Reduce Your Cloud Costs with These 5 Strategies

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As cloud adoption continues to increase, concerns over managing costs are rising as well.

Cloud computing can provide significant benefits for businesses and can save money, but they must be managed in order to take full advantage of cost savings. In a survey of more than 700 IT professionals, 64 percent report that optimizing cloud usage to save money was their top priority for the year ahead.

The most obvious way to manage costs is to use available discounts on pricing. AWS Reserved Instances (RIs) allow for significant discounts to users that reserve capacity for periods ranging from one to three years. Yet less than a quarter of Microsoft Azure customers take advantage of the pricing break. Google Cloud customers are even less likely to choose committed use discounts which also give price breaks.

As companies have migrated to cloud computing, many have suffered a bit of sticker shock as they have expanded services.  The average cloud budget is $3.5 million for large enterprise organizations and $889,000 for SMBs. SaaS (Software as a Service) and IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service) make up most of those costs. 

Managing and optimizing these costs is critical.

5 Strategies To Reduce Your Cloud Costs

In one study, 40 percent of IT decision-makers said their primary motivation for moving to the cloud was cost savings. After making the switch, 53% said the cost was still a significant pain point.

Besides pricing options, there are strategies you can implement that can contain and optimize your cloud costs. Your cloud strategy needs to prioritize costs, and your plan should bring all aspects of cloud computing together to get the biggest bang for your buck.

Re-Sizing To What You Need

One key advantage of cloud computing is the ability to scale up or down as business dictates. Just buy what you need and then provision more when things change. This prevents you from spending capital upfront to buy the capacity you may not need in the future. Don’t make the same mistake in your cloud deployments by overbuying capacity when it’s so easy to scale.

The overarching goal is to achieve maximum performance at the lowest possible costs by maintaining optimal compute, storage, and network settings. Failing to right-size or re-size your cloud commitments regularly can quickly lead to ballooning costs.

It’s a delicate balance to maximize workload without overspending. Regularly review your needs and re-size as appropriate.


Utilizing Automation Strategies

Take advantage of cloud automation that will install, configure, and manage your computing services wherever possible. Automating tasks such as backup and storage, security and compliance, code deployment, settings, and configurations can reduce the amount of human intervention that’s needed. This both lowers manual errors and allows your IT staff to focus on higher-level strategic business activities.

Dynamic resource allocation can help balance loads to avoid over-utilization. Automated security sweeps can scan for potential security breaches. Cloud orchestration can configure resources to combine automated workflows into a single process that is then executed automatically.

Scheduling Your Work And Workloads

If your company doesn’t conduct business overnight or on the weekends, you likely wouldn’t need to schedule employees to staff the office  If you did, your payroll would balloon for no solid business reason. 

You may be doing the same with your cloud computing if you aren’t scheduling your resources. You can configure schedules to start and stop depending on workloads and work hours. If nobody is going to use the resources, there’s no reason to keep them active and pay for them.

This can also apply this cloud strategy to projects and deployments. Certain resources may only need to be active for specific chunks of time.

Reviewing Your Usage And Using Analytics

Your cloud computing provider’s dashboard and analytics can provide a starting point for optimizing your costs. Look for obvious signs of under-utilization. You may also want to utilize a Cloud Management Platform (CMP) to look at detailed cost modeling to get more granular reporting.

Resources that are in use constantly are good candidates for RIs and Committed Use plans. This can reduce costs when you know you will need the capacity. 

Removing Deprecated Items & Unused Items

Think about your own computer hard drive. It’s so easy to store things that you probably have a lot of files on there that you will never need again. It’s likely your business cloud data center contains a lot of unnecessary data as well. Since you’re paying for capacity, you should make it a regular process to trim or deprecate your data as it becomes obsolete.

You also want to check for orphan instances, volumes, or containers that are no longer being used for current projects. Elastic Load Balancers (ELBs) can help distribute workloads and traffic, but you pay for it whether you use it or not. If you have no instances associated with your ELB, delete it.  The same goes for unassociated IPs and machine images that are no longer need.

Be careful, though, when you do go to delete items as they may not be recoverable at a future date.

Optimizing Your Cloud Strategy

When it comes to cloud computing, users cite faster deployment, ease of upgrade, total cost of ownership, lower IT support costs, and lower upfront costs as the top benefits. Internet security, Identity Management, IT Management, Maintenance, and Data Migration costs can all add to your bill.

When it comes to cloud costs and planning, make sure your cloud strategy includes regular monitoring, automating, scheduling, and re-sizing. While cost savings should never be put in place that hurt your ability to handle business needs, optimizing your systems can save money and increase your efficiency.

IT Professional, CloudAndy Wright