Sprawl happens in many ways. Urban sprawl is common in major metro areas. The City of Los Angeles takes up about 500 square miles. But greater LA now comprises more than 5,000 square miles as it spreads out from Thousand Oaks, Simi Valley, the San Fernando Valley, and Santa Clarita out to the San Gabriel Valley, Long Beach, Anaheim, Irvine, Riverside, and San Bernadino. The result is endless commutes, gridlock, and smog.
Organizational sprawl is also common. Global conglomerates have so many divisions, departments, acquired entities, and partners that it is a constant battle to keep everything aligned and operating smoothly. It is not uncommon for employees within a big company to be utterly unaware that people in neighboring departments have tools or solutions to problems they have been desperate to solve for years. Inefficiency, excessive costs, and lack of market agility become the norm.
And then there is tool sprawl in IT. A few decades ago, organizations might only need one application to manage on-premises systems and an antivirus (AV) application to take care of security. How things have changed. These days, many organizations operate in hybrid environments – both on-premise and in the cloud. Even more, they often have multiple cloud environments, multiple operating systems, and several platforms to manage from a dozen or more vendors. They have added layers of virtualization, containerization, and monitoring that necessitate the adoption of various management tools to look after different vendors and systems, cloud platforms, and areas of the network. Factor in, too, the presence of a hybrid workforce now spread around the planet and the mobile devices they likely use for work – and you can see how device sprawl drive management complexity for organizations.
If anything, the situation is even worse on the security front. Organizations may be running AV, anti-malware, ransomware prevention, data loss prevention (DLP), intrusion detection/prevention systems), next generation firewalls, secure web gateways, endpoint detection and response (EDR), threat intelligence, vulnerability management, patch management, and more. In recent times, concepts like zero trust network access (ZTNA) and secure access service edge (SASE) have led to a wave of new networking and security innovations, tools, and systems. The result of all this sprawl is so much complexity that it is difficult for IT to monitor and protect the entire enterprise. Security holes are inevitable, breaches are harder to detect and prevent, and IT personnel are bogged down in rifling though logs or jumping from screen to screen as they attempt to troubleshoot the latest performance or security issues.
The Shocking Extent of Tool Sprawl
How bad is it? Recent research from Enterprise Strategy Group (ESG) investigated the problem of tool sprawl among IT management and security applications. The survey findings were shocking. Only 6% of enterprises said they used fewer than five tools for management and security. Note, however, that they are reporting on the number they are aware of. Some may be lurking that a lone IT manager, security staffer, or line of business head uses to run things unbeknownst to the CIO.
According to ESG, 27% use 5 to 10 tools, 33% use 11 to 15 tools, and 26% use 16 to 20. That leaves another 9% who counted more than 20 applications in operation to deal with IT management and security. In other words, the survey reveals that two thirds of organizations are simultaneously running 10 or more tools.
“More device types and OSes equal more management and security tools, so when does it become unsustainable?” asks ESG.
Unified Security and Management Solution Reduces Complexity
How can organizations fight against tool sprawl and security complexity?
With a unified security and endpoint management solution. Such a platform can bring together the worlds of IT and vulnerability management into one fully integrated package. This enables multiple teams (IT and Security Operations) to leverage one tool to monitor and implement robust patch management, vulnerability scanning and remediation, MDM, and zero trust device attestation. As the only Unified Security and Endpoint Management (USEM) suite on the market, Syxsense Enterprise consolidates multiple tools, lessens IT complexity, and improves security and compliance. For more information, visit: www.Syxsense.com.
In part two of this series, we dive into the dire consequences of tool sprawl in more detail.