Much of the conversation about the costs of cloud cost centers on how to minimize spend on cloud services themselves. There are plenty of articles out there on reducing cloud storage costs, minimizing egress fees, and so on.
Here’s another facet of the costs of cloud computing that is easy to overlook: administration costs. The more time and effort your team spends setting up and managing its cloud environment, the more you’ll pay. The costs of cloud computing at play here aren’t direct costs associated with cloud services themselves, but rather the overhead required to administer those cloud services.
What Is Cloud Administration?
Cloud administration refers to the broad set of tasks and responsibilities necessary to build and manage a cloud environment. It includes work like launching and provisioning virtual machine instances, writing IAM configurations, and creating and responding to cloud monitoring alarms ( to name just a handful of examples).
Strategies for Reducing Cloud Administration Costs
You can’t eliminate cloud administration tasks. But you can minimize the time and effort required to perform them. In turn, you can minimize the overall costs of cloud computing.
Here’s a look at ways to reduce cloud administration overhead.
Autoscale, autoscale, autoscale
One big time-sink (and, by extension, cost-sink) for cloud administrators is adjusting workload provisions as demand fluctuates. Having to update CPU, memory, storage and other allocations manually is hugely wasteful.
You can mitigate this waste by using autoscaling policies to adjust allocations automatically.
Chances are that you are already using autoscaling, at least with some of your workloads, but you may not be taking full advantage of autoscaling to manage every workload.
There may also be an opportunity to take greater advantage of predictive autoscaling, which goes a step beyond conventional autoscaling by using AI to predict scaling needs ahead of time. Traditional autoscaling rules are based on manual planning and may be less efficient.
You probably also take advantage of tools in categories like infrastructure-as-code, which automates cloud environment setup. IaC tools let admins write configuration policies that define how cloud resources should be configured. The tools then apply the configurations automatically.
But, today, IaC is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to what you can automate using a code-based approach. We’re living in the age of everything-as-code. If you’re not using policy-based automation to manage all aspects of your cloud workflows--such as application delivery pipelines and access control management--you’re missing out on an opportunity to minimize cloud administration costs.
Simplify your cloud
Simplifying your cloud architecture can also go a long way toward reducing administration spend. The more cloud services you use--and the more clouds you use--the more time-consuming it will be to manage all of them. Even if you make good use of automation tooling, setting up and managing the automations requires significantly more effort when you have more services and clouds to automate.
Toward that end, it’s worth assessing whether your cloud is overly complex, and whether the advantages you gain from your current architecture outweigh the administrative costs that come with them. A hybrid cloud or multi-cloud model may offer opportunities for saving on cloud services, but the cost of administering such an environment may be higher than what you save from being able to spread workloads around.
Consider outsourcing cloud management
Depending on the skill level of your team, it may make sense from a cost perspective to outsource some cloud administration tasks. Various firms--including large enterprises like IBM and Deloitte, as well as smaller service providers--offer managed cloud services to help set up and administer cloud workloads. Some are attached to specific cloud platforms, and others will work with you to manage any cloud.
Outsourcing cloud management could be more cost-effective than hiring cloud admins to your own staff, especially if your cloud administration needs are modest.
If you don’t want to outsource your cloud management wholesale, you could hire a service provider to manage certain aspects of it, such as security auditing.
Conclusion: Don’t Overpay for Cloud Administration
The costs of cloud computing management can add up--sometimes to much more than the cost of the cloud services you actually consume. Be sure to think strategically about how you administer your cloud, and take advantage of tools and services that streamline administrative tasks.