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Reduce the costs of cloud computing heading into 2017

Factors ranging from resource sprawl to a lack of coordination can make cloud computing costs unnecessarily high. Trim your expenses with these cost-cutting tips.

With 2016 coming to a close, enterprises will open up the books to take stock of what they've spent -- including on cloud services. And, in some cases, organizations will realize that the costs of cloud computing are greater than they expected.

To reduce costs heading into the new year, here are five of the top cloud cost management tips of 2016.

Don't migrate apps to the cloud without considering the costs

Not all applications will save you money if you move them to the public cloud. In fact, up to 40% of enterprise applications actually cost more in cloud than they would on premises. Fortunately, there are a couple of indicators that suggest an application will be more expensive to run in the cloud.

Review the application's design and code, using code analyzers, to determine the amount of cloud resources the application will use. If it uses an excess of resources, your development team could rewrite the application, but that will produce more costs and risk.

Data location also has an effect on an application's cost in the cloud. If the cloud-hosted app uses data that is stored on premises, network latency can occur, hurting performance and driving up costs. Lastly, an application with strict security and compliance requirements may drive up the costs of cloud computing in the long run.

Use cloud auto scaling, tagging to give unneeded resources the boot

The cloud is a dynamic environment that scales up and down to meet demand. Such scalability requires instance management that is equally active -- like auto scaling. But it is still important for admins to identify and scale back any unused cloud resources to reduce costs. Cloud tagging -- or a service that applies tags to cloud resources to help admins spot those that are unneeded -- is one way to achieve this.

Top cloud providers, such as Amazon Web Services, Azure and Google, provide monitoring, scaling and load balancing services that can also help admins identify under-used cloud resources. But scaling tools are also available from third-party vendors, which, in some cases, can better meet an enterprise's needs. Because some of these tools are industry-specific, perform testing before implementation.

Practice cloud resource management to reduce sprawl, cut costs

There is such a thing as too much cloud. Cloud sprawl, for example, drives up costs due to the overprovisioning of cloud resources, a lack of coordination and, in some cases, the ineffective use of multiple providers. When dealing with cloud resources, central IT teams should set guidelines to reduce wastefulness.

Develop a cloud policy and resource pool that ensures IT and line organizations pick providers and models that will use resources effectively. Multicloud computing has increased in popularity, but the potential for service redundancy complicates cloud resource management. Appoint a central person or team to monitor cloud policies and ensure they're enforced, and be sure to review cloud bills on an ongoing basis.

Cloud cost management tips for working with multiple vendors

Larger enterprises increasingly turn to the multicloud model but, without careful monitoring, the costs of that model can start to rise. The first step to stay within your budget is to evaluate what the providers charge. Moving data between multiple providers -- that likely have different pricing models -- can raise the costs of cloud computing. Pay specific attention to data access and storage charges, which is where most of the money starts to add up.

Identify where you will rack up charges by mapping out how your application data will flow between cloud platforms. Do this by examining your applications and the many layers they are built upon. The bottom layer of an application, for example, generally deals with real-time data access, so avoid spreading those components across multiple clouds. Lastly, do not overlook possible issues with integration and lifecycle management. Address these issues early on to avoid problems later.

Control the costs of cloud storage with these five steps

One of the main draws of cloud is the vast amount of storage it offers. Enterprises benefit from the competition among top providers in terms pricing, but add-on services can quickly increase the costs of cloud computing. Evaluate your storage needs and use only the add-on services, such as those for disaster recovery, you require.

When storing data in the cloud, duplication drives up costs. Take a look at data deduplication services to lower network traffic and increase performance, and identify outdated or unused data to free up resources.

Next Steps

Keep public cloud spending under control

Devise a cost optimization plan for cloud

Strike a balance between cloud cost and performance

This was last published in December 2016

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How did you reduce cloud computing costs in 2016?
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We use Spotinst. We initially stayed away from spot as it was easily interrupted. With the Spotinst platform we've been able to run prod and staging on Spot instances. We save about 72% -81% a month on our Ec2 bill.
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