Cloud Cost Optimization

This post is sponsored by DoiT International.

Utilizing the cloud in your business or application is a requirement in today’s tech environment.

AWS, Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud Platforms provide numerous services that vary in many ways. One thing is constant across all the different applications: cloud costs are a headache to predict and control. A recent Forbes article included the statistic that 30 percent of cloud spend is wasted! This waste is due to using duplicate services, abandoning services, and reckless buying. This article will serve to illustrate common problems with cloud costs and show why outside help might guide you to better cloud cost optimization.

Understanding and minimizing cloud costs is essential for any firm that operates in the cloud to any degree.

When launching a new application in the cloud, it is difficult to predict exactly how many cloud resources a business will need. The cloud is reliable, cost-effective, and easily scalable. However, sometimes predicting the costs can be hard. It is of utmost importance to do your homework before choosing a public cloud vendor.

You need to make sure you have a solid understanding of your company’s needs. You will eventually have to pick a vendor and deploy to the cloud. You will need to continuously monitor your usage, adjust, and make changes. The cloud usage should be monitored closely in order to minimize costs. Picking and deploying to the cloud is not “set it and forget it.”

Four Pillars of Cost Optimization

Amazon has created four pillars of cost optimization that are key concepts to keep in mind regarding the resource you use in the cloud.

    • Right-sizing. Essentially this means that your company should find a “Goldilocks” in terms of the size of the resources you used in the cloud size. Not too large, not too small, but just right. Paying for too much compute or storage is wasteful. Paying for too little introduces performance and scalability issues. Researching the different options available and picking what fits your workload is important. All the cloud platforms offer a variety of capacity options.
    • Reserved Instances.  In the cloud, you can pay for what you need and for what you used. If you know in advance that you are going to need a certain amount of resource capacity, you can get reserved resources (for compute) for a much lower price.
    • Elasticity. In the cloud, you can request capacity on demand and scale up and down in minutes. You can scale up for a flash sale easily and with the click of a button or an API call.  Flexibility in how your cloud scales up or down can save a lot of money. For example, if you put your development, testing, and staging environments separate from production, then you can turn off the non-production environments. This will save money.
  • Monitoring/Transparency. If you are constantly vigilant about monitoring the cloud performance you can better predict what will be needed. When you have better, honest predictions about what you need, it is easier to save money. It is also easier to predict for the future and budget for how much you are going to spend as you scale.

Spending more money on the cloud isn’t always a bad thing. If you are spending more money because you are gaining customers, then that is a good thing! Your bosses will not be disappointed to hear their business is getting more popular. You need to scale linearly or sublinearly with your success. You don’t want your bill to quadruple when your user base doubles. You want it to double or increase at a lower rate. The key is to figure out a way to drive costs down so that you couldn’t possibly operate the cloud with a cent less than what is given to you.

Staying On Top of Cloud Billing

How do you become vigilant about operating costs?

For starters, most cloud platforms offer billing alerts. You can set up an alert to tell you if you are approaching a certain percentage of your bill that month.

Another strategy is to use resource tags. Using resource tags will allow you to monitor which department is using more bandwidth. Without these tags, it is nearly impossible to figure out where all the usage is coming from. Even choosing your cloud’s location is important. If most of your customers are based in the East Coast of the United States then it is beneficial to have your cloud located there. As mentioned above turning off unnecessary environments can save heaps of money. Your company most likely does not need the testing environment on 24/7. Turn it off when the last employee leaves for the night! Consider moving off to serverless or managed services that might reduce cost.

How to Get Help In Understanding Your Cloud Costs

DoiT International Enables you to see cloud costs in an easy-to-use dashboard.

So what happens if you are completely out of your depth and you don’t know what to do in regards to setting up a cloud? Or what happens if your current cloud setup is inadequate for your needs?

You turn to a company like DoIt International. DoIt International is a premier cloud consultant company. They offer services that touch upon every facet of cloud computing including analyzing cloud spend and predicting cloud spend. Additionally, they offer training services to help companies work with cloud platforms.

What might be most beneficial is DoIt’s services in the FinOps realm. Financial Operations is becoming a more needed role in tech companies. Keeping cloud costs down could fall into the duties of a developer or engineer. It takes a lot of time and effort to stay on top of cloud performance and costs. The effort is worth it, though. By monitoring the cloud correctly it is possible to prevent wasteful spend on the cloud. Employing a FinOps to monitor the performance and cost can alleviate a software engineer from overextending themselves.

Harrison Flatau

Philadelphia, PA
Education: BA in Writing from Ithaca College

Harrison Flatau is a writer based out of the greater Philadelphia area. He has a keen interest in learning about every facet of modern technology.