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How to avoid cloud sticker shock
Without planning and oversight, you could not only miss out on cloud savings but also get some surprise bills. Consider these five preventative tips
Automate as much as possible
Mor Cohen, CTO at Turbonomic, notes the seesaw some organizations ride between under- and over-provisioning infrastructure. Under-provisioning is a killer in the digital age, she says, leading to outages and other damaging performance issues.
In fact, that scenario is why some organizations move to the cloud in the first place. But this often leads to the problem at hand: Overspending, by overprovisioning.
“Most organizations overprovision,” Cohen says. “In order to avoid performance impacts, they allocate infrastructure for peak demand and add a buffer on top of that.”
Again, this is where one of cloud’s big benefits comes with a downside that needs to be managed.
“The ability to easily provision new resources helps application teams deploy the resources they need when they need them, while also creating an explosion of idle and unused resources that become very costly,” Cohen says.
How do you get off the seesaw? Automate as much as possible.
“In order to avoid this and unlock the promise of hybrid cloud, IT departments need to automate,” Cohen says. “There are simply too many dynamic, fluctuating workloads distributed across complex environments for an IT team to manage manually. There are countless important scaling and placement decisions that need to be made, and mistakes are critical and costly.”
Avoiding sticker shock is far from the only reason to automate: As you increase your use of cloud services, you're going to hit a wall without automation. “The result of automation is scalability – less effort per person to maintain and grow your IT environment, as Red Hat VP, Global Services John Allessio has noted. “If adding manpower is the only way to grow your business, then scalability is a pipe dream. Automation reduces your manpower requirements and provides the flexibility required for continued IT evolution.”
[ Need to learn more on automation? Get the free eBook: The Automated Enterprise. ]
Cloud spend may need to be someone’s job
Governance and automation, in particular, are powerful weapons against cloud sticker shock, but some organizations will hit a point where the distributed scale of their cloud environments will need dedicated human focus to ensure you’re achieving the goals of your cloud strategy while staying within budgetary requirements.
This is a reason why we’re likely to see the growth of an emerging IT role that blends technical and financial skills. This person's primary role is to manage and optimize multiple cloud vendors and services.
It’s already on the scene: A recent search on jobs site Indeed turned up open positions with titles like cloud optimization analyst and cloud cost accountant. Arizona State University's job post for the latter seeks someone who “will be responsible for monitoring infrastructure costs to ensure adherence to client standards; recommending cost reduction measures to ensure optimal configuration from budgetary perspectives; performing infrastructure billing and optimization activities; maintaining cost information on a daily basis using third-party, or custom tools; preparing forward-looking cost estimations to support client and project needs.”
At a certain point, cloud-minded organizations find that monitoring and optimizing cloud spend is literally a full-time job; expect the trend to continue in larger enterprises, especially with multi-cloud strategy becoming the norm.
[ Are you ready to discuss cloud security concerns? Get our concise guide (.PDF) to learn from the experts: Hybrid cloud security: 5 questions skeptics will ask. ]