Leveraging Cloud Technology to Balance Agility, Cost and Control


With a corporate strategy and organizational culture that values independence and agility, this company found itself with an unintended IT consequence: A sprawling collection of ad-hoc, independently managed systems created by internal business units.

The IT department needed to offer its internal clients an alternative that would enable control, security and cost reduction while avoiding restrictions on agility and innovation.

The Opportunity in the Cloud

With a strategy and organizational culture that values independence and agility, the company found itself with an unintended IT consequence: A sprawling collection of ad-hoc, independently managed systems created by internal business units. The IT department needed to offer its internal clients an alternative that would enable control, security and cost reduction while avoiding restrictions on agility and innovation.

Business and IT: Out of Sync

The company’s diverse departments were not able to stay in sync with IT. The company’s strategy demanded rapid, agile deployment of systems but the IT department’s reasonable need to maintain control and assert project priorities created a vacuum. Internal IT requests (such as mobilizing project management and provisioning out systems) took two to three weeks to handle, often forcing internal departments to circumvent IT and buy services or procure standalone hardware.

With a strategy and organizational culture that values independence and agility, the company found itself with an unintended IT consequence: A sprawling collection of ad-hoc, independently managed systems created by internal business units.

“Our IT organization lacked the agility to be able to efficiently manage those demands,” said the Cloud Services program manager. “Our IT processes can take far longer than what some of our internal customers require to be agile.”

For instance, a department wanting a web-based sales configuration application might deploy it on a third-party commercial hosting service and charge it to a corporate credit card. This was a large-scale problem, with 190 uncontrolled systems operating within the company. The IT department faced some serious issues with this practice:

  • Lack of visibility and control – The IT department had little idea of what business-managed applications were running internally, what data was being hosted offsite, or even where many business assets were located.
  • Security risks – There were no effective controls to ensure that proprietary data was being protected, and no way to guarantee that security patches were being applied.
  • Financial waste – The company was not getting any value for this volume of IT purchasing and application support model. Each internal application was costing tens of thousands of dollars per year to manage.

Envisioning a Cloud Solution

The IT department resolved to be proactive and tackle the issue of “shadow IT” and ad-hoc systems before it became a larger problem. “It was a big, unwieldy process that was getting more and more difficult to handle in-house,” said the Cloud Services manager. “We needed a way to corral those applications, and aggregate them in a secure, compliant, standardized fashion.”

The decision to find a cloud-based solution was relatively simple to make. The cloud offered the company the kind of flexibility it needed to provision a wide range of systems quickly to many different internal clients. However, not just any random public cloud solution would do. The company began searching for an enterprise-grade cloud platform built on high performance infrastructure that could meet the company’s service level agreements (SLAs) as well as its security and compliance policies. This included having built-in disaster recovery and high availability of the entire solution. Also important were single sign on (SSO) and identity management, direct link VPN into the company’s own data centers, and DNS integration that could effectively turn this public cloud into an extension of its network.

Benefits of the Cloud

CenturyLink Cloud met these requirements and more. The company was able to offer access to internal clients via the intuitive web-based interface or via API. Robust monitoring and customizable alert policies, task scheduling and orchestration, and real-time cost tracking gave their customers all the power, visibility and control they needed for their own cloud environments. Meanwhile the IT department maintained oversight and control over the entire platform.

“Shifting to CenturyLink Cloud’s enterprise public cloud platform was a big win for the IT department and a sea change in how our company operates,” stated the Cloud Services manager. “It reaffirms our commitment to agility and innovation, and delivers measurable benefits throughout the organization.”

“Shifting to CenturyLink Cloud’s enterprise public cloud platform was a big win for the IT department … reaffirms our commitment to agility and innovation, and delivers measurable benefits throughout the organization.” – Cloud Services Manager
CenturyLink Cloud customer resolves shadow IT challenges and successfully battles IT sprawl