On the Hunt for Rogue Clouds

Arthur Cole

With rogue clouds and shadow IT becoming more prevalent in the cloud, enterprises are turning to advanced management platforms as a means to keep on top of things. The danger, however, is that too many layers and management will start to inhibit the very flexibility the cloud is intended to provide. According to HotLink CEO and Founder Lynn LeBlanc, however, only a proactive approach from IT can serve both ends. Of course, a hybrid management stack like the HotLink Hybrid Express can help as well, by integrating disparate control systems into a virtual/cloud-ready environment. In a conversation with IT Business Edge’s Arthur Cole, she explains further.

Cole: When it comes to cloud management, enterprises face the twin challenges of providing flexible access while maintaining control of the environment. Is this simply the trade-off you get when utilizing the cloud, or is there a way to square this circle?

LeBlanc: With the right administration and management infrastructure, it is entirely possible for IT administrators to provide flexible access to public cloud resources, like Amazon Web Services (AWS), while ensuring appropriate management controls of the off-premise workloads and virtual machines. In fact, it’s vital for corporate IT to take a leadership role in the effective adoption of public cloud services in the enterprise to ensure that the usage complies with corporate policies and procedures and costs are managed.

Shadow IT is already a sizable issue in most enterprises. Business units and end users are more frequently circumventing corporate IT and building out their own public cloud data centers to speed up their projects and avoid the often bureaucratic and cumbersome method of procuring internal IT resources. While the barriers to deployment are very low, rarely do end users have the knowledge or experience to effectively manage these deployments. That’s where corporate IT can and should proactively look to hybrid IT management solutions that enable end users to have the same level of flexible access, but with appropriate management and cost controls.

Cole: Rogue clouds and shadow clouds have emerged as a top concern among IT executives. How can the enterprise expect to stay in control when it doesn't even know where its infrastructure is?

LeBlanc: Gartner predicts that in less than three years, 35 percent of enterprise IT expenditures will occur outside the corporate IT budget on cloud-based services like AWS. Shadow IT is a big concern because of the rising aggregate cost and unpredictable spending levels, as well as the risks of compliance and security breaches.

Public cloud use is not going to decline. To remain relevant in a cloud-dominated future, corporate IT must act strategically today to provide the hybrid IT management infrastructure required in the enterprise. Of course, for this to be accepted rather than bypassed by business units, IT’s solution needs to provide value to end users and their management, not just provide a laundry list of new restrictions and controls. Management solutions specifically designed for hybrid IT environments, like HotLink Hybrid Express, have the ability to unify the administration and management of all the Amazon accounts and instances. Best of all, with HotLink, this is provided by a plug-in to VMware vCenter or Microsoft System Center Virtual Machine Manager (SCVMM) that extends existing management to Amazon EC2 accounts and workloads, so all on- and off-premise resources are handled seamlessly in exactly the same way. Once the HotLink agent is deployed to Amazon accounts, all the existing instances, whether running or not, are immediately visible and manageable in vCenter or SCVMM, right alongside the on-premise hosts and virtual machines. Not only does this benefit IT and its visibility in shadow IT operations, but the business units can also be given access so they can better manage their own costs and usage. Rather than turn to new and disparate solutions, IT can strategically leverage and extend its current infrastructure for complete hybrid IT management while end users continue to reap the benefits of agility, flexibility and expense management.

Cole: Your HotLink plug-in links vCenter to various virtual/cloud platforms like Hyper-V and EC2. In what way does this help the enterprise with multi/hybrid cloud management?

LeBlanc: Rather than overseeing multiple disparate management solutions, HotLink SuperVISOR and Hybrid Express extend the existing management infrastructure of vCenter or SCVMM to other hypervisors and public cloud resources. All the same capabilities and methodologies now used for the primary virtual platform are extended to the full range of platforms needed by the business – absolutely no other management consoles are needed. IT administrators can easily and intuitively manage on- and off-premise resources from a single interface, creating a unified pool of resources within a common management construct that fully leverages existing skills and infrastructure investments.

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