By now, cloud computing should be a familiar part of any enterprise. But as businesses' confidence with these solutions continues to grow, it can be easy to lose sight of some of the main reasons for switching to cloud models in the first place.
As firms continue to expand their cloud footprint, some of the key benefits, such as closer control of costs, simpler management and easy scalability can be lost as sprawling, multi-cloud environments take over. In fact, according to Rightscale's 2017 State of the Cloud Survey, businesses used an average of 1.8 public clouds and 2.3 private clouds last year, with 85 percent of firms having a multi-cloud strategy.
This could easily result in costs spiraling out of control. Indeed, 42 percent of professionals say keeping the cost of their cloud solutions in check is their number one IT operations priority. So what can businesses do to ensure their cloud deployments are able to operate as cost effectively as possible?
1. Ensure you've got full visibility
One common problem businesses may face when they're looking to evaluate cloud services from multiple providers is that invoices from different companies may not be easily comparable. This can mean you end up with a multi-cloud environment where you're not aware that one part of your solution could be costing more than necessary.
Therefore, take steps to ensure you can easily view and understand the different costs you incur. Cloud management tools can be one good way of doing this, as they can take much of the tedious manual labor out of this and replace it with automated tools that present everything in one place, in an easily readable format.
2. Track all your resource use
As well as looking at your headline costs, you need to understand exactly what every part of your cloud environment is doing, and if it is working efficiently. This means tracking all projects, departments and users to learn exactly where the origin of your costs are and if they are providing value.
This can help you identify resources that are not being used fully. For instance, you may find occasions where resources have been previously provisioned for a specific task, but have never been switched off after their job is complete, leaving businesses paying for capacity they are not using.
3. Automate where you can
Automation tools can do much more than help gather information about your costs. This technology can help keep control of your data, scale up infrastructure as and when you need it, identify and shut down resources that are being underutilized, and make backing up data simpler.
All this means IT pros have to focus less of their efforts on complex, resource-intensive activities that drain time and money away from areas that can add value to a business. Effective cloud automation helps create strong infrastructure, deploys quickly, and manages complex cloud environments at any scale.
4. Don't let sprawling services get out of hand
Once a business has committed to the idea of multi-cloud, it can become second nature to turn to new cloud tools for every challenge. But if 'multi-cloud' turns into 'any cloud', this leads to problems such as budget overruns, mission creep or integration difficulties, to name just a few.
Max Dufour, digital strategy partner at Harmeda, explains:
You cannot have an 'any cloud' model where 'multi' becomes 'too many'. You need to take a step back and assess at a high level what is the optimal multi-cloud model and be transparent on what users can get.
5. Don't give up control
If businesses are deploying multiple clouds and have adopted cloud management tools to streamline the running of them, it can be tempting to sit back and let their providers deal with things. But this would be a mistake. People outside the business won't have the level of in-depth knowledge to identify the best and most cost-effective strategy for utilizing cloud, even if they offer a cheaper option.
Instead, it's important businesses are able to rely on their own internal experts. Encourage your teams to take responsibility for directly checking and managing their own budgets and sound warnings if something doesn't look right. After all, no-one knows better than those directly involved what a particular deployment should involve.