How to Use Cloud Infrastructure in the Most Cost-Effective Way
Tech companies around the world are moving to the cloud for a series of obvious reasons. The cloud promises greater agility, shortening development teams’ time to “Hello, world.” Cloud infrastructure is also used for scalability, allowing teams to test products and projects — and then grow them as needed. And, finally, cloud infrastructure is designed to save companies lots and lots of money.
CIOs and CTOs are able to shut down their expensive on-premise data centers when they find the right cloud provider. This presumably creates savings. But not always.
Believe it or not, cloud infrastructure can grow to be even more expensive than on-premise solutions without the proper management. How do cloud infrastructure costs grow out of control? Check out the various ways the cloud becomes expensive below, as well as examples of cloud management tools that can help you keep those costs in line.
The 10 Ways to Control Cloud Infrastructure Costs
Not properly managing your cloud infrastructure? If not, the cost of using AWS, GCP, Azure, and similar tools is going to rise unnecessarily. Here’s a look at the 10 most common ways that cloud infrastructure can start costing you more without proper management.
1. Conduct Regular Audits and Analyses
It’s rarely a good idea to let infrastructure tools run and operate without audits or analyses. Most cloud infrastructure providers like AWS, Azure, and GCP offer reporting dashboards and features that can keep your IT team apprised of activity — but your team must use those dashboards and features for them to work on your behalf.
In addition to cloud providers’ reporting, find a way to stay in touch with your own clients and users about performance. You likely have in place service level agreements (SLAs) that guarantee specific levels of performance. In some cases, while your cloud dashboard may show a high level of performance, your own client or user may be having a far worse experience.
The nature of your product or business is unique, so come up with a unique approach to auditing and analyzing the performance of your cloud infrastructure. It's often best to use a combination of the dashboards and tools provided by your vendor, as well as a process for talking to your clients and users about what they're experiencing on their end.
2. Provisioning Realistically
It can sometimes be difficult to estimate the amount of cloud storage that you will need for any given application or project when you're first starting out. This is especially true when you’re accustomed to working through an on-premise data center rather than in the cloud. That's why over-provisioning is so common.
If you can find ways to optimize during the initial provisioning process, there will be less to manage and maintain later down the road after you have gone live. Keep in mind that the typical on-premise server offers far more storage space than a single application requires. This can lead to an over-provisioning mindset when you are new to the cloud. Remember that you can often get away with provisioning far less storage for a single application in the cloud compared to what you would provide on a dedicated on-premise server.
Some cloud infrastructure platforms make provisioning easy. For example, AWS allows users to create different types of instances — on-demand, spot, reserved, etc. The on-demand instance eliminates overprovisioning. An on-demand instance comes at a higher cost, though, as pre-committed reserved instances are available at lower rates.
Very few SaaS clients tap into the full capabilities of the tools they use. This is almost certainly true for users of cloud infrastructure.
Cloud service providers like Azure, GCP, and AWS typically offer some sort of automation service, including features that automatically scale your storage up as needed. But you can also use built-in automation features to scale down your storage as needed, too.
You don’t even have to scale up or down for long periods of time. Many applications experience heavier volume and storage needs during business hours and on weekdays. For example, dev servers are designed for heavy usage, but they are only used to the fullest extent during the workday when developers are using them. At night and over weekends, downscaling those dev servers can generate savings.
If this is the type of cadence your product experiences, you can automate storage to scale down on nights and weekends and then back up in the mornings and on Mondays. If you are not using automation tools within your cloud service provider, you are likely spending more than needed on cloud infrastructure. No matter how vigilant an IT team is, it will be unable to replicate the responsiveness of automation tools.
4. Releasing Unneeded Storage
The beauty of the cloud is that you can configure and provision remote servers as needed in a short period of time. We mentioned above the importance of conducting audits and analyses of your cloud performance, but it's not enough to just conduct these audits and analyses. You must also act on the information obtained.
Unneeded storage is one of the primary reasons why companies spend more than they need on cloud infrastructure. Your team needs to create a process, not just for identifying unused storage, but also for actively reducing this unneeded storage once you find it. This is easier said than done, naturally, as development operations and IT teams typically have unique cultures. It is essential that you embed this type of activity into the culture of your team.
