According to the Cisco Cloud Index, 68 percent of the cloud workloads will be in public cloud data centers by 2020, which is a 35 percent jump from 2015. While that growth is impressive, what it doesn’t say is that many businesses are still trying to figure out the process of moving to the cloud. AWS, which currently holds about 40 percent of the market, clearly has a lot to offer. What is not as clear are the hidden costs of moving infrastructure to the cloud.
The truth of the matter is that AWS is not hiding anything from businesses, but the very nature of moving to the cloud is a complex endeavor with a lot of moving parts. Businesses of all sizes struggle with creating a cloud strategy that will maximize the benefits of the move to AWS public cloud while minimizing the costs. If we look at the process from start to finish, it’s possible to discern the costs of moving workloads to the public cloud. Here are some of the hidden costs that most organizations will face regardless of their reasons for the move.
Software Licensing Fees, Support, and Administration
When determining what workloads to move to the cloud, businesses can overlook the importance of a thorough review of all their software licensing agreements before a migration. This review is meant to ensure that the costs of current software do not increase if the system is moved to the public cloud. In addition, manually administering those licenses can tie up IT personnel resources.
Knowing what to move to the AWS public cloud is one of the fundamental AWS cost optimization tactics. Every application requires application dependency mapping, which is very time- and labor-intensive when done manually.
Applications can have numerous dependencies, meaning they are connected to other apps and services. Mapping applications can bring hidden costs due to the time and manpower it takes to track their interdependencies.
For example, it’s not uncommon to have a group of applications such as SharePoint that requires simultaneous migration of associated web content servers, SQL databases, and file backups. Enterprises can be dealing with dozens of servers, so the lack of careful planning can result in major service interruptions.
The migration process requires careful planning to ensure that applications are cloud-ready and are interoperable with the destination cloud environment. Not all chosen applications can be simply shifted to AWS public cloud instances (virtual servers). Many will require refactoring to match workloads and apps to instances. This is a highly labor-intensive process that requires time, manpower, and expertise if done manually. All of this adds untold costs that grow with each additional application, especially with larger businesses that have hundreds.
Manual Migration and Scripting
In the refactoring process, the need to use customized scripts can be time-consuming for a single application and can grow exponentially with each additional application. Once again, the time and personnel involved will bring increasing costs that will be difficult to pinpoint before starting.
Scripting mistakes can be easily missed and not become apparent until the testing and validation phase. This means rolling back the migration and taking the additional time and personnel expertise to find the scripting error, correct it, and move forward in the migration process again.
Over-Provisioning and Under-Provisioning
The process of matching instances to workloads brings its own complexities. Businesses can over-provision the instance size of the workload, which leads to unnecessary additional costs. or under-provision, which can mean that the workload will not work properly.
Cutover and Testing
The cutover and testing phase can present hidden costs that can come from a number of angles, all to do with time. For many businesses, the process can require creating an outage to complete and test the cutover. Finding a window of time that does not impact business processes can be challenging, depending on the business. Consequently, an ill-timed process can cost a business productivity, which can have serious financial ramifications.
The testing phase can uncover problems where applications are not operating properly, which can mean retracing the steps of the process to find the problem. That takes expertise and personnel time, which ultimately lengthens the migration process and adds more hidden costs.
Applications and workloads never remain static as they change and grow with the business. These changes require ongoing optimization to ensure that apps continue to operate at peak efficiency. Without this optimization process, or if it is done incorrectly, applications can stop working, bringing things to a halt for the business. The costs won’t be clear until it’s over, but the longer it takes to correct, the more it costs.
Cost Reduction Strategies
Clearly, a cloud migration is never a straightforward process, so there will always be hidden pitfalls in the shadows that can surprise even the most prepared teams. Without the proper mindset or technical understanding, an enterprise can easily wander into a situation that could put it thousands or even millions of dollars over budget.
Fortunately, there are various strategies available to lower unexpected or hidden costs of cloud computing. As an overriding approach to those strategies, expert cloud services support can help provide the experience needed to properly plan for moving infrastructure to the AWS public cloud. This can begin with expertise to support development of a cloud strategy and the personnel to either handle the migration process or augment and support in-house IT teams.
The debate regarding cloud computing vs. the data center has become a moot point for most businesses today as the hybrid model becomes the standard of business agility. While the public cloud is not right for every workload, it will continue to be a cornerstone of the hybrid model, wherein businesses both large and small can create a cloud strategy that serves them well today and tomorrow.