Mitigating Cloud Sprawl: Controlling XaaS Resources, Costs, and Security


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In the age of digital innovation and work-from-anywhere, every company has a lengthening list of cloud services and applications compounding complexity for their IT team. Consider today’s trends that make cloud resources more prolific — sometimes without any regard for cost or risk to the company:

  • The advantages of cloud scalability and management off-loading have more companies leaning into cloud Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) with most managing multiple clouds. TechRepublic reports 82% of IT leaders are adopting the hybrid cloud, half of which are deploying 2-3 public clouds.
  • Security over the past 10 years has been about adding point Software as a Service (SaaS) solutions in a whack-a-mole response to new cybersecurity threats. Not to mention Zero Trust strategies calling for more technologies in the name of identity-based security with multi-layered protections.
  • The pandemic triggered accelerated SaaS adoption, particularly in the areas of collaboration and unified communications, so companies could simply survive in the rush to remote work.

With digital innovation run amok over the past few years, many IT leaders are finding themselves in a governance phase according to the State of the CIO Study. That means executives are trying to understand what cloud resources they have, how to manage them efficiently and cost-effectively, and — better still — how to secure them. There is a strong need for cloud governance.

But herein lies the core problem.

Cloud governance distracts executives from leveraging the cloud for what it is – an innovation incubator. “CIOs need to shift their focus from the micro to the macro. That is, they need to spend less time managing every cloud application and service operated by IT, so they can drive strategic innovation,” said Johnna Till Johnson, CEO, Nemertes.

Cloud Technologies that Reduce Cloud Complexity

IT environments have been expanding at such a rapid pace that IT resources have scarcely kept up. This has knocked the IT team sharply out of balance with the cloud assets for which it is held responsible. Like staring at the vast horizons of the Grand Canyon, IT teams often feel overcome by the endlessness of their management duties.

In response, most IT leaders are quick to hire more staff to help level the balances; however, that response is only half of the solution equation. Simultaneously, leaders must take back control of their clouds by – you guessed it – using more cloud technology. That’s right, your IT environment has become so complex, you need another cloud technology to manage all your cloud technologies.  In fact, a recent study finds that budgets allocated specifically to cloud resources are expected to increase by 12% over the next two years.

But before you shake your frustrated fist in the air, the beauty of adding a cloud expense management (CEM) platform is the tangible and immediate cost savings that can make for an easy approval conversation.

Reality hits at CEM implementation. While the AI-powered software typically takes a matter of hours to come back with insightful recommendations, finding the right people with the permissions and authority to connect the CEM software to your cloud data — that is typically the hardest part. But ask companies already using CEM alongside similar mobile device management and telecom management platforms, and they will tell you CEM investments deliver even more cost savings in comparison.

So, what does a CEM platform do and where does that value come from?   

Controlling Cloud Resources, Costs, and Security too

Some of the most used features of a CEM platform are inventory visibility, usage data, and expense tracking, which together help companies eliminate cloud overspending. On average, the anticipated use is not equivalent to actual use, which generates hard dollar savings whether it’s unused application licenses or excess data center storage. CEM technologies are good at answering questions like:

  • How much can I save by pausing my cloud services or consolidating my applications?
  • Which department or cost center is using the most cloud resources?
  • How is data functioning and flowing across our company infrastructure?
  • How can I get a report of vendors and contractors accessing our company information?
  • How many of my app licenses really need to be upgraded?

Moreover, CEM provides a data-driven strategy showing where to start with any optimization efforts. Solutions are also known for having the latest pricing information with databases updated daily – if not more frequently.

In addition to savings, these insights are key for security. After all, you can’t secure what you can’t see. The list of SaaS applications are stack-ranked by both usage and security risk, supporting shadow IT discovery and cloud security initiatives. Other key features include:

  • Comprehensive cloud services addressing both IaaS and SaaS, including UCaaS
  • The ability to evaluate and optimize both public and private cloud infrastructure services
  • The number of customizable reports and flexible processes for building workflows
  • Professional services in addition to basic services 

Beyond data readouts, clients and their IT teams may still need help, and solutions vary in their abilities to make data actionable. From bill pay and employee on- and offboarding to contract renewals and integrations after mergers and acquisitions, clients will want to think about what management tasks they intend to outsource versus keep and ask questions accordingly.

Empowering CIOs and CTOs to Innovate Again

IT budgets have been hit hard by cloud costs, and resource management has only become more complicated. Financial officers and technology leaders bear the burden of finding more efficient ways to reign in and right-size their expanding assets. When they rebalance innovation with operational excellence, not only do they make IT budgets more recession-ready, but they also let their partners calm the chaos. That lets them get back to using cloud technology for what it was intended for – digital transformation. Investing in cloud cost optimization is the first step in clearing the haze off the corporate cloud landscape, so leaders can get back to the sunnier days of innovation.

To learn more about cloud cost optimization, visit us here.