Maarten De Moor
How to keep your cloud costs from spiralling out of control?
Thomas is CIO of Everything & Beyond Digital Inc, a fast growing organization with – as the name suggests – a very diverse array of activities. In light of the rapid expansion, most departments have been migrating to cloud under Thomas’ supervision. Why? For better scalability, more agile innovation and also to make digital collaboration more effortless.
About a year later, Thomas is faced with rising IT costs he did not anticipate.
Do you recognize the symptom in your IT activities, after your cloud migration? Then the diagnosis might be: cloud sprawl.
What is cloud sprawl?
Cloud sprawl is the emergence of unmanaged or over-scaled workloads running in a cloud environment. These problems are caused by a lack of management, strategy, and monitoring.
In the case of Everything & Beyond Digital Inc For instance, workloads in various departments are tested and moved around by eager developers. Subsequently, they are often unnecessarily left running. They therefore not only occupy space, but also cause vulnerabilities for security and data integrity.
How to prevent cloud sprawl?
1. Create and enforce a cloud strategy
Everything starts with a good strategy. You need to think about how you will implement cloud into your IT infrastructure. Will you use a full cloud or hybrid setup? Which workloads will you migrate to the cloud? Compliance and data protection regulations are often important drivers for your decisions. These decisions should be documented in your cloud strategy.
2. Educate your IT staff and developers about cloud
When you have migrated workloads to your cloud environment, it is up to your internal IT to maintain that environment. Therefore, it’s important that they master the basics of cloud, how they can access resources, which cloud-specific troubleshooting tools are available etc.
For developers, it’s also important to have a basic understanding of the cloud too. Cloud comes with some solutions (e.g. CI/CD, low-code…) that can enhance the way they work.
Not only IT staff and developers should be educated about cloud, but a basic understanding of cloud is also important for every employee of your company. In the end, they will use your IT infrastructure and applications. The way they access applications, files, and other company assets might change when you move to the cloud and adopt PaaS or SaaS solutions.
3. Use a cost management tool
Almost every cloud platform has its own cost management tool. Let’s take Azure cost management as an example. It’s a tool with a wide range of services to get insights into your Azure cost and usage, keep your budget under control and perform administrative tasks.
You can investigate the cloud usage of specific business departments, applications, resources etc. By assigning certain budgets and by enabling alerts, you will be aware of when your cost exceeds the provisioned budget. You even get forecasts on how the cost of your services will evolve over time. That allows you to take action before you exceed your budget. You get advisory recommendations on how you can save costs by identifying oversized or unused resources.
All these things allow you to keep your cloud cost under control and act if needed.
To wrap up: use a cloud migration framework for your journey to the cloud
Everything comes together in a cloud migration framework.
As we mentioned earlier, a cloud strategy is crucial in your cloud adoption journey and that’s why it’s part of Microsoft’s CAF. Aside from a good strategy, it’s important to prepare your people and bring them up to speed with cloud.
When you start your migration to the cloud, you don’t simply lift and shift everything to your cloud environment. You need to take a critical look at each server. If the application will eventually be phased out (and your current infrastructure allows it), it might be interesting to keep that workload running in your on-premises data center for a while.
Maybe there are applications that can be easily replaced by PaaS or SaaS solutions, resulting in relieving the administrative overhead of patching and updating the OS? Or maybe there are servers running on outdated operating systems? This may be the ideal occasion to reinstall your applications on a modern OS.
Bottom line: cloud is a continuous journey
The journey doesn’t end after the big wave of migrations. Post-migration, the innovative phase truly starts, because there are often still a lot of opportunities to shift to PaaS or SaaS solutions. To make sure your cloud environment remains in a healthy state, it should be governed, managed, and optimized.