Careful planning and coordination are always key to effective budget management and cost control. Your cloud implementation budget is no exception. While this is common sense, many organizations incur unnecessary expenses early in their cloud journey. These five specific steps will help you avoid potential pitfalls when taking control of your cloud budget.
- Identify your stakeholders and make sure everyone is on the same page.
Cloud computing touches many functions throughout a company, and each has its own goal. If left to focus on individual requirements – customer relationship management, marketing automation, compute resources for research and development, human resources and recruiting, etc. – duplicated efforts and waste are inevitable. And IT is often brought in after the fact to integrate these various requirements with its own efforts to manage basic organizational computing systems.
The most effective method to gain control over cloud spending is to create harmony, standards, and transparency between executive strategies and business or functional units. With stakeholders being so varied and their needs functionally specific, coordination requires strong executive leadership, clear communications and organizational buy-in.
- Set your strategy… and implement it.
The biggest mistake organizations can make regarding cloud spend is to not have a strategy or to not implement components of a chosen strategy. Without a strategy, the amount of waste and duplication is vastly increased. And without a controlled implementation of that strategy, the foundation of your cloud strategy may be flawed. Your organization will likely invest in too many cloud platforms or in the wrong platforms, and then pay additional costs later to unify them.
- Plan and schedule your cloud migrations.
The best way to lower cloud spend waste is to carefully plan migrations so that identical systems are not running on-premises and in the cloud simultaneously. Of course, a certain amount of redundancy is necessary to ensure a clean transition, but avoid unnecessary duplication to the extent possible.
Migrations should also be scheduled deliberately to optimize contracts. If the level of effort or complexity of the migration does not permit this, negotiate to extend legacy contracts for only the period of time needed to complete the migration rather than a full contract window. For existing legacy contracts that run for some time, start as early as possible to plan the migration and start with some margin before the legacy contracts are about to expire. It’s cheaper and less stressful to have the cloud contract start a bit early knowing that everything works rather than needing an emergency extension of a legacy contract if something doesn’t work. Removing your technical debt in this way makes your solutions more cost-efficient once they make their permanent home in the cloud.
- Explore and employ tools offered by CSPs and third parties.
Cloud spend can be reduced greatly by using the various tools from cloud service providers (CSPs) to view resource usage down to a very granular level. Use the insights these tools provide to analyze usage trends, better understand where costs are coming from, and make cost saving changes to your environment.
A plethora of third party tools are also available to get a better view into cloud costs. Many of these provide suggestions, or even implement automation, to assist in cost savings. Additionally, organizations with larger cloud budgets can benefit by hiring a cloud consulting firm to optimize their cloud environment for cost and usage efficiencies. While a smaller organization might be able to handle this on their own economically, consultants in medium to large organizations bring in a fresh perspective, are not distracted by day-to-day operations, and can easily justify their costs by the savings achieved.
- Control access and monitor usage.
Lay the identity and access foundations early in your cloud migration process so that access to your data and resource usage is fully controlled. In fact, this is so fundamental that you should always start here first and foremost. This will obviously save costs, but the security and simplicity benefits of proper identity and access for your cloud environment cannot be overstated either.
Also, you must monitor activity to understand trends and optimize use. Don’t underestimate the value of tagging and logging as without these you cannot track trends and usage accurately. Tagging is simply attaching a label to each resource, allowing for easy identification and categorization. Logging enables a richer and more granular view into the cloud environment and, together with tagging, helps you identify resources that need to be optimized to reduce costs.
For all these steps, transparency remains key.
A centralized approach to the development and implementation of your cloud strategy, with defined standards and transparency throughout the organization, will lead to a good foundation with less duplication and better cost tracking. An early investment in developing organizational buy-in and commitment to ongoing transparency will help you manage costs not just through your initial cloud migration, but with each new budget cycle.