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Turning Cloud Chaos into Control


In my last post, I discussed the influx of unmonitored cloud applications and services, and the chaos that it’s creating for enterprises on a global scale. From unused and unknown licenses to multiple cloud services across departments with overlapping capabilities, business units are sourcing these cloud services on an unsystematic ad hoc basis. So now it’s time to gain control.

While the challenges and effects of the BYOD trend still linger on, a new organizational and financial challenge has emerged and taken center stage: Bring Your Own Cloud (BYOC).The adoption of cloud applications has become so pervasive in today’s enterprise because it’s faster, easier, and/or less expensive than having the IT department build custom applications to fulfill specific enterprise needs. Many of these cloud services offer free trials or low cost subscriptions, prompting employees to sign up without a complete understanding of the consequences.

To support a BYOC environment and prevent employees from signing up for any and every available cloud service, companies need to create and support transparent policies that promote awareness of cloud applications and their possible ripple effects throughout the company. Establishing such policies would clearly define what cloud services can be used and who is authorized to sign contracts and agree to add on services. This would help bring a welcome order to the enterprise by reducing risks and maximizing the benefits that the cloud has to offer.

What do we need to control the cloud chaos?

  • Visibility: One of the biggest challenges to gaining visibility inside the organization is collecting all the invoices and contracts. Once collected, it’s important to know who in the organization is using these services so that asset costs can be properly allocated. Departments commonly sign up for these cloud solutions independently, which makes tracking down invoices, contracts, and associated departments and users quite difficult. Unlike telecom, these cloud services are coming in through all different departments where employees feel empowered to contract out, negotiate, and at times even pay with their corporate credit card. These transactions do not involve the finance department until they need to be reimbursed.
  • Contract Management: If the stipulations, guidelines, and terms of a contract are not being monitored, enterprises may experience a rude awakening. They may find auto-renews they didn’t know existed and discover a rocky billing landscape that grows in complexity by the day. They also may find that they are being charged for licenses that were purchased beyond what they’ve contracted, potentially resulting in paying premiums on those licenses. Some cloud vendors raise rates or announce higher rates once the company has fully adopted the solution. Furthermore, finance needs to determine how they’re going to keep track of this new “asset.” Cloud invites new and often unknown billing techniques and contains no clear asset identifiers on the invoice. Enterprises need to determine if they’ll be defining assets by application/service name, account, vendor, or quote number, and then ensure that contract rates are negotiated fairly and that billing is charged in compliance with contracted rates.
  • Financial Integration: Now it is time to take all of this disparate information and upload these assets into an inventory storehouse that provides a snapshot allowing you to consolidate and drill down into the different pieces of critical information to help contain these assets and associated costs. So, in other words, take that Excel spreadsheet you are populating every time a department submits an invoice for payment or for a reimbursement and create a single view of all the cloud contracts. Then, make it so you have the ability to assign an identifier to these different assets, manage the different licenses, track capacity, assign license owners, and set up contract actions like renewal alerts and so on.

So, now that you are officially concerned, you may be asking yourself, “How can I gain visibility and control?” and, “How can I manage this on an ongoing basis?” Luckily, we have developed a solution that tackles all aspects ofthis problem: MatrixCloud. This new cloud connection point has many similarities to Fixed and Mobile Telecom Expense Management, and Tangoe has the transferable skills, knowledge, and technology to manage this evolution. MatrixCloud provides support to manage our clients’ cloud deployments and empower your connected enterprise with the ability to implement, centralize, and control these cloud service assets and costs.