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4 Tips for Stopping Cloud Sprawl and Cutting Cost

ssprguy-2014By Jim Manias

The emergence of virtual machines and cloud computing has brought increased agility, savings, and other benefits to organizations, but there’s a downside: waste.

As businesses change, so does their resource usage over time,  often enough that there may be excess cloud and virtual resources left over. This results in extraneous virtual and cloud resources being forgotten and left on, wasting money that the organization could otherwise use. Instead of leaving the task of balancing resources in human hands, it makes more sense to use workload automation for cloud and virtual computing resources. By utilizing workload automation, systems can be optimized to reduce idle system waste and to more effectively meet SLAs, spinning up and spinning down computing resources depending on organizational need.

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Four Tips for Reducing Cloud Sprawl:

1. Survey Your Resources

Production IT environments vary from organization to organization, but often they utilize a variety of platforms, applications, databases and other tools. All of these resources must be accounted for, especially in organizations with a hybrid computing model. In order to avoid redundancy, it is crucial to perform a survey of IT resources used throughout the organization while at the same time being prepared for the changing technology needs of the company.

2. Define Administrative Access to Virtual and Cloud Resources

Part of the problem with VM and cloud sprawl is that there are too many people with administrative access over these resources, making changes without consultation with the IT department. In order to prevent the creation of Shadow IT systems, the group of users with administrative control over computing resources should be limited to select IT staff. These employees would have the power to approve changes following formal requests for new virtual machines or cloud resources. The requests should only be approved if they truly fulfill a business need. Another benefit is that the IT department nets more visibility and authority over their virtual and cloud environment.

3. Jump Into the Resource Pool

Another way to reduce cloud sprawl throughout an organization is to allocate a set amount of virtual resources for each department through resource pools. If a department can only use a finite amount of virtual resources, they will have to use them wisely. The creation of virtual machines can be brought under control by limiting the resources allocated to each host.

4. Keep an Eye on Resource Usage

Virtual machines have lifecycles, and they must be spun up and spun down in accordance with that lifecycle to reduce waste. If a VM lingers on longer than its needed, it only wastes resources and money. The utilization of intelligent workload automation will provide an organization access to a historical and predictive analysis of their virtual and cloud resources. With this information in hand, resources can be spun up for deadlines or tasks, and spun down once the task queue is empty.

Utilizing intelligent workload automation is a concrete way to optimize organizational IT spending while at the same time reducing the need for manual intervention. This solution also minimizes how often SLAs are breached, eliminates redundancies and ensures that workflows will be able to access virtual and cloud resources only when they are needed.

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