While cloud can be an extremely cost-effective option for many businesses, it’s not always so – particularly if it’s left unchecked.
It’s an unfortunate reality that many businesses are spending too much on the cloud. In fact, Gartner analysts Brandon Medford and Craig Lowery estimate that as much as 70% of cloud costs are wasted1.
Many businesses are dealing with very unpredictable cloud costs – which fluctuate significantly from month to month, depending on their consumption. In the current environment, where businesses are increasingly mindful of their spending, this is far from ideal.
However, by carefully reviewing the configuration, set-up and governance of your cloud investment, you can make your cloud costs far more predictable. Here are five easy ways to do so:
1. Check you’re not paying for unused resources
Sometimes, the easiest way to optimise cloud costs and to ensure greater predictability is to look for unused or unattached resources. Often an administrator or developer might “spin up” a temporary server to perform a function, but then simply forget to turn it off when the job is done. Or, a developer might purchase a new cloud-based subscription mid-way through a new project, but then fail to cancel the subscription when it is no longer being used. By eliminating these unused resources, you can shrink your ongoing costs and ensure more predictable spend month-to-month.
You can also reduce your costs and achieve greater control simply by turning off resources when they are not being used. For example, you could shut down development resources after hours or on weekends.
2. Right-size your investment
One of the great advantages of moving to the cloud is its flexibility and pay-as-you-go billing model, which means you only pay for what you use. With a multi-cloud infrastructure in place, you also have the advantage of being able to assign certain workloads to certain cloud environments based on where they are most ideally suited – based on their size, security requirements, usage and more. However, if you lack control over what you’re using, or your workloads aren’t in the right place, you could be spending far more than you need to.
For example, there is no need to have continual large-scale support to facilitate a load spike in an application that only happens every so often. If you know when this load will occur, you can plan for it – and scale your resources up or down accordingly.
Ensuring you are correctly matching individual workloads to individual cloud environments will give you much more control over your ongoing spend
3. Put strict controls in place
Often, individual teams or users within your business can over-use their cloud allocation – which means it can be very hard to predict and control monthly costs. By implementing role-based access control, which is very carefully matched to workloads and requirements, you can limit usage spikes that cause costs to spiral out of your control.
Some providers even have monthly credits with in-built spending limits. Azure subscriptions, for instance have a spending limit to ensure you aren’t charged once you’ve used up monthly credits. This can be helpful if you have development teams who are exploring a new solution architecture – as it means you won’t have an unexpectedly large bill at the end of the month2.
Also, it’s not uncommon for departments within your business to subscribe to cloud services that your IT team knows nothing about. And without the right controls in place, this shadow IT can very quickly become a costly and unpredictable problem.
4. Use automation
There are several reliable tools and technologies available that can help you use automation to control your cloud spend and create a more predictable monthly bill.
Leveraging machine learning and analytics, these tools can automatically adjust the way you delegate your workloads according to your requirements and budget. They can also help you identify workloads that you’re still paying for, but which aren’t being used.
5. Stay on top of pricing models
Cloud service providers can sometimes offer quite complex – and diverse – pricing models. Often, it’s a case of comparing apples with oranges. And to add to the complexity, these models can change frequently. This means a ‘set and forget’ approach simply won’t work.
What you pay for individual cloud services is often calculated based on time or transactions, and the price is influenced by a wide range of factors – how you store logs, the database you use, and even the type of encryption you require.
It’s important to continually monitor what you’re being charged by your cloud providers, and stay on top of fluctuating prices, plans and tiers. While many IT teams don’t have the capacity to provide this level of monitoring themselves, there are plenty of tools available to help, and an outsourced provider like Interactive can take care of it on your behalf.
How we help
The team at Interactive has extensive experience when it comes to helping Australian businesses control their cloud costs. On average, we help our clients reduce their cloud spend by 25% in just a few weeks.
If you’re interested in learning more, get in touch regarding a complimentary cloud optimisation assessment.