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Ways to control your cloud costs: #1 Automation

Due to the nature of our work at Devoteam, we see a lot of the real-life issues that organizations are struggling with when implementing cloud. Our mission is to deliver value to these organizations. So it is exactly these struggles that we help solve on a daily basis. The experience that we gain while doing that, and the ongoing research that we do on trends in the IT world, result in solid knowledge within our organization. We want to share that knowledge with you.

Cloud is gaining enormous momentum. Based on research that we did with IDC, its presence will only grow bigger in the coming years. Although cloud can be a cost-saver, we see it the other way around on multiple occasions. To help you with getting control of your cloud costs we defined 6 practical focus areas for you. This article goes into the first one: Automation.

Automation and its relationship with cloud computing

Automation is a fundamental building block for cloud computing. It aims to make all activities related to cloud computing as fast, efficient, and as hands-off as possible and is done through the use of various software automation tools, which are installed directly on the used platform or software and are controlled via an intuitive interface.

The tools that are used will help the administrator(s) to ensure that the system is performing optimally and all requests regarding deployment and allocation are fulfilled quickly and efficiently. This process is done through the use of virtual machine templates or clones, while the automation system does all the bulk of the setup and deployment.

How to control your cloud costs with automation in 4 ways

Within Automation we see the following ways to control your costs:

  1. Automate by standardization
  2. Efficiency with pipelines
  3. Meeting demands
  4. Optimize by sizing right

1. Automate by standardization

With the move to the cloud, many IT teams have adopted agile development methods. The IT teams needed to repeatedly deploy their solutions to the cloud, iterate quickly and know their infrastructure is in a reliable state. Teams need to manage infrastructure and application code through a unified process. To meet these challenges, the IT team can automate deployments and use the practice of infrastructure-as-a-code. In code, you define the infrastructure that needs to be deployed. The infrastructure code becomes part of your project. Just like application code, you store the infrastructure code in a source repository and version it. Anyone on your team can run the code and deploy similar environments.

To implement the infrastructure-as-a-code in the cloud, you can manually click through all the various needed resources and options, or you can use pre-populated or self-made templates. The templates are standardized and created for services or application architectures for the use of quick and reliable provisioning. All major cloud providers offer their own form of an infrastructure-as-code solution, typically by way of JSON or YAML-based templating solutions. These markup-based configuration files are often uploaded to a hosted service in the target cloud, where a hosted service will then process the files to create, update, or delete resources as necessary.

2. Efficiency with pipelines

A pipeline is a process that drives software development through a path of building, testing, and deploying code also known as Continuous Integration and Continuous Development (CI/CD). Click here to discover our view on CI/CD becoming a commodity. Tools that are included in the pipeline could include compiling code, unit tests, code analysis, security, and binaries creation. For containerized environments, this pipeline would also include packaging the code into a container image to be deployed across a hybrid cloud.

The objective is to minimize human error and maintain a consistent process for how software is released and gain efficiency. With pipelines, organizations allow IT organizations to reliably and efficiently build and deploy their applications of IT systems to their production environments. With the use of pipelines, the cloud-based delivery model offers speed and agility to the business.

3. Meeting demands

To meet demands, organizations subscribe to services to be available at their peak. But no environment is utilized at its fullest 100% of the time. So most of the time the hardware and software are idling and so is your money. To still meet the demands but also reduce costs, autoscaling can help.

Autoscaling can be done vertically and horizontally. Vertically means that you scale up (or down) the capacity of a resource. Horizontally means that you scale-out (or in) instances of a resource. For this, you have to understand (and forecast) your demand, perform tests to see if it is possible and implement a continuous capacity management process.

If done correctly, autoscaling allows for better fault tolerance, better availability, and better cost management, quickly scaling up and down to meet traffic demands while keeping your costs within budget by detecting and replacing the components that are not healthy enough to be present in the infrastructure.

4. Optimize by sizing right

Sizing the right resources is based on your actual usage data, but how much of your data should you look at? It is a process of defining the optimal cloud infrastructure best suited for the current and near-term needs of workloads in a way that balances risk and cost to minimize waste. Cloud resources are elastic, scalable, and provisioned on-demand and if these resources are sized right, costs are controlled and saved. Sizing your environment correctly, helps organizations to control (and lower) your costs and make changes to your infrastructure to match the workload as needed.

Optimization by sizing right means that, with insights on usage the IT organization is able to modify, upgrade or downgrade, existing cloud infrastructure to balance and meet the exact demand of the business. Public cloud allows you to rightsize a wide range of services before they incur the total monthly costs.

Conclusion: Automation as a means to control cloud costs

With automation as the fundamental building block for cloud computing, a very important part in controlling cloud IT costs is to be made. Automation can make cloud computing fast, efficient, and as hands-off as possible, and will have your IT employees do what they are hired to do.

When using standardized templates, and having a good process to rightsize the needed resources, the first steps are made towards automation. Autoscaling further allows scaling up and down – both vertical and horizontal – of needed resources. These subsolutions within automation help your IT administrators to ensure that performance is optimal.

Next to automation, we defined 5 more ways to optimize cloud costs. Click the button below the image to download our full report.