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Estimate cloud computing costs prior to app migration

Enterprises should enlist a number of resources, including cost calculators and third-party tools, to assess what they'll pay for cloud computing -- before they start migration.

Cost reduction is a major driver for enterprise cloud adoption. But the devil is in the details, as cloud computing costs can quickly exceed those of on-premises infrastructure without proper planning.

Cloud migration can come with a hefty price tag of its own, due to one-time setup costs that are similar to capital expenses in the traditional data center. And, even after workloads reside in the cloud, there are numerous factors, such as data storage and transit costs, that can increase ongoing, operational expenses. In addition, the ease with which users can deploy cloud services can quickly increase their monthly bill.

To avoid sticker shock, enterprises should carefully estimate cloud computing costs -- including those associated with initial migration -- before they move off premises.

Weigh upfront vs. ongoing costs

In the simplest case, an enterprise can launch an existing application in the cloud, migrate data and then redirect services to use the cloud-hosted version of the app. This migration approach -- known as lift and shift -- is inexpensive upfront but could end up costing an enterprise more in the long run, as the app hasn't been refactored to take advantage of cloud architectures. It can also be costly to synchronize critical business data in this model and to ensure the cloud-hosted app integrates into existing IT management infrastructure.

As a result, it's common for enterprises to refactor applications before they move to the cloud. This process can present more upfront costs, particularly for highly customized or legacy applications, but helps reduce ongoing costs.

In general, consider migrating applications that run on Windows VMs to Linux VMs as another cost-saving measure. And be careful with licensed applications, such as ERP systems, as these workloads can especially rack up costs due to pre-existing licensing agreements. Data-intensive workloads can also result in high data transit fees.

There are cloud migration consultants that can perform customized cost estimates to help an enterprise get a better sense for both its upfront and ongoing costs. They can also provide guidance to refactor and migrate applications, synchronize data to the cloud and renegotiate software licensing agreements.

Use cloud cost calculators, other tools

Cloud cost calculators and estimation tools let enterprises gauge the overall cost of a particular configuration before they migrate. These assessments are based on compute instance size, data storage requirements, and network and SaaS usage. This information is valuable to evaluate costs and determine if an app is a good candidate for cloud, prior to making a move.

Tools from leading IaaS providers to estimate cloud computing costs include:

  • AWS Total Cost of Ownership Calculator
  • Microsoft Azure Pricing Calculator
  • Google Cloud Platform Pricing Calculator

These cloud cost calculators provide an interface to estimate infrastructure costs based on the products and services an enterprise plans to use and how often.

AWS has an additional tool, Simple Monthly Calculator, that gives more detailed pricing estimates based on factors such as data transfers and also includes customizable templates for different application scenarios.

While these native tools can be helpful, they are somewhat limited in their ability to assess licensing, migration and multi-cloud computing costs.

There are, however, third-party tools to compare the costs of similar services across cloud providers. These tools -- including Unigma's Public Cloud Cost Comparison Calculator and RightScale's Cloud ROI Calculator -- make it easier to roughly compare prices when migrating a given app or workload across platforms.

In addition, there are cloud migration modeling tools with more sophisticated techniques to gauge costs for existing applications. For example, TSO Logic provides a complex cost assessment tool that determines the current cost of ownership for existing apps. It then makes recommendations around the most economical place to deploy different workloads. BMC TrueSight Cloud Cost Control can automatically inventory existing applications and simulate the cost of migrating them to different cloud platforms.

This was last published in October 2018

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