Originally published in The C-Suite, 16 Dec 16 by Grant Macdonald

In my previous article, I outlined some of the issues that CIOs are faced with due to the continued proliferation of cloud. Taking back control is going to be key, but it’s difficult with CIOs handing over more control to third-party cloud providers; leaving themselves more open to the ‘blame game’ if one of those services fails. The findings from the research back this up, with more than half of respondents saying that if users have problems with cloud applications, such as Salesforce or Dropbox, they deal with the cloud provider’s support team directly.

While this may take the support burden off corporate IT, when things go wrong it’s not clear who is responsible, particularly if SLAs are not being correctly put in place or monitored.

There is one encouraging sign in terms of improving control over the cloud: last year, only 27% said they could and did use ITSM tools to orchestrate cloud platforms. This year, that figure has gone up to 40%. However, that still leaves 44% who have the tools but aren’t using them for orchestration, and 16% who don’t have the right tools in place at all. Orchestration is an essential part of the cloud management process, and CIOs should focus on putting this technology to work.

Equally, the wider use of service catalogue functionality contained within ITSM solutions means that 71 per cent of those who use this kind of application say that it is helping them control cloud sprawl. By using a service catalogue, CIOs can help minimise shadow IT: if it’s easy and hassle-free for users to choose and use officially-sanctioned cloud services, then they are less likely to follow a DIY route.

ITSM can help take back control of the cloud

The opportunities that the cloud offers to reduce costs, improve productivity and introduce a ‘consumerised’ service experience are well-recognised but CIOs cannot blindly trust that public cloud services will work flawlessly and be delivered perfectly, all the time. Nor can they ignore the risks of shadow IT creating a parallel, uncontrolled universe.

Making better use of existing ITSM investments is an important part of the solution through ensuring that the technology is used as effectively for managing public cloud technology as it is for in-house systems and private cloud. For example, by offering users functionality such as self-service access to approved cloud services, or by using ITSM to manage assets and service providers, CIOs can start to bring the cloud under control.