March 31, 2023

Gavin Garbutt, Chairman and Co-Founder Augment. Former CEO and co-founder of N-Able.

When it comes to cloud apps for the modern enterprise, adding them is easy. Keeping them under control is another thing entirely.

As businesses move to cloud computing, the apps and services deployed in that space quickly become virtual—and invaluable—assets. However, for many organizations, the willingness to adopt cloud IT may outpace the ability to manage it.

Significant growth in cloud adoption requires skilled technicians and advanced tools to keep everything running smoothly. Even so, managing multiple cloud applications across platforms can quickly become a head-scratching operation.

IT is risky if mismanaged.

Outsourcing cloud IT management may seem like a risk, but in reality, it is no riskier than all other types of IT outsourcing currently in vogue. The modern organization is better off relying on specialized expertise here and proactively dealing with challenges like unauthorized “shadow IT” that wants to solve problems instantly when cloud apps are added by users.

With variables such as app proliferation, unauthorized “shadow IT,” widespread use of multiple cloud vendors, and data sharing between public cloud and on-premises applications, effective oversight of cloud apps and software as a service (SaaS) is an evolving challenge that will likely grow in complexity. .

What’s more, management, governance and security responsibilities for cloud apps and infrastructure can be difficult to identify because some components are managed by the vendor and some by the end user. This makes big-picture oversight even more demanding.

In this context, few organizations get the in-depth IT monitoring they desire and instead have to think about new management tools for the cloud that they use for on-premises workloads.

All told, it has become clear that if IT asset management (ITAM) includes optimizing both hardware and software assets, then this vital monitoring exercise must have a dedicated arm to include the management of cloud applications and SaaS.

In fact, since the widespread adoption of cloud resources theoretically means never buying a server or owning a software license, cloud apps are among the most important assets in the modern IT landscape.

Effective management of cloud IT assets can change this.

For starters, the vast majority of internal IT groups will have access to the Microsoft 365 admin portal and all important corporate software assets. They will also have the ability to deploy monitoring software on all corporate devices via policy.

Observation, you see, is an important first step.

Organizations and their technology consultants need advanced tools that, for example, can quickly identify every SaaS application that users are using, regardless of where they work, what device they use, or how they run the application. A diagnostic tool can be useful in evaluating applications and classifying their security risks and how they contribute to organizational productivity. That way, you’ll weed out the bad apps and reinforce the good ones.

From there, day-to-day management of cloud apps can become much more focused and meaningful. With the right engagement tools, IT teams can quickly make big gains in streamlining provisioning, accelerating on- and offboarding, and improving security.

Of course, top-level management is of little use if cloud IT assets are exposed to the growing incidence of cybercrime, which primarily targets SaaS applications and the valuable data they contain.

Because multifactor authentication (MFA) is now a must-have measure to combat hackers, an organization’s cloud resource strategy should include strong security features such as configuring MFA and alerts to secure and monitor user access to the cloud environment.

The most advanced tools include the ability to generate engaging cloud asset threat reports that can assess and flag actual threats as they occur in real time. Generally, oversight capabilities must enable improved security posture, identify blind spots, and reduce the risk of future threats in key areas of vulnerability such as MFA and policy enrollment.

A tall order, but the future demands it.

The best approach is to avoid biting off more than you can chew and phase in the implementation. For example, with something like MFA, users may initially struggle to log in and frequently log support tickets. This is why a phased rollout can be much less disruptive than migrating every user at once.

Cloud apps are the future, but the future should not be rushed.

Any organization aiming to match the pace of modern innovation needs to get serious about controlling, tracking and integrating cloud IT apps and data. A more refined, measured and transparent approach to cloud asset management will enable an entire organization to be more innovative and deliver value efficiently.

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