Cloud Sprawl

Definition of Cloud Sprawl

Cloud sprawl refers to the uncontrolled proliferation or expansion of an organization’s cloud services and resources. It is the result of adopting multiple cloud applications, platforms, or providers without proper governance and management. This can lead to higher costs, increased security risks, and inefficiencies in the overall infrastructure.


The phonetic pronunciation of “Cloud Sprawl” is: /klaʊd sprɔːl/

Key Takeaways

  1. Cloud Sprawl occurs when organizations lose control over their cloud resources and services, often leading to inefficiencies, higher costs, and security vulnerabilities.
  2. To mitigate Cloud Sprawl, organizations need to implement effective cloud management strategies, including monitoring, resource optimization, and automated governance to ensure security and compliance.
  3. Communication and collaboration between IT and business stakeholders is essential to preventing Cloud Sprawl and ensuring efficient use and allocation of cloud resources.

Importance of Cloud Sprawl

Cloud sprawl is an important technology term because it refers to the uncontrolled proliferation of an organization’s cloud instances, services, or providers.

As more businesses migrate to the cloud for flexibility, cost-savings, and efficiency, they can inadvertently create a complex and fragmented cloud infrastructure.

This can lead to problems such as lack of visibility, increased security risks, wasted resources, and difficulty in managing multiple cloud environments.

By understanding and addressing cloud sprawl, organizations can mitigate these issues, optimize their cloud investments, and ensure a more effective and streamlined approach to their cloud computing strategy.


Cloud sprawl refers to the unintended proliferation of an organization’s cloud services, resources, and infrastructure. This phenomenon commonly occurs when businesses and individuals adopt various cloud technologies from multiple providers without thorough planning and oversight.

While leveraging cloud services has its benefits, such as cost-efficiency, scalability, and flexibility, cloud sprawl can negatively impact these advantages if left uncontrolled. The primary purpose of effective management of cloud sprawl is to ensure a streamlined IT infrastructure without redundancy or inefficiency.

By identifying and consolidating necessary cloud components from different providers, organizations can maintain optimized operational workflows and avoid financial strain. Additionally, controlled cloud sprawl contributes to improved security and compliance, as unmonitored resources are susceptible to vulnerabilities and breaches.

Thus, managing cloud sprawl is critical for businesses that seek to harness the full benefits of cloud technology while minimizing potential risks and expenses.

Examples of Cloud Sprawl

Cloud sprawl refers to the uncontrolled proliferation of cloud services, instances, and resources within an organization, often leading to inefficient use of cloud resources, increased costs, and management challenges. Here are three real-world examples of cloud sprawl:

Company A initially used cloud services for a specific project, and over time, different departments within the company adopted various cloud vendors and platforms for their own distinct requirements. As a result, Company A faced a lack of centralized control, visibility, or governance over their cloud environment, leading to increased costs, security risks, and challenges in managing different cloud resources and services.

A large healthcare organization migrated some of their services and applications to the cloud to enhance the flexibility and efficiency of their information management systems. However, the organization did not have a comprehensive cloud strategy in place. Multiple teams started deploying resources on different cloud platforms, overlapping services, and creating unnecessary redundancies. This led to increased costs, management complexity, and difficulties in assessing security and compliance.

An e-commerce startup utilized multiple public cloud providers to quickly scale and grow their online platform. Over time, the IT department struggled to keep track of the number of virtual machines, storage instances, and cloud-based applications in use. Cloud sprawl resulted in duplicate or unused resources and increased the overall cost of managing the cloud environment, while also compromising the company’s ability to monitor and secure their data.

FAQ: Cloud Sprawl

What is cloud sprawl?

Cloud sprawl refers to the unchecked growth and expansion of an organization’s cloud services, resources, and infrastructure. This can occur when multiple users or teams within an organization deploy different cloud services and applications without proper oversight, leading to a disjointed and inefficient cloud environment.

What causes cloud sprawl?

Cloud sprawl is often caused by a lack of centralized governance and management for cloud resources. Users and teams may deploy cloud services independently, without considering the overall impact on the organization’s cloud infrastructure. Additionally, organizations may fail to decommission unused resources, leading to unnecessary costs and security vulnerabilities.

What are the risks of cloud sprawl?

Cloud sprawl can result in increased costs, complexity, and security risks for an organization. As the number of cloud resources grows, it becomes more challenging to manage and optimize these resources effectively. Cloud sprawl can also lead to compliance issues and difficulty identifying and mitigating security threats.

How can organizations prevent cloud sprawl?

Organizations can prevent cloud sprawl by implementing centralized governance, management, and oversight for their cloud resources. This includes establishing clear policies and guidelines for cloud resource usage, as well as regularly reviewing and monitoring the organization’s cloud environment to identify and address any potential issues. It is also essential to educate employees about the risks of cloud sprawl and the importance of adhering to established cloud policies.

What tools can help manage cloud sprawl?

There are various tools available to help organizations manage cloud sprawl, including cloud management platforms and cloud cost optimization software. These tools can provide visibility into the organization’s cloud resources, identify unused or underutilized resources, and automate tasks related to resource optimization and management. Additionally, implementing cloud governance and security tools can help organizations monitor and enforce compliance with established cloud policies.

Related Technology Terms

  • Cloud Infrastructure Management
  • Multi-cloud Environment
  • Cloud Resource Optimization
  • Cloud Governance
  • Cloud Cost Management

Sources for More Information


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