DevOpsGroup Blog What to do when cloud costs get out of hand

What to do when cloud costs get out of hand

Sometimes the pressures of cloud migration mean ‘lift and shift’ is the only way to move large portions of the estate in a timely manner. The trouble is, when workloads aren’t modernised for the cloud, costs start to escalate, and it can be hard to get the situation under control.

If this sounds familiar, our specialist cloud and DevOps engineers recommend decisive action. These three tips will put you on the path to better cloud cost management. Fast. 

1. Stamp out overprovisioning

One of the biggest culprits for inflated cloud spend is overprovisioning to meet peak demand or expected future demand. This hangover from datacentre hosting practice quickly results in a cost headache if it isn’t put right.

Lift and shift doesn’t take advantage of cloud’s utility billing model where on-demand access to resources means you only provision for what you need, when you need it.

The ideal scenario is to simply have ‘just enough’ resources deployed, with capacity adapting in line with real-time usage patterns. Achieving this optimum state requires a blend of rightsizing and autoscaling.

Rightsizing involves matching instance types and sizes to capacity and performance requirements in the most cost-effective way. The cloud-based environment is strategically configured to meet day-to-day needs while minimising costs.

Adding autoscaling to the equation takes this to the next level. It enables infrastructure capacity to respond to sudden changes in traffic or load, whether they’re triggered by a spike in demand or failure elsewhere in the system.

Check out our blog on priming your cloud strategy to deliver cost savings.

2. Take a hard-line approach to tagging

Effective management of cloud costs requires good visibility, and a robust tagging strategy is the best way to achieve it.

When VMs have undergone a lift and shift, they often retain names that were perfectly adequate in the datacentre, but don’t clearly identify their role. This poses a challenge in the cloud environment where there are many services to manage. If costs start to increase, it’s hard to pinpoint the source let alone identify the root cause. Multiply this at scale across the entire estate, and you have a serious cost management problem.

With tagging, the original name may be retained, but it is embellished with tags that relate to variables such as the environment, use and owner. This makes it easier to organise cloud resources and allocate them to specific departments or cost centres. It also means anyone accessing the environment can quickly identify what’s what.

Tagging is an essential step when moving to the cloud, but it shouldn’t be treated as a ‘once and done’ exercise. It’s an ongoing process that ensures good visibility throughout the estate as it continues to evolve. Keeping a handle on costs, and where they come from, makes it easier to identify where cloud services can be optimised.

Read more about tagging in this blog: Five practical ways to reduce cloud costs.

3. Get serious about cloud skills

If you underestimated the gap between traditional engineering skills and those required in the cloud, you’re not alone. This issue affects many organisations, and the problem often comes to light mid-way through largescale migration.

Cost control is one of the main factors that can be hindered by this skills gap (along with security and platform resilience). It’s all very well talking about the need to implement rightsizing and autoscaling, but what if your team doesn’t know how to do it? Similarly, setting up a tagging protocol is easier said than done if nobody has capacity to take on the task. 

Experienced cloud engineers are hard to come by, so training and mentoring for existing team members is essential. Combining this with third party cloud engineering support is the best way forward for most organisations finding their feet in the cloud.

We look at the cloud operations skills gap in more detail here.

Grasp the cloud costs nettle

It’s frustrating when cloud costs exceed what was expected, and it can be hard to figure out how to get spend under control. But taking a determined and methodical approach will quickly deliver benefits. Simple processes such as tagging are an effective first step. If you need assistance with this, or more sophisticated methods such as scaling on-demand, just give us a call.

For more advice on cloud cost control and other common challenges, check out our ebook: 3 cloud management issues and how to overcome them.


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