Conversations about cloud cost optimization tend to focus on how to reduce spending on workloads that are already in the cloud — which is useful because it's common for businesses to discover that their cloud configurations don't yield the best balance between cost and performance.
But you shouldn't wait until you've already deployed resources into the cloud to begin controlling cost. Cloud cost management should begin during the cloud migration process. If you don't begin minimizing costs during migration, you'll probably struggle to reduce spending once your workloads are in the cloud.
- Abandon Unnecessary Data
- Consolidate Workloads
- Assess Software Licenses
- Consider a Hybrid Cloud
- Modify Your IT Operations Strategy
1. Abandon Unnecessary Data
If you're moving data into the cloud, there's a decent chance that not every part of every data asset that you own needs to be retained. You can likely abandon some data, such as archival information that you no longer need to retain or duplicate data, which you can pare down to a single copy.
Identifying and removing data that you no longer need will speed your cloud migration because it reduces the amount of data you have to move. It will also lower your overall cloud costs by ensuring you don't pay to store data that you don't need.
2. Consolidate Workloads
Along similar lines, you may be able to consolidate some workloads by merging them together during the cloud migration process. For example, you might have multiple on-premises servers that you can merge into a single VM running in the cloud. In general, the cost of a single cloud VM capable of hosting both workloads will be lower than running each workload on separate VMs, even if the separate VMs cost less individually than the more powerful shared VM.
Thus, workload consolidation is another key way to save money during cloud migration by reducing the amount of infrastructure that you need to host your workloads.
3. Assess Software Licenses
Migrating to the cloud is an excellent time to review the software licenses your business pays for and abandon those that you don't need. This is particularly true because once you are in the cloud, you may be able to take advantage of your cloud provider's tools and services for tasks like monitoring and security to replace the third-party solutions you used previously.
Cloud providers' solutions typically come with a cost, too, and their features are not always as extensive as those of third-party tools. So, you shouldn't always default to tools supplied by your cloud provider. But you should certainly consider adopting these tools during cloud migration where they make sense and canceling other tool licenses.
Doing so is likely to reduce your overall cloud bill, while also simplifying your procurement and license management processes (because you'll have fewer vendors and licenses to work with).
4. Consider a Hybrid Cloud
As you plan a cloud migration, keep in mind that not every resource needs to move into the public cloud. There may be advantages from a cost perspective and other areas to adopting a hybrid cloud instead.
In a hybrid cloud, some of your workloads remain on-prem while others reside on public cloud infrastructure, and you manage them all through a single control plane. This approach can be especially cost-effective if you already have an extensive on-prem infrastructure and you don't want to abandon the investment you've made in it. A hybrid architecture allows you to continue reaping returns on your on-prem infrastructure while also taking advantage of the public cloud.
5. Modify Your IT Operations Strategy
When you migrate to the cloud, your IT operations needs usually change fundamentally. You no longer have to manage physical infrastructure, although you may need to adopt more sophisticated practices when it comes to virtual infrastructure automation and management in order to take full advantage of the cloud.
For these reasons, cloud migration should include an assessment of your IT operations strategy and needs. You may find that you can outsource more tasks, for example — or not, depending on your specific needs and the expertise of your existing ITOps team.
Either way, it's important to assess your requirements so that you don't waste money on ITOps processes and services that you don't need as you move to the cloud.
Even if you plan perfectly to reduce costs during cloud migration, it's likely that there will be further opportunities to improve cloud spending once your workloads are in the cloud. Few organizations strike the perfect balance between cloud cost and performance during their initial move to the cloud.
But that doesn't mean you shouldn't try. By looking for opportunities to reduce spending the moment you begin moving to the cloud, you position your business to achieve the greatest possible cloud outcomes at the lowest possible cost in the long run.
About the authorChristopher Tozzi is a technology analyst with subject matter expertise in cloud computing, application development, open source software, virtualization, containers and more. He also lectures at a major university in the Albany, New York, area. His book, “For Fun and Profit: A History of the Free and Open Source Software Revolution,” was published by MIT Press.