Cloud Cost Optimisation: Why tools aren't the answer

23 August 2019

When starting with public cloud services in an organisation, the first conversations normally take place at a strategic level and are based around shifting from a CapEx to OpEx cost model. This is a great place to start, but it can create a lot of uncertainty around what those month-to-month costs are going to be for any given infrastructure footprint. 

One thing anyone new to public cloud services will notice is just how many options are available.  Whether that's simply in differing methods of hosting your apps such as IaaS, PaaS or container orchestrators, or advanced features such as how to set up a best-practice tagging regime, service catalogues and deployment automations. As organisations become multi-cloud consumers, that can exacerbate an already thorny issue - just how do you make the best use of all the available tools to ensure you're following best practices and getting the absolute best ROI for your OpEx spend?

The simple answer is; with difficulty.

This cross-discipline skill set is a new and different role in most organisations, touching finance, compliance and technical departments with equal severity.  This problem has led to a whole new class of software tools designed to try and simplify the process of managing cloud footprint. The reality is that these tools all share a fundamental problem - no current automated tool can design your infrastructure to make best use of resources. They may tell you which cloud provider is cheapest to host your workloads as they stand. They may even tell you how to make use of billing tools such as Reserved Instances (RIs) or Spot Instances to reduce some costs. But fundamentally, at least until we see some major advances in applied AI, they are unable to cast an experienced eye on both architecture and cost analysis to provide real insight into the best way to consume the wide variety of services offered by the major Cloud Service Providers.

For this reason, when we define Cloud Cost Optimisation, our definition includes human involvement from an experienced expert, not just an automated tool.

So, when you're looking to optimise cloud expenditure, there are some basic rules I would always recommend you follow:

  • Don't put all your faith in a tool; it can only do half the job
  • Don't assume this is solely something for your finance team to manage, or any other single BU
  • Realise that your move into cloud has caused fundamental business changes - both risks and opportunities
  • Make absolutely sure you know the landscape of CSP services and supporting toolsets. Don't risk your business by using obsolete or traditional methods simply because they are familiar.
  • If you feel like you're not getting the best value from your cloud spend, seek expert advice rather than letting it fail. With the right approach you can realise all the benefits of public cloud - from cost reduction to near-infinite scalability for your organisation.

The good news is that cloud cost saving vs on-premise is real - typically through cloud cost optimisation services, costs are reduced by up to 30%. But managing your cloud cost and usage strategically takes time and expertise. If you’re serious about realising the cost benefits of cloud, have been overwhelmed by the variety of tools available and are keen to talk it through with an expert, book a 15 minute consultation with me here.

Image: Daniele Levis Pelusi on Unsplash