Managing cloud costs should be an always-on attack

Issue 1 2022 Infrastructure

We’ve all grown accustomed to hearing about the cloud and how it has changed businesses, delivering new efficiencies and capabilities for the fourth industrial revolution. Two years into the pandemic, we can also safely assume that most companies have made at least some strides and investments into cloud computing.

James Hickman.

Those that have dipped their toes into the world of the cloud have quickly come to understand the value of cost management because, for all its fourth industrial revolution power, cloud computing packs a serious financial punch if not managed tightly.

Managing cloud-related costs requires a paradigm shift. In the old world, every IT manager was measured by uptime and was punished for downtime. This needs to be turned on its head - there should be a reward for how well IT managers can keep the lights off, so to speak, while keeping the business functionality running optimally.

The costs are stacking up fast and many IT managers and C-suites are cornered, the horse has bolted and employees and customers alike enjoy and demand the functionality the cloud delivers. Businesses cannot fully disinvest from the cloud as they have become dependent on the capabilities of the cloud and IT has become reliant on this flexible platform.

It’s crucial that companies that have worked so hard at getting the foundational layer of technology up and running similarly leverage a foundational layer of management and knowledge about how to run the cloud environment effectively.

Working in the cloud is not a point-in-time activity. It can never be as it is evolving every day, meaning that there must be an always-on approach to managing costs. To be fair, a check once a month is better than nothing, but an always-on cloud cost management strategy is crucial to prevent things from spiralling out of control. How does a business go about managing cloud costs?

Buy right and size right

When a business is planning to migrate to the cloud, it needs to make sure it is buying what it needs now, not what it will need at some point in the future. In the old days, when you were investing in something like a server, you bought what you thought you would need in three years’ time, for example. You don’t need to do this with the cloud because it will expand and contract with your needs.

We see hundreds of businesses going out and buying far more than they need and this is a one-way ticket to extraordinary costs. Make sure you have a thorough understanding of the technical capabilities that you need and that you are licencing both the cloud capabilities and traditional licences correctly.

Train and educate

It’s crucial to train and educate yourself and your teams about how to keep the 'lights off'. It can become complex and so education is vital.

Managing to keep the lights off

You must understand your business requirements and then ensure you have the necessary controls and automation in place to shut down those environments when not required. Let’s understand this by way of an example: Let’s say you have one person who might need a report at 3 am. The CFO needs to ask: Am I prepared to spend R5000 a night just in case someone needs a report at 3 am? If the answer is yes, then by all means keep the system up and running.

At Altron Karabina we 'turned the lights off' during certain times of the day over the festive season and ensured that all team members knew when they’d be able to access certain functionalities. We saved significant sums of money by doing this with no interference to functionality whatsoever.

Use the tools

There are hundreds of standard tools available to customers of cloud services – use them. You may or may not be surprised by how many people don’t bother looking at the tool kit available to them or don’t bother learning to use them. These tools can have a significant positive impact on the business.

Get support

The value of managed services is worth its weight in gold. For example, when we come in and support customers and help them buy and size right, train and educate, manage the environments and optimise their businesses using the best tools available, the savings are significant. Every month, by doing this, we can show our customers where and how they can enjoy cost-saving opportunities.

The opportunities the cloud offers a business to innovate, create new solutions, enter new markets and improve customer satisfaction are significant. We need to focus on ensuring the cost is managed aggressively as it is almost impossible for a business that has realised the value of cloud to give up these benefits due to not managing the costs correctly. That is like saying we want to go back to candles because electricity is expensive yet we forget to switch off the lights when we leave a room.

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