You Don’t Have to Dread Opening Your Cloud Bill
What comes after you migrate to cloud? The bill for using cloud services. That bill comes every month, and can be surprisingly high. It’s important that a cloud migration plan includes a strategy for managing cloud costs as well as managing cloud technology.
Cloud Spending Challenges
There are a number of factors that can make it hard to control cloud costs and result in unexpectedly high cloud spending:
Old purchasing habits.
Because it’s often slow and difficult to add capacity in a data center, most new systems are over-provisioned and have spare capacity to allow for growth. This habit can carry over to cloud, where it’s unnecessary and costly, as resources can easily be added when needed. The lift and shift cloud approach to cloud migration increases the risk that businesses will overpay for cloud resources.
New purchasing habits.
In traditional IT, all hardware and software purchases go through an approval process, and only a few employees have the authority to okay the purchase. In cloud, resources are obtained via a self-service model, with less control. In addition, many cloud resources come with a free trial that turns into an ongoing expense if the employee forgets to cancel when the trial period ends.
Old IT management habits.
In most data centers, systems are left active except perhaps for a weekly reboot. There’s no extra cost to doing this and it reduces the support needed. In cloud, however, leaving idle systems active can count as “usage” and result in charges accruing even when there’s no processing going on.
Complicated cloud bills.
Cloud bills are simultaneously over-detailed and under-detailed. Itemized bills can provide very detailed numbers for very specific line items. At the same time, it can be hard to correlate those line items with the systems and business units they relate to, making it difficult to understand where cloud expenses really come from.
Multiple cloud bills.
If a business has multiple cloud providers, as most do, each provider sends their own bill. It’s difficult to consolidate the data and get a complete understanding of all your cloud resources and how and why you have them.
Complicated cloud pricing.
There are many variables affecting how cloud usage is priced. Not only does pricing depend on how instances are sized, it also depends on how instances are purchased. Both reserved instances and spot instances can result in lower spending, depending on circumstances. In addition, pricing schedules change frequently, making it hard to identify opportunities for savings.
Overcoming Cloud Spending Challenges
There are several ways businesses can overcome those challenges:
1. Automate enforcement of policies that control costs.
For example, instances can be automatically shut down at night to reduce utilization.
2. Effectively tag resources to correlate usage to business units.
Develop an appropriate labeling strategy so resources can be correctly linked to their business units for chargebacks and monitoring.
3. Use cost optimization tools.
Cloud cost optimization tools help analyze usage of cloud resources, identifying wasted spending such as over-provisioned instances.