One of the major reasons for selecting cloud technology is the promise of lower costs. However, using cloud carelessly can make that a false promise. Cloud management tools offer visibility and can help ensure you keep your cloud spending under control.
Clouds Reduce Spending on Technology
There are several ways using cloud technology can reduce spending on technology:
• Low-cost resources. Cloud resources are generally low priced. As subscription-based or pay-per-use services, spending is matched to actual usage.
• Op-ex instead of cap-ex. Because of the subscription and pay-per-use model, cloud doesn’t require large, upfront capital expenditures. This allows finer tuning of technology budgets.
• Spending matched to need. When you buy infrastructure for your own data center, there’s often a lengthy purchasing and provisioning process. It’s necessary to buy spare capacity in advance to make sure it’s available when needed, so you often have a lot of unused storage and idle servers. In addition, you’re often purchasing two of everything, in order to maintain a secondary, disaster recovery (DR) site. With cloud, that unused DR site can often be eliminated. That eliminates power and rent expenses as well as technology expenses.
• Reduced support and maintenance costs. Because of the support received from your cloud provider, you have fewer expenses related to support and maintenance of your infrastructure. This reduces your IT headcount needs, as your internal team becomes available to work on other projects.
Cloud Costs Can Spiral Out of Control
Despite those savings, cloud costs can still mount up to excessive levels. These costs often result from:
• Unneeded services left on. You pay for what you use, but “use” often simply means turned on, not providing a function to the business. Free trials expire but aren’t always canceled, turning them into ongoing costs. Instances left active after end of day don’t do any processing but also result in costs. Similarly, development and test environments that remain active even after the project’s been deployed in production also lead to unnecessary costs.
• Choosing the wrong services. It’s easy to pick the wrong services in cloud, partly because there are so many options to choose from, and partly because old habits are hard to break. In your data center, you need to buy spare capacity in advance, and it’s common for tech teams to continue to oversize and underutilize resources in the cloud. In addition, choosing the right storage tier is also important for managing costs.
• Having multiple clouds. Whether as a design decision or a design accident, businesses often end up with multiple cloud providers. This can mean not using the lowest-cost service or unnecessarily duplicating services. Both mistakes mean higher costs.
• Lack of visibility in cloud. It’s difficult to see everything that’s going on in your cloud. The environment is dynamic, with changes constantly being made. Because cloud is self-service, there’s no centralized control or record-keeping, made even worse when you have multiple, independent clouds.
Cloud Management Tools Bring Back Control Over Costs
Cloud management tools help you regain the insight needed to manage cloud costs. The tools can provide details on the changes in your cloud infrastructure, identify underutilized resources, provide a consolidated view across all your clouds, and break down billing to the departmental level. In addition, cloud management tools can ensure policies that reduce cloud spending, such as end of day shutdowns, are consistently implemented across all your resources.