Cloud LandscapeScalr

5 Enterprise Cloud Management Challenges

5 Challenges when Adopting Enterprise Cloud Management

Recently I had a chance to interview Scalr CEO & Founder Sebastian Stadil about a few interesting topics around enterprise cloud management:

  • The challenges enterprises face when running a multi-cloud environment
  • The different solutions in the cloud management space
  • What makes a cloud management solution “Enterprise-Grade”?
  • How does Scalr fit in?

The following is a summary of the points discussed in the interview.

Enterprise Cloud Challenges

Cloud usage is similar to any large IT undertaking in the fact that it presents a multitude of challenges to different enterprise groups. We tried to break down the main challenges these groups face when attempting to adopt a multi-strategy.

There’s no “Adoption Strategy” and Multi-Cloud just happens – In most enterprises, multi-cloud infrastructure emerges as a result of organic adoption. One business unit, department or team uses AWS and another uses Azure and there you go: a multi-cloud organization.  The challenge it would seem is not with adoption but with management.

“Rarely does an organization wake up one day, decide it needs a strategy, and then adopt cloud. It’s usually the reverse.”

Lock-In – Because the adoption of a cloud platform is often organic, it also tends to be closely tied to how that specific platform works. This presents a challenge in cases where the business decides it makes more sense to switch to another cloud provider. Using an abstraction layer might not have immediate benefits but will pay back dividends over time, should the business have to migrate or make a switch, or just obtain leverage in a vendor negotiation.

It’s important to understand that there’s always going to be a certain level of lock-in. To eliminate vendor lock-in completely would essentially mean just using EC2 (or equivalents) to launch servers. No security groups, no load balancer, not database service etc. That scenario will be quite painful. Takeaway: Treat vendor lock-in as a scale, and on that scale find the sweet spot between commoditized cloud services and ad-hoc ones.

Overspending – There has been a major change in how IT budgets are spent. In many cases, it’s no longer a top down approach in which finance sets an IT budget and that budget is divided between the different internal customers. Now the application teams are often in charge of their own budgets, especially in the cloud and with a self-service model. In these cases, the spend generated by developers is lumped together with the overall organizational spend on IT resources, and Finance is left without sufficient visibility. Essentially, these scenarios present Finance with the same issue they often had with datacenters – instead of getting application-level visibility (i.e. how much are we spending on this website?), they’re presented with one large invoice.

Another factor is overspending due to over-provisioning. When an application team is fortunate enough to be successful with their solution, they’ll often consume more cloud resources – which is great. But from the developer’s point of view, there is a significant risk in provisioning a machine that’s too small, so they would naturally err on the side of overprovisioning.

“The combination of lack of visibility and a tendency to over-provision, routinely makes enterprises blow out their budgets by 50% or even 100%”

Some of the other challenges enterprises find themselves dealing with are:

  • Hindered Organizational Productivity – Cloud usage impacts multiple groups in the enterprise. Often each group will attempt to optimize to make their own job easier, thus negatively impacting another group. It’s often better to solve 80% of everyone’s problems, instead of 0% of multiple problems.
  • Unmet Security & Compliance Requirements – An example of one group negatively impacting another would be through compliance issues. A development group might rely on a cloud platform for delivering a solution and achieve a remarkably fast time to market, but at the cost of skipping a review with a compliance officer or checking all the required security checkboxes. The Security organization needs to find a way to allow the development group the agility they need while also transparently enforcing compliance prerequisites.

To learn more about the approaches to tackling these challenges, please read out latest post on the The 4 Aspects of a Successful Cloud Management Strategy .