Stopping the Sprawl – How to Avoid Excel Gymnastics

Sprawl. It just sounds like an unpleasant word, doesn’t it?

If asked about “urban sprawl,” visions of unplanned development and poor infrastructure at a city’s edges probably come to mind. But there’s a newer type of sprawl on the block, and this one can lead to more dire issues than longer commutes.

Most commonly defined as the uncontrolled use of cloud services with little to no management, cloud sprawl is taking place within almost every growing enterprise. Like many challenges, this one carries several major risks but also presents a few important opportunities for service providers.

When Going Rogue Goes South

American SMBs will adopt 15.2 million new cloud service instances in the next three years, according to Odin SMB Cloud Insights™. It’s obvious the secret’s out: individual departments have discovered the cloud. They’ve also discovered that many cloud services are easily available, so SMB employees are going rogue and going around their IT departments to access their preferred solutions. Whether they choose Box for file sharing or Wrike for project management, there are seemingly unlimited options for meeting an employee’s day-to-day needs.

For small companies, this can mean quick access to solutions that simplify their daily tasks. As long as the company is small and employees are aware of products being purchased by each other, the concern about cloud sprawl stays at a minimum.

Sounds harmless enough, right? Not so fast.

If the company continues to grow, it’ll often find itself the dubious owner of a random assortment of cloud services. These services are likely spread among various departments, all of which are disconnected from each other. Without centralized oversight, these services aren’t held to a constant security requirement and rarely communicate with each other.

For example, after experiencing a few years of business growth, a department might realize that their newsletter mailing list isn’t synced to their QuickBooks. Before you know it, they’ve turned to the most popular Band-Aid available to manage their cloud sprawl: Excel spreadsheets.

Excel Gymnastics: The Most Dangerous Sport

Obviously, even the most comprehensive and complicated Excel spreadsheets are not a quality long-term solution. To avoid this situation, businesses must ensure their various cloud applications are coordinated and held to similar security and integrity standards, especially as their infrastructure continues to grow.

This is where a service provider can help its end user stop sprawl in its tracks.

A major opportunity is available for service providers to guide their SMB customers in understanding the risks of sprawl. They can also use their trusted relationship to provide a more unified experience – one that lessens growing pains while still allowing the SMB to increase revenue and productivity.

Combating Sprawl with Odin

Odin solutions help service providers offer an integrated experience that proactively battles the perils of cloud sprawl. For instance, Odin Service Automation provides centralized management that enables users to oversee all of their cloud services in one place. It is also a trusted platform for delivering Microsoft cloud services through the Microsoft Cloud Solution Provider (CSP) program.

In addition to providing a wide range of solutions, we advise our partners on what to offer with what, when, and why.

We believe in integrating offers as seamlessly as possible. This not only combats sprawl, but also helps simplify a layer of complexity for our service provider partners. For example, Odin Web Business Builder powered by Yola brings together several critical functionalities (such as mobile optimization, social media, and analytics) into a single solution.

To capitalize on the sprawl situation, service providers must offer solutions that solve a SMB’s day-to-day needs – while still allowing management to maintain oversight from a larger and more long-term perspective.


Posted on November 5, 2015 and filed under Industry & Market Insights.