old PCs Sprawl has been the lingering problem in IT since the dawn of the client-server model. In the pre-cloud era, sprawl’s impact was only barely felt, as the ongoing cost of support for a workload was rarely as visible or scrutinized as the upfront cost of acquiring infrastructure to run that workload.

In the age of private cloud, sprawl was an annoyance, but hardly a driver of noticeable operational cost. Until performance was impacted, sprawl was ignored. When a performance or capacity problem occurred, the IT team would review the issue, find some old workloads long since retired but still running, shut them down, and voila—your performance or capacity issue evaporated.

Then came the need to collect and store larger and larger volumes of persistent data (e.g, Big Data), which is still a need today. Turning sprawl into what is now an expensive problem of storage and storage density rather than the cost of compute –something that was largely viewed as a free commodity in the enterprise private cloud.

The world has continued to change as workloads increasingly move to the hybrid cloud and, as such, into public cloud platforms. The large volume persistent data problem still exists, but it’s further compounded by the over-allocation and persistent use of unnecessary compute resources.

Sprawl presents in a number of ways:

  1. Unnecessary, no longer used, and/or forgotten workloads (e.g. the project is gone, but were those IT resources allocated to it removed?)
  2. Over allocated workloads, or those with more than the necessary computer, memory, or storage provisioned
  3. Non-persistent workloads that do not need to run 24 x 7 (e.g. development and test environments)

RightScale’s 2017 state of the cloud report found that 30-45% of cloud spend was waste, and that 53% of respondents indicated cost optimization was a major initiative for the coming year.

For the majority, the time is now for seizing control of cloud sprawl. What can you do?

Unfortunately, you will find few partners to aid in this endeavor and even fewer tools that can truly help manage and optimize costs. In general, it does not benefit service providers to eliminate sprawl when 30-45% the environments they manage exist because of this problem. Seeing this, we at Online Tech have taken the opposite approach. As with all of the services on our platform, we believe that when we do the best by our customer, our customer will come to us for more solutions and bring their friends and colleagues, too.

This is where SprawlGuard™ comes in. This is a unique, powerful tool that’s designed specifically around cost containment to manage your persistent workloads. You define precise cost centers with a powerful but flexible tool that then employs advanced usage analysis on a daily basis. First we make visible the changes in your spend and how it impacts your cloud cost outlook so that you can see potential sprawl as workloads come online. Next, we’ll look for those forgotten, over allocated or non-persistent workloads and alert you to them. You end up with a prediction of whether you’ll have sprawl that month or not. For our customers, that means more cost optimization and total control over their environment. And when you’re using the public cloud within a hybrid environment, that spend control is what enterprises crave.

If you’d like to learn more, or share your thoughts on how sprawl has affected you, I welcome your feedback. You can message me here or read more about SprawlGuard™ here.