5. Quality Code
The quality of your code can make a difference in how much you spend on cloud infrastructure. For example, if you're running individual lines of a multi-part query on a web server, network traffic will unnecessarily increase — which increases the amount of money you pay for cloud infrastructure overall. But if instead, you choose to embed the query on the database server, you will likewise limit network traffic — which reduces the amount of money you pay for cloud infrastructure overall.
This is just one example of how the quality of code on your web servers can impact the capacity you need in the cloud. Poor code means paying more than needed for greater capacity — while quality code means you minimize your storage needs.
6. Choosing a Cloud Owner
We noted above that it’s essential to monitor and regularly audit and analyze the performance of your cloud infrastructure. It is just as important to designate a cloud owner — someone who is looking for provisioning requests, identifying and snuffing out redundancies across your company, optimizing server utilization, and generally controlling cloud-related costs. Typically, the cloud owner is someone who understands GCP, Azure, AWS, or whatever infrastructure platform you’re using.
There's a concept in business that many companies experience called "shadow IT." Shadow IT is when tasks, systems, and programs that should be managed centrally by an IT team are actually established, used, and monitored across various departments. In many cases, individual departments will be unaware of the SaaS tools being used outside of their group. A cloud owner should be hyper-aware of the potential for shadow IT to creep into your organization. Ultimately, this cloud owner should be focused on bringing all cloud infrastructure tasks, systems, and programs under a single umbrella.
7. Organized Cloud Documentation
In many cases, individual departments establish their own cloud infrastructure because they are unaware of cloud infrastructure already in place. Your cloud owner should clearly document cloud services available to the company by creating a list of these services as well as a process for requesting/approving access.
If your cloud infrastructure is completely undocumented, or if team members at your company find it inaccessible, they will naturally turn to shadow IT approaches to accomplish the things they need to through cloud service providers. Again, this could be a cultural issue. Your cloud owner should attack that cultural issue by putting on training opportunities for your team and clearly outlining how your team members can take advantage of the cloud infrastructure services available to them.
8. Canceling Legacy Support Contracts
Many companies in the process of moving from on-premise solutions to cloud infrastructure fail to address their support contracts. After the move to the cloud is complete, failure to close legacy support contracts can be an expensive oversight.
This issue may also go beyond just support. Managing cloud infrastructure is completely different than managing on-premise data centers. Take a close look at the roles supporting your on-premise program, both in-house and contracted. And then reconfigure or replace those roles and resources with ones that are designed to best support your cloud infrastructure program.
The good news is that you will often pay far less for support and other services after moving to the cloud compared to on-premises data centers. This is just another one of the many benefits of using cloud infrastructure — as long as you take the essential steps needed to reduce cloud infrastructure costs.
9. Use Existing Licenses
When running your software in the cloud, you have 2 licensing options. First, you can rent licenses from cloud infrastructure providers like AWS, Azure, and GCP. But second, many software vendors make it possible for you to apply for licenses that already belong to you.
Which is better? The latter, of course. When you rent licenses rather than using existing licenses, you are paying more than you need to. Choosing software vendors that allow you to use existing licenses in the cloud is an easy way to save money. If you are using software vendors that do not let you apply for existing licenses in the cloud, it may be time to look at alternatives.
10. Buying Wisely
The purchase of cloud infrastructure services is not a decision to take lightly. Cloud infrastructure will always be a significant line item in your budget, even if you are maximizing ways to save. So make sure your buying process is managed by a professional who knows and understands cloud infrastructure and cloud service providers.
As you get started with cloud infrastructure, consider making spot purchases. Spot purchases are often available via auction and available for instant use. Spot purchases can help you better understand cloud infrastructure and the unique needs of your company before you invest in full-service contracts with resources you may or may not need.
Get Assistance Optimizing Your Cloud Infrastructure
As you might have guessed, there are various services available to help you manage and optimize your cloud infrastructure. These services essentially help you end up spending less on infrastructure rather than more. These cloud infrastructure management services often pay for themselves by helping your company identify opportunities to save.
