Ensure enterprise cloud use is properly managed


    Unmonitored use of the cloud can cause significant management challenges, despite the technology's inherent benefits.

    The presence of cloud computing in the enterprise has given executives new opportunities to augment numerous portions of their infrastructure, including the business phone system, storage solutions and software development processes. Because the cloud can be used in a variety of applications, decision-makers are usually on board with its deployment, as the technology promises to reduce expenses and breath new life into outdated operations.

    For the most part, the use of cloud computing in the business world has received positive feedback from enterprise executives. However, the numerous advantages of the cloud are not known only to upper management, as employees are aware of the benefits associated with using hosted services, with many using the technology in their personal lives. As a result, it is not uncommon for individuals to implement the cloud without executive authorization, which can lead to significant challenges down the line.

    Unmanaged cloud deployment projects, commonly referred to as the "cloud sprawl" phenomenon, is becoming an increasingly difficult problem to solve. This was highlighted in a recent study of more than 230 IT professionals by PMG, which revealed that of the 54 percent of respondents who claim to have a cloud policy in place at their organization, only 43 percent believe those guidelines are effective at preventing people from implementing the hosted services on their own. This suggests that despite all the benefits associated with the cloud, organizations are facing new challenges.

    The survey found that 70 percent of companies claim that cloud storage offerings are the most common problem with unauthorized deployments, while 68 percent said unmanaged cloud synchronization is the most difficult. Another 53 percent of organizations said employees often deploy innovative collaborative tools, like to support connectivity for the growing remote workforce.



    "Cloud services will continue to expand within companies, in fact this study found 38 percent of IT respondents turn to the cloud because it offers faster deployment. Savvy IT departments are focusing on finding better ways to offer enterprise-grade cloud services to internal users as a way to stem cloud sprawl and safeguard corporate information," said Joe LeCompte, principal at PMG.



    By taking the time to plan ahead and map out their organizations' use of the cloud, decision-makers throughout the business world can be sure any cloud VoIP, storage or other application deployment is monitored efficiently.


    Making good use of the cloud

    Because a well-executed hosted PBX solution or other application can introduce significant benefits to the enterprise, it is important that executives do not immediately disregard any cloud project that was tackled by the workforce. The study found that most companies follow through with this mentality, as 65 percent of respondents said they evaluate the cloud implementation before assessing what to do. In many cases, organizations will make a few adjustments, add security tools and keep the installations running.

    Taking an "evaluate first, take initiative second" approach will be important in the coming years, as more than 80 percent of IT professionals believe the volume of cloud projects during the next two years will be greater than what it is today.



    "At the end of the day, IT is not going to paint all public cloud solutions as 'bad.' In fact, 69 percent of IT executives say a hybrid cloud strategy using both private and public cloud offerings is the wave of the future inside the enterprise. Containing cloud sprawl to protect corporate information and ensure security can be done by providing cloud services in a structured manner with a proper governance framework," said LeCompte.



    An ISACA report recently highlighted several considerations when developing a cloud governance strategy, emphasizing that executives need to systematically evaluate the infrastructure to ensure cloud use, as well as the benefits and risks that come along with it, is properly analyzed and understood. In most cases, implementing a cloud PBX or other hosted solution will transform operations from what they used to be. For this reason, IT directors need to be sure the workforce is properly trained to deal with this transition.


    ISACA also suggested that enterprises take note of what technologies will be changed due to the emergence of the cloud. In many cases, replacing an old phone system with cloud-based services will improve efficiency in the workplace, but it will also require employees to perform differently from how they used to. In many cases, individuals fail to recognize this transformation before implementing the cloud, which can result in significant management and performance complications.

    In the coming years, the cloud will undoubtedly become more popular, encouraging more employees to implement the tools without the proper authorization. Although this might be an inevitable phenomenon that businesses just need to deal with, decision-makers can still take a stand against it by training individuals on best practices and taking the initiative to ensure everyone is aware of the potential risks and benefits that come hand in hand with the cloud.




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