Simple Steps to Optimize Your Cloud Costs

In an on-premise environment, you know where your IT money is going. There is an upfront capital cost, and any additional spending requires provisioning and planning. In a cloud environment, however, the pricing is new and varies to match the flexibility that your cloud infrastructure provides. You’re charged for what you provision and use, which is definitely an advantage. But the same plus point can become a problem. For instance, if someone in the office forgets to turn off a virtual machine or provisions something that’s not really needed, your cloud costs could spiral out of control. Cloud offers a lot of elasticity making it easy to subscribe to multiple resources at any time. And if you over-provision, you will spend more than what was required. Without strict cost-management measures, your cloud costs could become very high.

Let’s look at some simple steps you can take to check cloud cost sprawls.

Resource optimization

Optimizing workloads and resources in the cloud is a great way to reduce the possibility of unexpected cost spikes. Your IT team needs to check for outliers like abandoned resources, incorrect provisioning, unused resources and so on, and plug leaks and optimize under-used or forgotten resources in order to control costs.

Better visibility

To achieve optimization, extensive visibility into the cloud infrastructure is fundamental. This is especially necessary for large organizations with huge cloud infrastructure, which allows inefficiencies and unused/ over-provisioned/ under-utilized resources to slip through the cracks. Good visibility also helps avoid hidden costs that can occur as your organization continues to scale.

Detailed reporting

It is likely that you have a decentralized control system to manage your cloud infrastructure. Though this is definitely a good option, the downside is that decentralization allows a larger number of employees to exert control over your cloud infrastructure resulting in chaos. But with detailed reports and a real-time dashboard, you can define a set of rules related to cloud spend and sudden cost spikes, so that deviations can trigger an alarm. Visibility into the actual number of licenses and users required will also help with billing, especially when multiple departments with different cost codes are using the cloud. Build a clear way of tracking who is using what, so you know what you’re being billed for.

Cloud security

This may not be a direct way to cut cloud costs, but think of how many millions (or more) can be lost if your cloud infrastructure has chinks in its armour. Even a momentary security lapse can expose your organization to cyber-attacks, fixing which is hugely expensive.

Adopting technology

There are several tools available that offer cloud service providers with functions-as-a-service, in which the tool automatically shuts down cloud resources during non-working hours. You can also invest in cloud schedulers, like Kubernetes, that can start and stop compute instances as per a pre-defined schedule. Of course, the irony is that you could be spending money to save on cloud costs! That’s why your IT team should invest time in continually assessing and monitoring your cloud infrastructure, and right-size and auto-scale in order to control costs.

Practice right-sizing

The most effective way to avoid overspending is to be aware of what you truly need ahead of time. A lot of organizations make the mistake of overprovisioning, as a result of which they are saddled with idle and/or underutilized resources. Right-sizing will allow you to analyze what you’re spending on, identify growth areas and monitor cloud usage.

Check cloud contracts

Before you sign on that dotted line, make sure you have read (and re-read) the scope and terms of service and features you’re entitled too. For instance, there are some cloud providers that do not offer features like security as a bundle with the basic offering. Security is sold as a value-add on and is charged separately. So make sure you know what you’re getting from your cloud provider in order to avoid nasty surprises later. Some organizations pick a low-cost provider in order to save on cloud investment and end up paying more for even basic features. Selecting a premium cloud service vendor could prove more cost-effective when you consider all the features offered.
To sum up, controlling cloud costs requires a shift in the way your IT team looks at managing operations. Most IT teams are better trained to manage on-premise infrastructure. However, to ensure effective cost control in cloud implementations, they need to analyze and manage cloud cost and leverage cloud cost management tools, weed out inefficiencies and set in place long-term best practices. Most unexpected spikes in cloud costs are a consequence of a lack of visibility about the consumption patterns and usage trends, poor planning, a lack of automation, and the inability of the IT team to understand that unlike on-premise layouts, cloud infrastructures are more fluid and changing. What’s certain is that cloud cost optimization is key to cloud success.

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