ITSM tools like ServiceNow have capabilities for creating approval workflows and processes for change control tracking such as cloud resource provisioning. Managers and C-level executives love the governance this provides, as they can use this to make sure they have full compliance with regulations and laws while also preventing rogue IT usage across the enterprise. Without these approval workflows, a user could provision a giant virtual machine without anyone knowing about it, or a firewall change could inadvertently take down your network. Surely these are good uses of approvals, right?

Training Users To Spend Money

One downside I’ve covered before is that these processes often slow users down, wasting time or leading them to circumvent the system altogether. Another consequence of using approval workflows for cloud resource provisioning is that it trains your users to always provision as much as possible. For example, let’s say you have an approval workflow that says your cloud operations team must approve all new VM requests in AWS, as well as all VM size change requests. If I’m a user, and I’m on the fence about needing an m5.large or an m5.xlarge server, I might as well request an m5.xlarge server now instead of having to submit another request to change the size if I need it. Each size up doubles the cost – so this single VM is now costing the company twice as much just because the user doesn’t want to go through additional approvals!

Let’s look at another example that we at ParkMyCloud are very familiar with, which is turning off resources overnight. An organization might set up a workflow that resources with a schedule that shuts them down overnight requires approval to turn back on outside of business hours. If a user has the choice of not applying that schedule versus needing approval to turn it on if they need it, they’ll do whatever it takes to not schedule that resource. This leads to unnecessary cloud waste.

Give Users The Tools To Succeed

At ParkMyCloud, we believe in guardrails and RBAC. However, we also know that empowering users to manage their own servers and databases through a self-service portal leads to more scheduling, rightsizing, and cost savings. By allowing a user to override a scheduled instance for a couple of hours when they need it instead of hassling their IT manager for approval, a user can get their job done while still allowing the instance to shut down.

Approval workflows for cloud resource provisioning, resource scheduling, and other infrastructure tasks do help to a certain extent. Compliance and regulatory adherence is a necessity. With that said, don’t be the CloudOps team that starts putting approval processes on every minor detail or dev server, or you’re going to hinder your users more than help them. Cost savings is a team effort, so when you implement tools, look for a self-service model to help you manage resources while empowering users. You’ll save money while making users happy, which is a win-win for your enterprise.