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Cloud Management and Optimization: How to Do it Right

|September 30, 2019|

If you’re anything like our customers, you’re running the majority of your business on the cloud. After headcount, it’s not uncommon that your cloud bill is one of your highest business expenses. So, it’s important to make sure you are getting maximum returns on that investment. 

Done right, cloud computing offers major financial and operational benefits for companies. However, it can also introduce complexity and cost that, if not reined in properly, can endanger the health of the business.

This is why you will increasingly hear people talking about “cloud management” and “cloud optimization.” Managing and optimizing your cloud is the path toward ensuring efficiency and ultimately guaranteeing that your cloud investment provides maximum value and bolsters your bottom line. 

What is Cloud Management and Optimization?

Cloud management means managing cloud computing products and services—commonly in public clouds like AWS, Google Cloud, or Microsoft Azure. While the public clouds themselves are managed by these providers, it is up to individual companies or organizations that use their services to manage their own cloud computing resources and utilization.

Similarly, cloud optimization refers to selecting and assigning appropriate resources to appropriate workloads or applications. Because of the cloud’s ability to infinitely scale up and down, organizations are not automatically pressured to use the cloud in the most efficient way (as they would be with legacy/on-prem solutions). Instead, companies need to proactively optimize their usage in order to ensure they are not wasting resources in the cloud. 

Get the Full Picture

It’s impossible to optimize your cloud if you can’t see what is going on. So the first step to cloud management and optimization is to get the full picture of what your company is using and how. 

First, it’s important to start collecting your cost and usage data in a way that is easy to query and track over time. Luckily AWS makes this easy with their cost and usage reporting which you can easily turn on and use tools like AWS Athena to query and explore.

Next, gather context. There is a lot of data coming out of your cloud. With AWS, for example, telemetry streams out of sources like CloudWatch and CloudTrail. These all provide context as to what’s happening in the system. That’s all well and good, but your team needs to ensure they’re collecting this context to get the full picture on your cloud. 

Finally, you need to ensure you have full visibility into your cloud costs.  Cloud cost blindness can cripple a fast-growing business. 

The challenge here is that getting visibility into cloud costs is not as simple as looking at a receipt, particularly because engineers and DevOps teams need to know how their everyday decisions will impact cost before they push things out into production. If you are using AWS, a good place to start is decoding your AWS bill. AWS costs should never be a surprise.

Understand Your Goals

Once you have better visibility into what’s going on in your cloud, it’s time to evaluate whether your current cloud utilization supports your organization’s goals in the most optimal way possible. For most organizations, this means ensuring the cloud spend is directly correlated to value (read: revenue). 

One of the simplest ways to do this is to understand your unit cost and tie it as closely to your cloud costs as possible. We have written about this in great detail in our eBook, A Practical Guide to Cloud Cost Management. While it’s easy to focus on the price tag of your cloud bill, it’s a better idea to ask yourself what the value of your cloud is, since this is what actually matters to your business’s success.

Where to Start with Cloud Management and Optimization

Not sure where to start when it comes to cloud management and optimization? 

On the cost front, here are five cloud cost mistakes we see often in AWS environments. You can use this as a checklist to pick off low-hanging fruit and optimize costs right away. This is a great first step on your cloud management and optimization journey.

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