May 31, 2013 | Written by: Ethann Castell
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Most people think that zombies only exist in the movies, but they’re wrong. Zombies are very real. They live in the cloud and are known as cloud zombies. And if you’re using any cloud services, chances are that you’ve already created some of these evil monsters.
Cloud zombies are real
Movie zombies are the living dead who feed off human brains and hang around causing trouble until they are killed off. Cloud zombies are unwanted or forgotten-about cloud services that no one uses, but that continue to be active indefinitely. They are indeed the living dead. And they will continue to feast on your credit cards and billing accounts until you kill them off!
The birth of a cloud zombie
Zombie hunters have traced cloud zombies back to their origins. We now know that they actually start off life as normal cloud service requests, such as:
- Creation of a new cloud service such as virtual machines (VMs).
- Creation of a new software as a service (SaaS) user account such as an email account or customer relationship management (CRM) user.
- Placing a bid for a market-based cloud service.
Cloud zombie parents
The parents of cloud zombies usually have no idea of the hideous monsters they are creating. From the outside they might even appear to be normal people going about their business, for example:
- A software developer creates some VMs for testing purposes.
- A manager places a project on hold.
- A staff member leaves a company.
- A business team uses a credit card to create some SaaS accounts for their team collaboration.
The key to the birth of cloud zombies is the ease with which cloud services can be created. Anyone with a credit card can get started quickly and easily. While this is generally considered a huge benefit of cloud computing, it also has a terrible dark side.
The horrible transformation to cloud zombie
At this point, none of these parents’ actions appear out of the ordinary. There’s really no indication that any of these services might make the horrible transformation into a cloud zombie. But unfortunately some of these services will do just that. They will move into an undead state, forever destined to a life of solitude but continuing to feast on whatever credit cards or billing accounts they were born from.
From living to living dead
There are two powerful psychological forces that turn an innocent cloud service into a hideous cloud zombie: neglect and abandonment. Once users stop using these cloud services, or simply forget about them but fail to deactivate them, the cloud services morph into a terrible monster, forever active but never to be seen or used again.
The software team gets caught up in another new technology and forgets to destroy the test VMs they created. The project lead forgets to cancel those SaaS team collaboration accounts. An employee leaves but the HR and IT procedures don’t cover deactivation of their cloud accounts.
This is how an innocent cloud service gets turned into the dreaded cloud zombie.
The evil cloud zombie collective
An individual cloud zombie is nasty because it can be small and can go undetected for a long time. But perhaps even more insidious is the combined destruction that these zombies can inflict as a collective. The many small cloud zombies chewing away on credit cards and corporate accounts can add up to one big nasty expense. And that’s just how the zombies like it.
Die zombie die
But you don’t have to be a victim of the cloud zombies. You can take action and fight back. I’ve put together a four-step plan for keeping these evil monsters at bay.
- Educate all your staff, particularly your IT and finance staff, about cloud zombies and warn them to be on the lookout for these fiends.
- Regularly remind your staff, because as unlikely as it seems, people may actually forget that cloud zombies are real. And they can arise at any time.
- Control access to who can create cloud services. Separate the service creators from the service consumers, and make sure that the creators are anti-zombie.
- Review your bills. Cloud zombies can often be disguised as legitimate expenses, so you need to be ever vigilant.
Now it’s your turn to find and remove cloud zombies from your organization. Together we can all work toward making the world a safer place, a world free from cloud zombies.