Cloud costs high? Declutter for better savings

By | 2 minute read | May 16, 2019

Every spring, my wife and I review our bills to see where we’re spending and then make adjustments. Decluttering our budget to align with our needs is a great way to find savings.

The same technique can be used by IT to declutter cloud environments and cloud costs because enterprises often have thousands of bills and cloud instances. First, take stock of what you have (visibility); next, identify what’s needed and what’s expendable (optimization); then design a longevity plan for your environment (cloud management). All of this helps sustain cloud governance for your organization.

That’s why I asked my team at IBM to streamline our cloud environment and cloud costs. We used the Pareto principle and focused on actions with the biggest impact.

Here are the steps we used to achieve cloud governance. Cloud cost and cloud optimization tools from qualified providers can help you do the same.

Step 1. Increase the visibility of cloud costs

You’ll need real-time visibility to assess total cloud usage across the enterprise and identify high-cost, low-use assets. AI and predictive analytics services can help you do this and provide additional insights and recommendations.

In our case, by analyzing our bills and usage APIs through data-driven, trained machine learning, our team found and terminated some expensive and underutilized servers, virtual machines and software subscriptions.

Now the system automatically highlights recommendations that are executed on a daily basis.

Step 2. Optimize asset management

Keep track of cloud spend and assets across hybrid and multicloud environments. That way you can view cost trends, asset locations, provider accounts and asset types that are driving spending. For our project, we took these steps:

  • Shut down older assets used for special projects and development and testing accounts if the owners didn’t reclaim them within 30 days.
  • Cleaned up elastic IPs, storage volumes, load balancers, network address translation (NAT) gateways and hosted zones.
  • Downgraded and recorded aged assets not running mission-critical workloads.
  • Recorded all storage assets older than a year and switched them to a lower availability storage class, while those over two years old were archived.

Step 3. Ongoing cloud management

Cloud governance is an ongoing effort because enterprise assets are constantly added. The right tools can help you optimize cloud investments and establish and maintain governance.

For example, during our project, we realized that some of the virtual machines we shut off were back on. We determined there were auto-scaling groups in a different geographic region that were triggering the machines, so we deleted the auto-scaling groups to stop the chain of events.

Within a couple of months, we decreased our cloud usage cost by more than 80%, while cutting out 35% of cloud assets resulting from 88 recommended actions. I guess we’re close enough to claim Pareto!

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