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Control the cloud bill and avoid unexpected costs

Don't get discouraged by high cloud costs. Use these four tips to whip your bill into shape.

Enterprises invest money in cloud services, and many struggle to accurately forecast costs and experience sticker shock when they see their cloud bill. While public cloud touts lower costs than the capital investments of an on-premises data center, it's only true when you manage the cloud perfectly.

There can be a learning curve to avoid overspending after a migration or cloud-native deployment, which means increased costs don't have to be permanent. Use these four tips to optimize cloud spending and prevent budget overages.

Account for cloud computing costs

Some enterprises want to save on hardware costs, so they migrate to public cloud and unknowingly buy more cloud infrastructure than they need. Commonly, IT organizations fail to shut down unused instances and environments. Third-party management tools, such as ParkMyCloud, Scalr and RightScale, can get rid of unused resources, right-size instances, and automate turn-on and shut-off controls.

Another challenge that enterprises face is shadow IT in which employees use or purchase software without the knowledge of the IT department. If these products aren't vetted and accounted for, they can contribute to surprise costs.

Pinpoint app performance issues

While management and monitoring tools can help boost app performance, that monthly cloud bill can tell you what needs improvement. Typically, if an app doesn't perform well, it will cost more to run in cloud -- a performance issue that won't be as immediately apparent on a typically overprovisioned set of owned hardware.

cloud costs optimization
Cloud's wasteful spenders are not alone.

One indicator of poor performance comes from the network. If the bill shows high costs for VMs but bandwidth costs remain the same, the app potentially uses more memory but doesn't support more users. In this situation, it inefficiently consumes resources.

Another indicator is storage. When storage costs increase but the number of users stays the same, you have an application performance problem. Make sure the app performs data rotations to ensure that it doesn't use more storage than required.

Minimize cloud scaling costs

Without preparation, you will just throw money out the window.

Scalability, a top benefit of cloud, is also a common culprit for wasteful spending. Hybrid and multi-cloud are now common deployment models, and when you scale, there can be numerous border crossings. Providers often charge for egress and ingress traffic, and those costs can add up if your apps deal with constant demand. Pay close attention to your provider's pricing model, and examine how much scaling a workload requires.

One key way to reduce the cloud bill is to make sure that, after an app scales up to meet demand, it scales back down when demand drops. With the right monitoring tools, you can detect a decrease in usage and have resources automatically and appropriately turn off.

Avoid wasteful spending

Not all enterprises properly prepare for cloud migrations, especially when it comes to costs. You can't simply trust that public cloud is cheaper. It is important to change your mindset and understand that, when things are cheap in an on-premises infrastructure, they may cost more in cloud. Without preparation, you will just throw money out the window.

Enterprises need to account for all their resources and attach each one to a dollar value. For example, when IT teams see the monetary value associated with cloud storage, it could encourage them to research more storage optimization techniques and prevent wasteful spending before it happens. To determine if you will save money in the cloud, understand your data from a business perspective.

This was last published in February 2019

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How do you deal with wasteful spending in cloud?
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Things done to save internally can be mimicked to save in cloud - e.g. monitor resource not used for x months for de-activation.  Thoughts ?

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