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Five tips for trimming your cloud expenses

Without proper management and monitoring, cloud computing costs can add up quickly. Keep your cloud spending in check with these five quick links.

While cloud computing can free your organization from costly data centers, there are some aspects of the cloud that can lead to additional IT costs. For instance, unnecessary services or unused resources can easily increase your cloud expenses. To keep your cloud spending under control, craft a cost optimization plan, and consider using a cloud billing tool.

Here are five SearchCloudComputing tips to avoid sticker shock when opening up your next cloud bill:

Ten ways to control public cloud spending

Scalability is one of the biggest benefits of cloud. But to keep costs in check, be sure to "right-size" cloud instances or resources so you only pay for what you need. In addition, peak times or high compute demand can drive up cloud prices. To avoid these higher prices, move your workloads to other service areas where demand and prices are lower, according to this tip from Stephen Bigelow.

If you need resources for a short-term project, check if your public cloud provider has any spare resources out for bid; this allows users to access resources for a short timeframe, but at a discounted price.  Also, track your workloads using tools such as scaling tags or alarms, which many cloud providers offer. These will help identify any unused resources and keep your cloud expenses under control.

Cloud spending doesn't need to be a guessing game

Migrating applications to the cloud can be costly if your apps are not designed for cloud, so plan ahead to avoid additional application redesign costs.

Cloud's self-service model can make it difficult to track spending. Before cloud adoption, craft a plan to anticipate your needs and prevent overspending, according to this tip from Paul Korzeniowski. As part of that plan, don't run cloud resources that aren't being used, and see if you qualify for usage-based accounts.

There is no need to get lost in multiple cloud bills, so use third-party tools such as Cloud Cruiser, Cloudability, Cloudyn and Talligent to track cloud expenses and uncover hidden costs. A hidden cost you might not anticipate, for instance, is caused by shadow IT, where employees bypass IT to run new applications.

Four private cloud costs IT pros often overlook

With private cloud, IT teams still need to maintain a data center, so tracking cloud expenses is critical, according to this tip from Stephen Bigelow. Migrating applications to the cloud can be costly if your apps are not designed for cloud, so plan ahead to avoid additional application redesign costs. Also, when moving to the cloud, make sure your data center can support the cloud's resiliency and high availability. This can be done through workload balancing, clustering and other data center technologies.

Despite popular belief, cloud automation isn't automatic. Automation processes require rule sets that need to be reviewed and updated by IT staff -- which could rack up additional costs. Organizations also have to be mindful of the new business processes associated with cloud. Employees will no longer have to wait for IT staff or managers to facilitate computing needs. As a result, you may need to create new use policies to reign in the chaos, which could drive up costs.

Cut costs with these four cloud optimization tricks

Additional or premium cloud features, such as elasticity or high availability, can drive up cloud costs. To determine the cloud features you need -- and those that you don't -- run a pilot test for the application you expect to account for the majority of your cloud usage and costs, according to this tip from Tom Nolle. If a premium feature's cost outweighs its value, you may not want to use it.

Also, know which apps are right for the cloud. For example, applications that generate high traffic need more storage and maintenance, both of which cost money. Some applications might be more expensive to host in the cloud, and would be better off staying on-premises.

When negotiating cloud prices or service-level agreements, be sure to compare prices from different providers. If you aren't getting the best cloud service for the best price, it may be time to rethink your choice of vendor.

Cloud cost optimization techniques for enterprise apps

Another way to trim cloud expenses is to perform a cost assessment and understand your applications' total cost of ownership. For some applications, PaaS or SaaS may be more cost effective hosting options than IaaS, according to this tip from Tom Nolle.  When comparing these services, check if your cloud provider offers volume discounts or discounted features as part of a package.

Always question your choices. Ask why you bought certain features or packages and if they fit your needs and budget. And remember that you can look for better pricing elsewhere; startups or smaller cloud vendors, for example, may offer lower prices than major cloud providers.

Next Steps

Track cloud spending with cost analysis tools

Understand your cloud bills across providers

Build a cloud cost optimization plan

This was last published in January 2016

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