Save money by switching to the cloud! Change and watch the cost savings roll in, right? Not so fast.
The business case for adopting cloud services used to be easy. As the cloud market has matured, cost savings are no longer the most critical variable to consider. Security, monitoring, and other management issues are coming back to the foreground. What happens if your cloud services go unmanaged?
Budget overruns and security problems are just two of the issues that occur when IT managers do not provide oversight. A 2017 industry report estimated that “average waste in the cloud was 35%.” Ouch! That kind of waste level is unacceptably high for our liking. Imagine if you had that level of waste in other parts of the organization. If one-third of your IT staff were regularly idle with nothing to do, no professional manager would ignore that issue for long.
The Path To Fixing Your Cloud Service Governance
The process for improving governance over cloud service starts with understanding your environment. Once you understand your cloud providers, you can make improvements.
1) Gather The Facts
Ask your IT managers to develop an inventory of all cloud services overseen by your department. If possible, see if you can discover “shadow IT” examples as well — such as marketing or sales buying software subscriptions for their teams. At the end of the process, you want a single document that lists out the following items:
- Company Name.
- Pricing. If the pricing model is complex, note down the most significant cost drivers, such as the number of active users.
- Cost over the past four quarters. This figure will tell you how the actual cost you pay is changing over time.
- Number of users compared to a year ago. This change measure will help you to understand usage.
- Relationship manager. Who is responsible for managing the overall relationship with the cloud provider at your company? If there is no single individual, note that fact down as well.
- Overall relationship manager assessment. On a scale of 0 to 10, how does the relationship manager rate the provider?
Now that you have a full report on cloud services currently in use, compare it to your original business case.
2) Check Your Business Case: Are You Achieving Your Goals?
Remember the business case your staff prepared when you first switched to a cloud provider? It is time to dust off that document and find out if you are getting the value you expected. Ask your staff to compare the business case’s projections to your experience. Make sure to cover the following areas:
- Return on investment. If you forecast saving $100,000 compared to your previous arrangements, find out if your organization has realized those gains.
- Risk mitigation. How has adopting the cloud providers changed your risk profile? In our experience, cloud services reduce some risks (e.g., maintaining legacy systems) and increase others (e.g., vendor lock-in).
- Customer service. How long does it take to have problems resolved? What proactive efforts, if any, does the provider make to add value?
- Technical support. If you are working with cloud services that require extensive configuration, like an ERP or a CRM, you may need professional guidance from the provider. Rate the quality of the guidance relative to your needs. For a simple service, relying on FAQs and user guides may be enough. For a complex finance application, you will need more support.
At the end of this process, you are seeking to answer a simple question:
What gaps and improvement opportunities are available with this cloud provider?
Tip: For cloud service providers with millions of users, the onus will probably be on you as the customer to monitor usage and speak up about problems.
3) Use Avatier Single Sign-On To Optimize Cloud Usage
Remember that research we cited about the high level of waste in cloud services? It is time to go hunting for that waste in your organization. Let’s say that your organization has bought access for all employees. How can you track and control usage efficiently? The cloud provider may be not equipped to help you. In that case, the solution lies in using Avatier’s Single Sign-On.
By using a single sign-on across your organization, you can easily detect and manage access to cloud and SaaS services. Imagine if the majority of your staff rely on a certain application to get their work done. In that case, you will want to manage that cloud provider more closely because they are critical to your enterprise.
In addition to monitoring cloud applications, implementing single sign-on also improves the efficiency of your security department. How? Read 5 Ways To Save Time With SSO Software for additional tips.
4) Implement Management Reporting and Controls
Another report to read? Yes, we know you already have a lot on your plate as an IT leader. Don’t worry. We are recommending a simple, straightforward report that will keep your cloud services well managed. On a one page dashboard, include the following elements:
- Overall Rating (Green, Yellow or Red). Use traffic light scoring to rate the overall status of the cloud provider.
- Contract status. If the contract is close to renewal or expiration, that is critical data for a CIO to know.
- Usage. Report the number of active users using the service. You can verify the data provided by the vendor by checking it against Avatier Single Sign-On’s reports.
- Risk and Incidents. Report the cloud provider’s most significant issues and service failures for the month and the past year. If the problems become excessive, you will need to investigate alternatives.
- Innovation Opportunities. If a cloud provider provides new ideas on how to increase productivity, security or something else interesting, make a note of it here.
We suggest reviewing the above summary report monthly. The CIO or IT executives should meet with the essential cloud vendors annually as well.
Want To Improve Your Cloud Management Further?
As more IT dollars move to cloud services, managing these services is fast becoming a critical competency. Before you dive into a managed cloud service, read The Business Case for Moving to Managed Cloud for additional background.