Despite the benefits of cloud, its on-demand disposition mean costs often end up uncontrolled, and the amount of wasted spend often goes underestimated.
RightScale, a multi-cloud management company, recently recently published its State of the Cloud Report for 2018 following a survey of 997 technical professionals across a broad cross-section of organizations. Respondents estimate 30 percent of their spend was waste, while RightScale itself measured actual waste at 35 percent.
In its subsequent white paper, it detailed several characteristics of cloud use that lead to such waste:
1. Complexity of cloud pricing options
While cloud pricing can seem simple on the surface — an hourly cost for a cloud instance or a cost per GB-month for storage — the reality is that there is a dizzying array of options to choose from. There are tens of thousands of prices just for virtual machines across the three leading cloud providers. Instances can have significant price differences based on the region they run in.
Older versions of instance families can be more expensive than their replacements. Even instances with similar amounts of CPU power and memory can vary greatly based on other add-on characteristics. Storage can be just as complicated with its many different tiers and classes. Choosing storage classes beyond what is needed can result in significantly higher costs.
2. Difficulty selecting the appropriate instance sizes
As engineers and IT staff build and deploy applications, they need to decide which instances and sizes to provision. In many cases they may be unfamiliar with the performance characteristics of the cloud instances or of the applications that they are deploying.
When migrating instances from on-premises infrastructure, they may not know what the equivalent instance sizes would be. They will often take a “better safe than sorry” approach and select a larger size. Once the infrastructure is over-provisioned, it rarely gets downsized.
3. Resource owners don’t have full visibility into cost implications
At the time of provisioning in the cloud, resource owners often have little to no visibility into what their applications will cost in the cloud. The hourly cost of cloud instances can seem low, so they may not understand the full impact when they run instances for weeks, months, or years.
This limited visibility into costs can also be exacerbated during agile development processes when teams are automatically provisioning and tearing down deployments for development and QA. If templates or automated scripts are used, instances can be repeatedly over-provisioned, which means a continual recurrence of wasted costs. And once applications are running, resource owners may not receive reporting that enables them to see the cost implications of this over-provisioning.
4. Lack of automation to optimize workloads
Optimization is an ongoing challenge in the enterprise. Even after waste is identified and resolved, the dynamic nature of cloud use means that waste reoccurs. Automation is critical to dynamically monitor and respond to waste.
For cloud governance teams to ensure cost-efficient cloud use, they need automated tools that work across all of their cloud resource pools. They need to identify specific areas of waste and collaborate with resource owners to take automated action to reduce waste.