How to prevent business app sprawl

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App sprawl can emerge as a big problem for businesses.

It is the era of the cloud for enterprises, and in most ways, this is a very positive thing. Businesses preparing for a cloud migration can look forward to greater efficiency, enhanced flexibility and easier enterprise network access, among many other improvements. 

Then, of course, there is the huge benefit of web-based apps. Across various industries, SaaS is changing how businesses operate - and these changes, for the most part, are big improvements. But the proliferation of these services within companies can become risky if IT leaders do not have a strong organizational hold on which web-based apps are being used and how authentication is being managed. If that is the case, then SaaS within an enterprise can quickly turn into an unruly mess.  

"For businesses, having many web-based apps is great - but app sprawl is not."

The Web app sprawl problem
App sprawl happens when companies have a range of cloud apps without a centralized system of oversight. It is a pervasive issue among businesses, and it is causing significant problems for IT leaders. As a recent global survey of IT decision-makers revealed, 61 percent of respondents stated that sprawl is contributing to inefficiencies that impact the whole business. 

"Companies must look to exploit the advantages of the cloud, keeping pace with business needs ... but at the same time strike a balance by having the appropriate level of control giving an acceptable risk," stated Mark Corley, chief technology officer at the company that carried out the survey.

Businesses suffering from app sprawl are not wielding an appropriate degree of control over their virtualized platform. As a result, they face a level of risk that is no longer acceptable. The first step to eliminating app sprawl is to acknowledge the reasons behind it. In addition to a lack of centralized IT oversight, app sprawl is exacerbated by:

  • Having web-based apps people are not actually using: As a Computerworld piece pointed out, one key contributing factor to app sprawl is the presence of rarely or never-used apps in a business. Often, users may claim a web-based app they have is important even though they never actually use it. Having unused services in an enterprise network helps to create a sprawl that can become a vulnerability for a hacker to take advantage of down the line.
  • Having excessive app redundancy: In the realm of web-based apps, it's not just that there's an app for everything - it's that there are many services for everything. With an array of web-based apps for every business function at the fingertips of staffers, a company can quickly find itself with a large number of services that perform virtually the same function. This kind of redundancy promises to burden businesses with ever greater sprawl. When it comes to getting rid of that sprawl, identifying redundant apps becomes vital.
    Managing sprawl by unifying apps

Managing sprawl by unifying web-based apps
Enterprises that deal with this kind of app sprawl do not only face organizational issues, but also significant security concerns. Fortunately, managing the problem does not require a drastic solution. With Centralized Application and Identity Management, IT departments can unify all web-based apps in a business network on a single, secure platform.

Not only does this platform provide a high level of security with two-factor authentication and real-time application/user security monitoring, it also provides a window for IT administrators to see which services staffers are actually using. Between the security, greater oversight and consolidating potential offered by centralized app management, businesses can eliminate this kind of app sprawl once and for all.