A Well-Designed Framework Architecture Can Help You Optimize Your Cloud Costs


A well-designed framework is the key to deploying a successful cloud strategy. This framework is built upon five pillars that should guide your design.

Five Pillars Of Well-Architected Framework

  1. Operational Excellence

  2. Security

  3. Reliability

  4. Efficient Performance

  5. Cost Optimization

Operational excellence focuses on monitoring and maintaining your system to provide business value. Defining standards and procedures, responding to events, and automating processes will guide your daily operations.

Security will maintain the integrity of your data, identity management, and privileges. You will need to also establish controls to manage any security threats.

Reliability builds upon foundational elements, such as how you set up your framework, cross-project requirements, changes, and recovery planning. Preventing and recovering from failure is crucial to meet business and customer demand.

Efficient Performance is about using IT, cloud, and computing resources in the most efficient manner. It includes selecting the right resource types (and size) to manage the workload, monitoring performance, and adapting as business needs change.

Cost Optimization focuses on avoiding unnecessary costs. This means providing the right amount of resources and instances with potential for growth, but not overspending on capacity you don’t need.

Cloud costs and planning go together. The more planning you do, the more cost optimization you will achieve.

Cost Optimization Strategies

Cost optimization is a never-ending process. You want to regularly assess your practices and probe for ways to optimize your costs over the entire lifecycle. A well-architected framework will use best practices to build in cost containment and provide for monitoring for continual improvement.

  • Using the most cost-effective resources

  • Matching supply with demand

  • Awareness and monitoring of expenses

  • Continual optimization

You’ll need to employ a cost optimization strategy and implement it in each phase of the design to avoid unnecessary over-provisioning.

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Creating Your Optimization Strategy

Provision Appropriately

When using a managed cloud-based service, your vendor will provision and manage the resources to meet your needs. However, you will need to set and monitor the attributes to ensure sufficient capacity.

It is crucial to understand the requirements to adjust service capacity when provisioning systems.

Right Size Your Resources

Right sizing is all about using the lowest cost resource that can still get the job done and meet the demands of your workload. It can be as simple as adjusting the size of your resources to optimize for cost as demands change.

You can automate much of this process by using the tools provided by most cloud providers.  Stop-and-start triggers allow changes to instance size or instance type depending on workload.  Elastic volume controls can increase volume size or adjust performance levels while in use.

You will want to set up monitoring and alarms to track data to make good decisions. When you see extremes in either low utilization or high utilization, it may provide a candidate for right sizing.

Choose The Right Purchasing Plan

Choosing the right purchase plan during your integration and data migration can make a significant difference in the cost you pay. Whether you choose On-Demand services, Spot Instances, or Reserved Instances, you need to examine the cost and features of each.

On-Demand can be triggered quickly with no long-term commitment. You can scale up or down based on demand and pay as you go. Billing is typically based on hourly rates, storage, and test environments. You will have ultimate flexibility but will likely pay the highest rates.

Spot Instances can be significantly less expensive than on-demand rates. The number, family, and size of instance types will affect the cost. With Reserved Instances, you commit upfront to reserve resources and get discounted rates for committing to utilization.

Manage Geographic Selection

Where resources are located can also impact the cost. Capacity varies by Availability Zones. If you are flexible about where your workload runs, you can realize cost savings. Availability zones and regions can have different price structures depending on local operating costs and resource pricing.  You can select zones that are less costly or spread your costs over multiple zones. 

When you design your framework, you need to place computing resources close to users to avoid latency. You will need to weigh latency and data sovereignty against location to determine whether any potential cost services are worth any trade-off in performance.

Optimize Data Transfer

You also want to manage and minimize data transfer costs to the extent possible. One cloud strategy is to use CDNs (content delivery networks) that locates data closest to users or sets up dedicated network links between your location(s) and your cloud provider. A network link can increase bandwidth and reduce network costs.

Build In Awareness And Cost Attribution

Account structuring and tagging can help isolate and assign costs to systems, revenue streams, or business units. You can use this as a way to identify ROI against set goals.

Accounting structuring can be set up to attribute costs to different areas or projects. Tagging allows you to overlay organizational or business information on top of your usage data. This can help you categorize and track relevant business information. Allowing you to tag resources that are used across multiple teams, projects, or services.

Optimizing Your Lifecycle

In any optimization strategy, you want to follow a strict protocol of measuring, monitoring, and improving. A gap analysis will detail how closely aligned your system utilization is to your project requirements.

Establish your goals and metrics to measure efficiencies. The key is to match resources to needs with a little room for growth. Over time, you will have a better understanding of unused capacity which can be rightsized.

As time goes on, it's easy to collect bloat. Unused or unattached instances can stack up and continue to cost you money. As you decommission projects and data, it’s important to remove any unneeded provisions.

Cost Optimization Is A Continuous Process

Done right, cost optimization is a continuous strategy.  You should regularly review your architectural strategy and component selection to make sure you are deploying the most efficient solution.

Cloud, IT ProfessionalAndy Wright