Wednesday, 5 November 2014

Cloud Sprawl: Are There Too Many Clouds in the Data Sky?

There is a new term emerging in the world of cloud computing: 'cloud sprawl’.  It is a term being used to describe current conditions in which organisations have multiple cloud environments all in place simultaneously, with each one including multiple instances of virtualisation.  The principle of cloud sprawl is based on the municipal planning concept of urban sprawl; it denotes growth that is quickly getting out of control.

The early days of cloud computing were marred by excessive capacity and not enough personnel and systems to properly manage it all.  Despite fairly rapid adoption in North America, Europe was not as quick to catch on because of the implied weaknesses of the system.  Things are now much improved thanks to better management however some experts fear the principle of cloud sprawl could tip things back in the other direction.

For example, a company working with its own enterprise server may no longer have just one cloud.  In fact, most do not.  Most have multiple cloud environments used to serve different groups of people; for example, they might have a private cloud for company employers and vendors and a completely separate cloud for the general public.  Driving these multi-cloud environments is a new love of distributed computer systems.

Another potential problem is one of new cloud administrators being given a piece of new technology and running wild with it, only to find that things get out of hand very quickly.  Those concerned with cloud sprawl say now is the time to get control of cloud environments before these become completely unmanageable.  It is something that needs to be dealt with at data centres and corporate IT facilities alike.

The Cloud Is Here To Stay

It would appear as though the cloud is here to stay.  There was some speculation a few years ago, but the broad adoption of cloud computing has pretty much cemented its place in the world of Internet technology. Furthermore, Internet use is only going to expand as we move into the future.  It is not likely the global community can reach its goal of worldwide Internet access without continuing to utilise the cloud for everything from web-based applications to IT services.  It is what it is.

Having said that, as long as web administrators are going to begin thinking of ways to attack cloud sprawl, an equal amount of attention needs to be paid to on-demand Internet.  It is the insatiable thirst for streaming data and real-time applications that are driving the need for ever-increasing speeds.  Any methodologies put in place to control cloud sprawl have to be measured against the ability to provide for the world's on-demand needs.

It is an exciting time to be part of the world of data centres and cloud computing.  As with the entrepreneurs of the early industrial age, those of us involved in developing the future of the Internet face a daunting world of exciting challenges.  Only time will tell where we end up…

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