4 Strategies for Cloud Cost Optimization

We’ve talked about the most common causes of cloud waste, and how they can negatively impact your company’s bottom line.

Whether it’s choosing the wrong instance size, not fully understanding cloud pricing options, leaving unused resources running, or locking yourself into inflexible reserved instance contracts, there are lots of ways to end up with a cloud bill that wreaks havoc on your financials.

What can you do to keep cloud costs down and reduce your part of the $14.1 billion that will be wasted on cloud compute resources in 2019? You can avoid cloud waste by adopting smart cloud cost optimization strategies. Here are a few good places to start.

1. Don’t Over-Provision Your Cloud Infrastructure

Remember when there was that great deal on strawberries so you bought a bunch because you thought you’d surely eat them? And then you never did? Just like it’s hard to figure out what you’re really going to eat in a week, it’s hard to figure out what resources your software really needs in order to run. You can use a monitoring solution to determine what your resource utilization actually looks like in production, determining how much of critical resources like memory, CPU, disk, networking and more you’re using. Then, it’s a matter of aligning that with an instance size (which unfortunately sometimes feels more like blindly buying strawberries in bulk than reaching for a pre-packaged pint, considering the sheer number of options per cloud service provider).

2. Turn Off Idle Cloud Infrastructure

The main cause of idle capacity is leaving non-production machines up and running 24/7. Consider spinning down build, QA, demo and development environments during off hours. You can schedule them to turn off when your night owls leave and turn back on before the early birds come in. On the production side, use auto-scaling groups to help meet peak demand times. And of course, be vigilant that as people and products come and go you’re monitoring what systems are actually being used.

3. Demystify Cloud Pricing

In order to calculate cloud costs, it often feels like you have to learn a different language. Different cloud service providers use different terminology for the exact same things (for example, “instances” vs “virtual machines”). If you’re not well-versed in the lexicon used by different providers, it’s nearly impossible to compare costs. What AWS calls “on-demand instances” Azure calls “pay as you go.” On top of that, there are so many different options to choose from (memory optimized? Disk optimized? Burstable performance instances across multiple generations?), it’s enough to make anyone want to pull their hair out.

Oh, and did we mention most price by the hour, whatever that even means?

If pricing is so confusing, why don’t providers simplify things for their customers? Because when pricing is confusing, it’s easier for the customer to go with vendor-recommended guidelines so they don’t have to deal with complicated decision making. While it’s in the best interest of providers to keep their customers happy, vendors will often upsell to make sure the customer is covered “just in case.” That often means you’re paying for something you really don’t need.

If keeping cloud costs down is a priority, then consider keeping provisioning decisions in your own hands, not the vendor’s. Be patient. Learn the language. Don’t let frustration lead you down the path of least resistance—It’s expensive down there!

4. Understand How to Purchase Instance Resources

You’re going to need to purchase instance resources, which involves a bit of planning and research. Three choices you’re faced with are:

On-demand instances. Arguably the most popular type of instance, because it’s the most flexible. Here, you’re charged a fixed hourly rate with no contract or commitment.

Spot instances. A bit more complicated—Spot instances let you bid for instance capacity, naming the price you’re willing to pay. If it doesn’t matter when your application is running, and it’s not a problem for the application to stop running if the bid price isn’t available, this instance type can save you quite a bit of money.

Reserved instances. Essentially, you’re making a reservation for the future capacity you plan to use. Here, you save money because you’re committing in advance to a long-term instance purchase.

There’s a reason most folks choose on-demand instances — they work for most workloads. Spot instances, for many, require re-architecting to make work, so you pay for development time instead of compute time. On the other hand, while reserved instances CAN save you a lot of money, whenever you agree to a contract, you’re restricting your flexibility. If you buy capacity today, what happens if you don’t need as much tomorrow? Or, if a competitor comes out with a better-priced option? Less flexibility ties your hands and prevents you from optimizing until your contract runs out. That can be costly in the long run.

Still Feeling Overwhelmed?

We get it. It’s a lot.

With all of these complicated concerns to tackle, it’s no wonder that over 50% of RightScale’s State of the Cloud respondents said that cloud cost optimization was their top concern two years in a row. And while the consequences surrounding the rotten strawberries in your refrigerator is negligible, the ramifications for your company when it comes to cloud waste are much more dangerous. The result of money being wasted on unused, idle, or over-provisioned resources is money your company could be putting toward its own growth and development.

How Sunshower.io Can Help

Building and managing cloud infrastructure can be extremely complicated and time consuming, especially when you don’t have a lot of experience on the cloud, or deep pockets to hire a team to handle your cloud management. This gives large companies a huge advantage over the little guys, and can leave folks without a strong tech background feeling behind the curve.

Sunshower.io aims to change all that.

Helping de-mystify these decisions is literally the reason Sunshower.io exists. We’ve experienced first-hand how challenging it is to migrate, manage, and monitor cloud resources. As a result, Sunshower.io acts as an equalizing tool that makes everyone an instant cloud expert. We see a future where companies can build their own cloud infrastructure more easily and efficiently, and feel confident that everything running on the cloud is fully optimized. (Best of all, our algorithms cut AWS EC2 cloud bills by 40-80%.)

At Sunshower.io, we give you a cloud management platform with tools to easily control the entire lifecycle of your cloud infrastructure. There’s no learning different systems, different pricing structures, or different terminology across cloud service providers. We automate all the decisions and present you with the best options across different vendors and clouds so you can be sure that you’ve achieved total cloud optimization. We want to help companies clear away cloud confusion, and empower them to create the most efficient cloud management system possible.

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