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7 Cloud Cost Optimisation Best Practices

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1  Find unused or unattached resources

The easiest way to optimise cloud costs is to look for unused or unattached resources. Often an administrator or developer might “spin up” a temporary server to perform a function and forget to turn it off when the job is done. In another common use case, the administrator may forget to remove storage attached to instances they terminate. This happens frequently in IT departments across the company. The result is that an organization’s AWS bills and Azure bills will include charges for resources they once purchased, but are no longer using. A cloud cost optimsation strategy should start by identifying unused and completely unattached resources and removing them.

2  Identify and consolidate idle resources

The next step in optimizing cloud computing costs is to address idle resources. An idle computing instance might have a CPU utilisation level of 1-5%. When an enterprise is billed for 100% of that computing instance, it is a significant waste. A key cloud cost optimisation strategy would be to identify such instances and consolidate computing jobs onto fewer instances. In the days of data centres, administrators often wanted to operate at low utilisation so they would have headroom for a spike in traffic or a busy season. It’s difficult, expensive and inefficient to add new resources to the data centre. Instead, the cloud offers autoscaling, load balancing, and on-demand capabilities that allow you to scale up your computing power at any time.

3  Utilise heatmaps

Heatmaps are important mechanisms for cloud cost optimisation. A heatmap is a visual tool showing peaks and valleys in computing demand. This information can be valuable in establishing start and stop times to reduce costs. For example, heatmaps can indicate whether development servers can be safely shut down on weekends. While this could be done manually, a better option is to leverage automation to schedule instances to start and stop, optimizing costs.

4  Right-size computing services

Right-sizing is the process of analyzing computing services and modifying them to the most efficient size. It can be difficult to size correctly when cloud administrators have more than 1.7 million possible combinations to choose from. In addition to server sizes, there are options for servers optimized for memory, database, computing, graphics, storage capacity, throughput, and more. Right-sizing tools can also recommend changes across instance families if necessary. Right-sizing does more than simply reducing cloud costs, it also helps with cloud optimsation, which means achieving peak performance from the resources you're paying for.

5  Invest in AWS reserved instances (RIs) or Azure reserved VM instances (RIs)

Enterprises committed to the cloud for the long term should invest in reserved instances (RIs). These are larger discounts based on upfront payment and time commitment. RI savings can reach up to 75%, so this is a must for cloud cost optimisation. Since RIs can be purchased for one or three years, it is important to analyse your past usage and properly prepare for the future.

6  Take advantage of spot instances

Spot Instances are very different than RIs, but they can help you save more on your AWS or Axure spend. Spot Instances are available for auction and, if the price is right, can be purchased for immediate use. However, opportunities to buy Spot Instances can go away quickly. That means they are best suited for particular computing cases like batch jobs and jobs that can be terminated quickly. Jobs like this are common in large organizations, so Spot Instances should be part of all cloud cost optimisation strategies.

7  Consider multi-cloud vs single-cloud

Some enterprises deliberately seek out multi-cloud to avoid vendor lock-in. While this is a valid strategy for increasing availability and uptime, these organisations may risk losing potential volume discounts by a single cloud vendor. For example, if a company spends £500,000 on AWS + £300,000 on Azure + £200,000 on Google Cloud Platform, they could miss out on reaching a £1 million tier with one vendor. The value of that £1 million tier may be substantial discounts on overall cloud spend, as well as preferred status with that particular vendor. Plus, the ability to save money with a multi-cloud strategy could be outweighed by the administrative hassles of switching between platforms, paying for network traffic between clouds, and training staff on multiple clouds.

Conclusion

The cloud holds great potential. The promise of saving money using the cloud can be achieved, as long as attention is paid to cloud cost optimisation.

Next Steps

Implementing a multi-cloud strategy doesn’t have to be complicated. With comprehensive cloud management from a provider such as CloudCheckr, you can easily switch between multiple cloud environments in one dashboard. More than 550+ Best Practice Checks for security, compliance and cost management will help optimise your workloads and alert you of any vulnerabilities.

Ask us to put you in touch with a Cloud Community cost optimisation specialist who'll offer you a 30-minute demonstration of CloudCheckr, and/or take a free trial for 14 days.

Author:  Todd Bernhard

Todd Bernhard is a Product Marketing Director at CloudCheckr. He has earned his AWS Solutions Architect Associate, AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner, Microsoft Azure Fundamentals, and Google Cloud G-Suite certifications. He has been administering, teaching and developing Unix systems since 1984 including 16 years at Sun Microsystems, now part of Oracle. In 2010, Todd founded the award-winning app development firm NoTie.com.

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