Cloud computing certainly makes deploying complex solutions easier. You no longer need to make massive investments in servers and other supporting hardware. You don’t even need your own cloud cluster. Through the IaaS business model, you can now spool up all the computing resources you need in specific regions across the globe.
Cloud clusters are no longer limited by the number of cores or computing resources you can have. You can have petabytes of storage for a relatively low cost. However, these conveniences don’t mean you can forget about optimizing your cloud infrastructure and managing your costs. Here are the 12 practical things you can do to start saving immediately
Find Unused Instances
Saving on your cloud infrastructure can be as simple as finding unused instances and destroying them. This may sound absurd at first, but when you have complex cloud infrastructure – or several of them – it is easy to forget about a couple of smaller instances. These forgotten instances are raking up costs even though you don’t use them.
You can easily find unused resources by checking for unattached instances or storage buckets. All cloud service providers have tools that can help you identify unused computing resources with a simple search or some filters.
Consolidate Underutilized Instances
Another thing you can do immediately is checking for cloud instances that are not utilized fully. Rather than having 10 computing instances running at 10%, it is a lot more efficient to have two running at 50%, considering you need the buffer to handle spikes.
Of course, consolidation isn’t the only way to save on underutilized instances. You can reduce the sizes of underutilized instances for better efficiency. The combined cost will be significantly lower. The key here is not to neglect small inefficiencies. They add up to a large cloud expense every month very quickly.
An important step that often gets neglected when spooling up new cloud instances is planning. There’s a simple reason for that: cloud resources are perceived to be affordable. Planning, actually forecasting the resource needs, and creating a suitable infrastructure to support your application are necessary steps to take.
Overestimation always leads to the previous two problems we discussed earlier. When poor planning leads to inefficiencies, you are also sacrificing scalability. There is a simple reason for this too: deciding to scale up when your cloud costs are already expensive is more difficult.
Work with Experts
Cloud cost optimization can be quite complex when you don’t have the experience, but even that doesn’t need to be an issue. Virtasant and their cloud services experts can help you reduced your costs. Cloud optimization becomes a service that your business can utilize.
You don’t have to worry about the service costs either. When you have inefficient cloud infrastructure, the service essentially pays for itself. More importantly, cloud cost optimization is done continuously, making future inefficiencies a nonexistent problem.
Continuing with our practical tips for cloud cost optimization, we have good monitoring. Monitoring isn’t just useful for performance tracking, but also for identifying cost anomalies. This means the metrics you are monitoring need to go beyond performance.
Metrics that can help identify cost anomalies include resource usage, real-time and daily cloud cost, and spikes alerts. The combination helps prevent unnecessary spikes in cost, such as when elastic instances don’t contract correctly after a spike.
Again, always keep in mind that no amount is too small to save. After all, this is about optimizing your cloud costs, and those small savings add up.
Speaking of elastic instances, going elastic is a great way to save on cloud costs. Rather than blocking cloud resources even when they are not in use, elastic resources are designed to be available whenever spikes happen.
Keep in mind that elastic server instances are relatively more expensive when compared apple-to-apple with pre-allocated blocks, and not all systems can benefit from elastic server instances. Make sure you run a thorough check on whether your application can take advantage of flexible resource allocation.
Sticking with flexible resource allocation as a theme, we also have automated resource provisioning. In a CI/CD pipeline, for instance, the creation, deployment, and deletion of server instances can be fully automated to avoid old instances still hogging server resources – and costing you money – and new instances being set up with too many resources.
With automated provisioning, you fully embrace Infrastructure as a Service. In fact, you can transition to Infrastructure as a Code, through which the provisioning of server resources is handled by lines in your deployment pipeline.
Automation in General
Of course, automation in general is a good thing to have if you are serious about optimizing your cloud costs. A lot of parts of cloud infrastructure management can be automated, including the deployment and deletion of server instances.
The same is true for using automation to detect anomalies. Instead of checking for server anomalies manually, you can set parameters for alerts. The next step is creating better resource usage forecasting, where automation turns to an early warning system that helps you save more in the long run.
The Right Storage
We cannot talk about optimizing the cost of using cloud infrastructure without talking about cloud storage. There are now more than five types of cloud storage buckets that you can use. Persistent volumes and storage buckets are the most common, but you also have options like the AWS S3 Glacier for specific applications like long-term object storage.
Using multiple storage options can reduce your cloud costs significantly. For comparison, AWS charges $0.00099 per GB for Deep Archive and $0.023 per GB for S3 Standard. That’s a significant difference in cost that will affect your bottom line in the long run.
Don’t Forget Licensing
A cost component that many cloud administrators often forget about is licensing cost. While many software and solutions for cloud infrastructure management are available for free and as open-source solutions, there are premium solutions that make your life as an administrator easier.
The cost of these premium solutions, when not managed properly, can get out of hand. Licensing of solutions that support the applications you run in the cloud must also be reviewed regularly. It might be a good idea to move from IaaS to PaaS if you are spending too much on licenses.
Last but certainly not least, make sure everyone managing the cloud infrastructure knows how to be cost-aware. Multiple cost awareness training resources are there to help with cloud cost optimization, and they are definitely worth investing in.
Some companies with extensive cloud infrastructure even go as far as building a culture of cost-efficiency. The cost of cloud resources becomes part of the metrics of success. For other companies, they are even considered KPIs and become part of the OKRs.
All of these tips are easy to implement. Some of them will result in immediate cost savings, while others help you save significantly on cloud costs in the long run. You still have the option to use the resources that you need to support complex applications. The more you can manage the costs of your cloud infrastructure, the more efficient your cloud infrastructure will be as well. With better efficiency comes better performance and improved business operations.