Organizations often turn to cloud solutions because of the flexibility that “as a service” offerings provide. If you need more computing power, storage space, bandwidth, licenses, etc., those resources are rapidly at your disposal. There is no need to buy new hardware, install software, or upgrade your infrastructure to handle it, because your cloud service provider has it ready for you to meet any growth. Unfortunately, when these resources are so easy and quick to spin up, costs start to rise proportionately.
Fortunately, you can optimize your costs when employing solutions like Amazon Web Services (AWS) if you know the right steps to take. Here are four simple tactics for AWS cost optimization:
1. Understand your capacity requirements up front
A Network Computing article aptly titled “Is Capacity Planning Dead in the Cloud Era?” points out that many IT professionals think of infinite capacity when they move to the cloud. However, they fail to consider that capacity costs money. High availability and rapid deployment are expected in today’s businesses, but when the bill comes due and it is much higher than anticipated, that can quickly become a problem.
Planning for capacity requirements takes some practice. While tools like Cloudamize for AWS will help, you still need to do some of the legwork on your own, including:
- Understanding your service-level agreements
- Knowing your organization’s utilization patterns
- Keeping track of workload analytics
- Ensuring that your environment is configured properly for your needs and not relying on cookie-cutter implementations
- Optimizing your disaster recovery processes
- Knowing any business requirements and to include business-critical data and applications
2. Know What Should, and Shouldn’t, Be Moved to the Cloud
The amount of data you store in your cloud environment correlates to the amount of money you are spending on your cloud storage services but also SaaS solutions that live in the cloud. Likewise, moving that data back and forth will incur costs. Duplicate data has the same effect on costs and simply wastes money.
Organizations find that they can save a great deal of money if they employ proper data management techniques prior to moving data to the cloud. Policies that address what type of data is created, how long data is retained, how it is archived, and who has access help control costs by keeping data under control. Additionally, you can re-tier data so that less critical information can be moved to a lower-cost storage solution or deleted entirely.
3. Make Use of the Different Options
Another selling point of cloud solutions is high availability. It’s great to have everything available when you need it, but is it always necessary? For instance, do you really need a reserved instance for a proof-of-concept application or a QA testing environment? More than likely, you don’t. An on-demand solution may be the best route to take in these scenarios, because you pay for computing cycles by the hour with no long-term commitment.
Alternatively, organizations find costs savings using spot instances as well. Spot instances are unused Amazon EC2 instances that a person or company can bid for. When the bid is higher than the current spot price, the instance is launched for use. This can drastically reduce costs; however, should the spot price rise higher than your bid, the instance will stop, and you will have to go through the process again with a higher bid or wait until the spot price drops below your bid. Ideally, you would use a spot instance for tasks that you can run anytime you have the available computing capacity. Because they are intermittent, you wouldn’t want to run any business-critical applications on this type of instance.
4. Work with an MSP to Make the Right Choices
Understanding data management, utilization patterns, workload analytics, etc. takes a great deal of expertise and experience. You need to understand what tools will accurately measure usage patterns to best optimize cost savings and how to use them. Data management requires careful planning so that critical data is not unavailable or inadvertently destroyed. Determining the best uses for on-demand or spot incidences requires careful planning as well.
Partnering with a trusted managed services provider (MSP) brings these skills to your team. Having worked with AWS cost optimization and usage, they can review your current plans, processes, and policies to quickly spot where you can take advantage of some significant cost-savings tactics.
Additionally, the right MSP will have long, established relationships with vendors like Amazon that they can leverage to help ensure that you get the best possible solution for the right price.
It has been proven time and time again that moving to the cloud, the right way, has the potential to save an organization a significant amount of money. However, why stop there? Understanding how your organization can best utilize cloud solutions can help you save even more.