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3 Ways To Avoid Cloud Cost Overruns

When the cloud first entered everyday business language, it offered the promise of massive cost reductions in IT spending. However, five years have passed since these promises were first made, and more and more businesses are realizing today that although the benefits of moving to the cloud are strong (agility, innovation and access to critical data and applications, to name a few), random costs are popping up along the way.

As a result, IT administrators have found themselves in an interesting predicament. They realize the potential of a cloud program and the associated benefits of deploying a cloud solution, but also understand that issues can pop up and prevent long-term success. To make the most out of a cloud investment from the get-go, here are three not-so-obvious things you can do that will help the cloud save your business money in more ways than one

1. Never leave the cloud “running.”  When cloud instances are left operating during off-peak times, this inefficiency results in accumulated charges. To paint a clear picture, would you leave your water running when you’re not home? The same scenario holds true for computing tasks. If a task is processing when no one is there to track and manage it, any potential cost savings you could gain by utilizing cloud infrastructure goes right out the window. It's crucial to have controls in place to help monitor resource utilization and to ensure cycles are not wasted.

2. Embrace a “utility” delivery model. In a traditional capex IT spending model, organizations are accustomed to large, up-front hardware and software purchases, usually every three to five years. Moving to a cloud-centric, opex model should be much more manageable because things shift to a recurring monthly subscription, similar to how you pay your water bill. This reduces or eliminates the major forklift upgrades we’ve become accustomed to in the IT world, and allows us to grow resources gradually as the business requires.

It might take some time for organizations to start thinking like a utility company, but those that do so quickly and efficiently are going to have a leg up on the competition.

3. Invest in the right tools. A change in processes is necessary to manage a cloud deployment, but the right tool set is needed to track legitimate usage and consumption on an ongoing basis.

Ideally, a system of accounting and management that tracks things like CPU cycles, network bandwidth and storage consumed -- not just units purchased and sitting idle -- will help a company determine if costs can be cut based on what resources are actually being consumed. Having an automated process in place that does the detective work for you will provide added insight into the true ROI of your cloud investment.

The benefits of cloud infrastructure are real and extremely compelling, however, steps need to be taken to realize the promises of time and cost savings. By altering your management processes and deploying the right tool set, you will have the ability to pin-point specific areas of your cloud deployment that can be optimized to get it working as efficiently as possible, and start to see the cost efficiency of the investment.

It all comes down to right-sizing. If cloud resources are wasted or over-provisioned, you may even see your infrastructure costs increase. Be careful out there!

What obstacles has your organization faced when running cloud environments and how have you solved them? Please share your cloud experiences in the comments section below.