Just half a decade ago, if you wanted to stand up a development environment for creating a new application, or if you wanted a server to host a new client-facing Website, you needed physical datacenter resources.

The need to request and provision datacenter hardware slowed the entire process and made it sluggish and time-consuming to get the necessary resources to the individuals within the enterprise that needed them. And – depending on capacity and utilization – requests for datacenter resources could even require the need to purchase and implement more hardware, effectively adding weeks, or months to this already bloated timeline.

Fast forward a few years, and cloud computing and software defined infrastructure have effectively bypassed the need to use traditional IT infrastructure and resources to develop new applications, create and host new Websites and conduct a myriad of other business processes. However, cloud solutions were still often requested and provisioned through system administrators and the IT department. Policies, processes and governance were also put in place to ensure that the cloud solutions being provided were authorized, secure and in budget.

Fast forward more so to  today, and things have changed, yet again. Specifically, cloud solutions and resources are as easy for employees to purchase as their favorite Wiz Khalifa track from iTunes.

Today, any developer, marketer, human resources professional or other employee in an enterprise could easily go to Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure or any other cloud platform, provide their personal or corporate credit card and ramp up a cloud server.

And, this ease of accessibility is the problem creating a delicate balancing act for IT.

If the governance and policies in place become too much of a hassle to navigate for a marketer just looking to standup a new Web presence on a cloud server, they’re going to bypass  the system administrators and IT department. The same thing applies for the developer looking to ramp up a development environment in the cloud, or any other employee in any other department of the company that needs a cloud server or cloud resource.

With cloud solutions and resources available for purchase to the average consumer, it’s easier now than ever before for one of your company’s employees to circumnavigate the rules and purchase solutions without going through the appropriate channels. Face it, it’s simply less hassle to purchase cloud services through AWS on your personal credit card and expense them back to the company than it is to fill out a form and get necessary approvals. And, it’s most likely faster, as well.

This is the current environment and situation facing companies today, thanks in large part to the “consumerization” of the cloud. And, it creates issues with management, transparency, security and budgeting for modern enterprises.

If an employee is ramping up cloud resources without going through the established channels, there’s no way to know if those costs are in budget prior to making the purchasing decision. It’s also significantly harder to track these costs. How much is the company spending on cloud resources? That question is suddenly  much more complicated, since it involves the aggregation of all costs from the IT department, plus one-off cloud purchases made by any number of employees across the company.

What about security and auditability? How can you be sure that cloud servers and resources running outside of the company’s IT infrastructure are secure, and that steps have been taken to protect sensitive data? How can you provide support and troubleshoot issues on clouds that your company doesn’t even know it’s using or paying for?

The “consumerization” of the cloud has allowed the average consumer access to the same cloud solutions and resources available to enterprises. The result has been  an IT “Wild West” where employees can easily ramp up and utilize cloud services within the enterprise skipping the established channels. This is why effective cloud management solutions and platforms are more necessary today in the enterprise than ever before.

In future articles on Cloud Sprawl, we’ll discuss the best practices and technologies available that can help companies better manage, mitigate and control the challenges created by the “consumerization” of the cloud. In the meantime, we’d love to hear your stories and anecdotes of employees ramping up cloud servers and other IT solutions behind the company’s proverbial back. Drop us a comment with your best tale of cloud “consumerization” consternation below.

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