As cloud computing remains in the technology spotlight, businesses are faced with a real challenge. While a significant number of IT professionals have welcomed cloud-based solutions into their infrastructure ecosystem, overly eager provisioning practices have created the problem of cloud sprawl.

It may simply be that the cloud facilitates end-user provisioning too well, as solution provider Logicalis recently observed. It’s easy to let affordable applications slip through the cracks, particularly those that are not subject to cost reporting policies. However, this has led to a patchwork technology environment for many businesses, as well as a significant amount of unnecessary redundancy in programs and functionality.

“Virtualization offered a one-to-many solution which, over time, resulted in fewer racks, less power consumption, lower cooling requirements, less floor space in the data center and a much easier-to-manage ROI,” Logicalis explained. “But utilization in virtual environments is still hovering under 20 percent today because virtual servers allocated to temporary departmental projects are rarely reclaimed and reallocated when the projects are completed.”

The company also identified a set of action items to reduce the risk of underutilization and excessive cloud storage costs. Not surprisingly, a comprehensive plan supplemented with policy can go a long way toward addressing this issue. Because businesses can often lack expertise in the cloud, Logicalis suggested to utilize consulting services that will work closely with the company to identify specific needs and how they can be addressed with the technology.

A future of customized clouds?
Many business decision makers are starting to realize that prepackaged solutions can’t meet the specific needs of their organizations. This demand for customizable clouds places greater pressure on providers to make interoperable solutions, and it can also make the corporate IT ecosystem more difficult to navigate. Nevertheless, Logicalis said that success will soon be largely dependent on the ability to develop a cloud storage solution that allows companies to leverage a comprehensive portfolio of cloud-enabled benefits.

The demand for customization may have challenges, but it also creates new market opportunities. Management tools and strategies are likely to become the focal point of cloud discussions, according to Logicalis, and proper governance of the technology will be necessary to ultimately reduce cloud sprawl.

Growth in number of unplanned demands
Business users benefit from cloud computing, as it enables easy provisioning. However, it can give enterprise resource and infrastructure strategists a headache. Some of the sentiments that Logicalis expressed mirror those portrayed in a 2011 IDC report which predicted 65 percent of all enterprise workloads would take place in virtualized environments by the end of that year. While the push toward virtualized servers afforded efficiencies in some areas, it created challenges in others.

“This new, highly virtualized world requires changes not only to the servers but also to the storage, networking, process, and people sides of datacenter operations,” the report stated. “Virtualization has decreased server spending and decreased the cost of power and cooling systems, but it has increased management costs greatly.”

In addition to improving management strategies, IDC recognized the need for further enhancements in storage efficiency. The research firm estimated that total capacity shipped would grow 50 percent annually from 2010 to 2014. As a result of increasing information volume, companies will not only have to become better at managing the data, but improve the technology that stores it.

Cloud storage companies can better optimize their deployments through partnerships to expand expertise. Programs such as the Seagate Cloud Builder Alliance provide the knowledge and technology to build clouds to meet evolving demands.




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