Here's a look at 4 cloud management platforms that you can consider if seeking support in managing cloud services.
We've already emphasized the importance of automating cloud storage and capacity. Spot.io is a tool that uses machine learning and automation to scale up or down your cloud capacity as needed. This tool helps eliminate the over-provisioning problem by optimizing your cloud servers to perfectly match demand.
Spot.io’s suite of tools helps you with a number of cloud-related tasks:
- Get actionable insights from cloud analysis and reporting.
- Reduce complexity and your in-house team’s workload by automating your cloud infrastructure.
- Use predictive infrastructure to provision spot instances as needed for essential workloads.
We have written before that SaaS tools typically hide their enterprise-level pricing from prospective. They do this for several reasons, including their desire to get you into a sales funnel on their terms rather than yours.
Spot.io is one of the companies that share a few enterprise details on its pricing page. This is why Sastrify exists! Not only can we help you choose the right cloud infrastructure services, but we can also provide guidance on what to expect cost-wise when seeking cloud management support from companies like spot.io.
Zesty.co is an AI-based cloud customization tool that provides layered solutions in an integrated platform. Recognizing the three general contributors of cloud spend in almost all companies (overprovisioned resources, pay-as-you-go usage, and idle resources), Zesty automatically adjusts resources using real-time data to achieve an optimal level of usage. As a cloud cost optimization tool, Zesty offers the following features:
- Commitment Manager analyzes infrastructure usage and automatically buys and sells reserved instances and saving plans with a risk-free, buy-back guarantee. As a feature that manages EC2 commitments, it uses machine learning to accurately benchmark EC2 usage and allow for greater savings.
- Zesty Disk adjusts storage volume in real-time to achieve optimal disk utilization and to realize a reduction in EBS spend. The automatic adjustment feature is able to merge and detach disks to ensure optimal use. This is all done in the background without any interruptions to performance and business operation.
- Resource Cleaner and Auto Scheduler, as extra perks, provide disposal capability of idle cloud resources and auto on/off cycles of all idle development resources.
Obviously, Zesty.co offers solutions to many of the challenges outlined above. They offer a free plan for low-level users, plus a standard plan for mid-level users. But it’s difficult to find pricing specifics when browsing the Zesty.co website, including the pricing for prospective enterprise users (whom Zesty.co asks to “contact sales”).
Reserved.ai is a company that specifically supports users of Amazon Web Services — better known as AWS. On reserved.ai’s homepage, they suggest users can reduce AWS-related costs by 35% while also reducing the number of hours that finance teams spend on cloud-related billing tasks.
Reserve.ai also promises users fast and easy installation, around-the-clock monitoring and management, and savings realized in the background without any additional intervention from its users.
In short, you can invest a lot of time and a lot of resources into becoming a cloud infrastructure expert, and invest a lot into maintenance and management of your cloud infrastructure. Or, you can outsource all of those tasks to reserve.ai, so that you can focus on other important aspects of your business and its bottom line.
Parkmycloud.com is a third option for cloud infrastructure users who don’t have the resources to manage the cloud on their own. Parkmycloud.com helps users right-size their over-provisioned resources and schedule actions within AWS, Google Cloud, Azure, and other leading cloud providers
Interested in using parkmycloud.com at an enterprise level? It provides similarly vague pricing information to enterprise-level projects — just like spot.io and reserved.ai. If you're interested in learning more about the cost of using parkmycloud.com at the highest level of service, Sastrify’s database of SaaS tools and their related costs can help you set expectations and make the best decision for cloud infrastructure management services.
Are You Overspending on the Cloud and Other SaaS Tools?
If you're like most modern companies, you are spending more and more on SaaS tools with each passing year. This increasing SaaS budget might include cloud infrastructure and cloud infrastructure Management systems. But how do you know you're maximizing savings on these tools?
As spend on SaaS increases year-over-year, so too does your opportunity for savings. At Sastrify, we operate with a simple mission: to help our customers maximize their SaaS savings. If you’re operating in the dark on your SaaS spend, we can help you optimize. Contact us today for a SaaS analysis that will help you identify areas where your company is overspending.