experiment with a specific service on a trial basis.

“They weren’t aware the account still existed or why it was there,” notes Ploessel. “The company was paying $1,200 a month for an account they weren’t using. Had we not detected the account it would have likely stayed open for months or even years.”

Such stories are not uncommon. In fact, in some cases, businesses haven’t discovered they have failed to switch off a cloud service until years and hundreds of thousands of dollars later. Of course, as organizations shift more and more infrastructure and services into the cloud the stakes escalate. According to 2023 research conducted by online data site Statistica, about half of all enterprise workloads now reside in the cloud, with 7% of organizations planning to move additional workloads to the cloud in the next 12 months.

Yet, companies are clearly struggling. Gartner reports that through 2024, 60% of infrastructure and operations leaders will face public cloud cost overruns that negatively impact their on-premises budgets. A separate study conducted by cloud vendor Virtana found that 86% of organizations lack visibility across cloud infrastructure and 82% of organizations with workloads running in public clouds have incurred “unnecessary” cloud costs. No less significant: Seventy-two percent struggle with inadequate management tools and 68% wind up with silos that hinder collaboration and performance.

Gaining Visibility

At the root of the cloud management challenge is a lack of universal visibility and a single management framework that makes diagnosing bottlenecks and optimizing assets difficult, if not impossible. In many cases, vendor-specific tools from the likes of AWS, Google, and Microsoft work well within a particular application, system, or platform but lack the capabilities required to address broader and deeper challenges that span multicloud and multivendor environments. This situation ratchets up the challenges related to real-time monitoring, live alerts, and fully understanding resources and configurations.

Identity management and authentication can be a particularly nettlesome area, Kahn says. Oftentimes, organizations lack visibility into who is using cloud resources and how they are connecting to various applications and data, even with single sign-on in place. Although each SaaS vendor and cloud provider has its own set of authentication standards for logging in and managing their software or systems, problems ensue as users move across applications that incorporate different standards and protocols.

For instance, it isn’t enough to know that a user has logged into a cloud-based service with the right credentials. There’s a need to identify where the IP address originates and ensure that the individual is using a known and approved device that meets essential security specifications. What’s more, because of the highly intertwined nature of containers, APIs, and other cloud assets, it’s vital to control access laterally through a network. “These challenges exist in legacy environments, but they are often magnified in the cloud,” Ploessel says.

About the Author

Samuel Greengard's picture

Samuel Greengard, a business and technology writer in West Linn, Ore., is the author of The Internet of Things (MIT Press, 2015) and Virtual Reality (MIT Press, 2019).


ChannelPro SMB Magazine

Get an edge on the competition

With each issue packed full of powerful news, reviews, analysis, and advice targeting IT channel professionals, ChannelPro-SMB will help you cultivate your SMB customers and run your business more profitably.