One of the most frequently asked questions we get is “My cloud costs are out of control. How do I cut my costs in the cloud?” – What does this question really mean?
The question seems straightforward, but we found that the same people asking were also tasked with helping their company maintain the functionality they have today while continuing to innovate.
These same groups of people get in a routine of putting out fires and the question of cutting costs hangs silently without attention.
Through this blog, we’ll walk you through a few ways to keep your cloud costs in AWS and Azure low.
There are many moving parts to consider when attempting to properly measure and tune your data center production environment. In terms of strictly optimization, here are a few places to start.
1. Deploy Cloud Resources on a Small Scale - Only Pay for What You Use
The majority of the time, we see companies purchasing more storage arrays and/or compute nodes than they need or use. Yes, it’s important to have a backup plan, although if your applications or workloads don’t need the additional resources, don’t purchase them.
Resource sizing is the principle of utilizing what you are paying for to cut excess costs, maintain functionality, and ideally lower costs over time.
Think about when you cook dinner. If you add too much salt from the start, your food won’t taste as good. The more seasoned chefs will incrementally add salt over time to better fit their tastes.
If you are like us, dealing with complex cloud resources and setup is much easier than cooking, but you get the point.
Another benefit of starting small is that it allows you to measure and predict how your environment is performing. Arguably, actively measuring applications and workloads is the most important part to finding cost savings.
2. Resource Tagging - Apply Labels to Accurately Track Resources
What is Resource Tagging?
Resource tags are simply metadata labels that are assigned to your resources. If setup correctly, tagging allows you to attribute resource costs to specific business areas, even when the resources are not in use.
Each tag is a string of characters that is separate from your code architecture. The tags will only have meaning to you, so we recommend creating a naming convention with documentation to make it easy for your organization to recognize what the tags mean.
Prior to creating your tags, be sure to define what you want the tags to accomplish. The idea behind tagging is to determine things like:
What's driving my costs up or down?
Which part of the business should specific costs be charged to?
How much does it cost to operate specific products/workloads?
When you have specific goals defined, your tags will help you focus your attention on the places that need it. You’ll also be able to better predict and measure your environment to further lower cloud compute costs.
Once you actively measure your applications and workloads, reserving instances is one of the many methods to lowering cloud compute costs in any public cloud platform.
3. Reserved Instances - Measure, Then Pre-Pay for Compute Costs
What is a Reserved Instance?
A reserved instance is a pre-paid portion of compute only. Common compute resources would be Azure Virtual Machines, Amazon EC2 instances, Azure SQL Databases, Amazon RDS instances, and more. Usually, reservation terms are either one year or three-year. Once purchased, you are committed to paying for the entire term whether it is fully utilized or not.
The Benefits of Reserved Instances.
The benefit of reserving an instance vs going with an on-demand model is that the hourly compute costs are significantly lowered. Basically, knowing what you are using allows you to predict, plan, and save costs. The below image is a screenshot of the Azure Pricing Calculator which can help you determine costs before investing in additional resources.
4. Cloud Monitoring - How to Monitor Your Cloud Environment
What is Cloud Monitoring?
Cloud monitoring allows you to identify, manage, and improve the status of your cloud-based resources by using cloud-native or 3rd party measurement tools.
In terms of cost control, using cloud monitoring tools is a way to collect additional data to drive costs out of your business. Initially, your cloud spend will increase because you are adding additional services. Over time, you’ll be able to pinpoint the exact sources of excess cost and take action to lower or remove them.
Cloud Monitoring Tools - Which tool is best for you?
There are many cloud monitoring tools in the market today. Choosing the right tool for you will depend on your specific business needs and long-term goals.
The two most common cloud-native tools are Amazon CloudWatch and Microsoft Azure Monitor.
AWS Cloudwatch provides you with data and actionable insights for AWS, hybrid, and on-premises applications and infrastructure resources. You’ll be able to collect and access all your performance and operational data from a single platform. You won’t need to install any additional software since CloudWatch is native to AWS.
Azure Monitor is another cloud native tool specific to Microsoft Azure. You’ll get a full view of your application performance, gain powerful analytics, analyze log files, and identify security threats. Since Azure Monitor is cloud native, no additional software would need to be installed.
In regard to 3rd party tools, we recommend detailing your specific requirements before making a decision. Monitoring solutions will vary by price, functionality, and size of the environment being monitored.
Hire a Partner - They've built their business on Understanding the Cloud
The cloud has many complexities and often requires teams of people to understand all of the moving parts. Many organizations do not have the bandwidth or the headcount to effectively manage each portion of their cloud environment, especially in a multi-cloud setup. Unless you have the appropriate resources, hiring a partner is the difference between being good and being great.
Many partners will have dedicated resources that are specific to each cloud provider, which allows them to pull the right technical architects for a particular problem. For example, Crayon's cloud architects are well versed across each major cloud and are assigned to projects based on their core competencies.
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While there isn’t one answer to keeping cloud costs low, the best thing you can do is keep a proactive approach.Ask yourself: What are some of the things you can do in the next 10 minutes? What about in the next 2-3 weeks?
Focus on gaining short terms wins while setting yourself up for success in the long term. This will be the difference between seeing actual cost savings and a one-time fix.
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