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Cloud sprawl is the uncontrolled proliferation of an organization’s cloud instances or cloud presence. It happens when an organization inadequately controls, monitors and manages its different cloud instances, resulting in numerous individual cloud instances which may then be forgotten but continue to use up resources or incur costs since most organizations pay for public cloud services.
Cloud sprawl is very much like VM sprawl or server sprawl; there is an overabundance of different solutions in use becoming quickly unmanageable. For example, a developer might test a portion of a system he is developing in AWS, creating an entire virtual network, then forget to delete the instances. He then comes back the next day to create another instance for a new set of testing. Now there are two instances running while the first one has been forgotten. Without proper visibility and control, this could quickly get out of hand, especially with multiple people doing the same thing, which leads to cloud sprawl. This is even worse if there are multiple vendors involved or even with just different cloud offerings from the same vendor.
Cloud sprawl can be a nightmare for IT administrators because at the end of the day, they are the ones that have to round up all of the loose cloud instances and reign them in, not to mention considerable costs to the organization if not controlled quickly enough.