For organizations that need to reduce costs or even close down (“hibernate”) their environments for a certain time – the cloud offers the advantage of “elasticity” when correctly architected. With legacy systems you cannot stop paying for a server which you amortized over 3 years. Compare this to cloud where products can be reduced, cancelled or even hibernated. In this article we provide advice on how to reduce Cloud costs and services.
What systems do you need to run?
On-line systems often need to be run 24/7 but other services such as Development or Test environments typically only need to be available during normal office hours. Reviewing systems and reducing their availability can substantially reduce running costs but remember to consider application deployment and environment maintenance windows.
Hibernation and Environment
In uncertain business conditions an organization may want to look for ways to substantially cut costs. When looking for potential time slots when hibernation options can be implemented. Typical scenarios include environments where there will be no activity for a certain period; a good example is a development environment which is not being utilized by staff. When opting for hibernation it is key to understand the costing of cloud compute and cloud storage. Environments will need to be backed up so they can “awaken” after hibernation and also need to be patched once back-up to ensure they are not vulnerable to any hackers / security breaches.
Reviewing Instance Sizing
Instance sizing should be part of any cost review, and resource monitoring can be set up to monitor memory and CPU. It is important to fully understand cloud instance / VM families and how they are optimized so the correct type is chosen. When scaling resources always consider doing this horizontally vs vertically since it often provides more flexibility.
Snapshot/Back Up Policies
Ensure there is an agreed organization / compliance policy for snapshot / back-up retention periods. Implementing a policy to reflect this in your Cloud environment will keep back-up costs under control. Check the terms and conditions for how these are costed since it can vary for each Cloud provider.
Reviewing unused products in a Cloud Environment
A regular analysis of Cloud Account billing should be undertaken so the costing hot spots can be understood and rectified quickly.
Setting up Cost Alerts and Budgets
“Cost Creep” does present a challenge for most organizations where several employees work on Environments. Developers / DevOps staff leaving instances / VM’s running when unused is commonplace.
Cost Alerts and budgets can be set so if costs exceed a certain $ or % alerts are sent. The key here is to ensure that alerts and responsibility to review costs are given to the right person and that they are empowered to act quickly if there is a severe cost overage.
Purchasing options for instance/VM usage
There are options to purchase instances at a reduced rate, provided a commitment is given to utilize a certain amount of computing hours. This should be carefully considered before that commitment is made and often will depend on the organizations particular business model and environment.
Cost Reviews/Hibernation Option reviews by third parties
Some organizations prefer to independently verify cost and hibernation options via third parties. These are typically done by means of a cost review and results in a report that provides cost reduction options that can either be implemented immediately or on an ongoing basis.
Third party tools can also be used to monitor cloud costs as well as provide more rudimentary cost reduction advise.