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10 ways to use cloud analytics to manage cloud usage and spend

Let’s face it; it’s tough to keep track of things in the cloud! The very nature of cloud ensures that it’s darn near impossible. It’s on-demand, elastic, and easily accessible to anyone with a credit card, making it a moving target - with a big price tag if not managed properly.   

It’s no wonder that managing cloud usage and spend has risen to the top three spot in a recent Forrester survey of enterprises adopting cloud. Other issues like security and reliability are basically solved problems now. And with more and more workloads moving to the cloud, managing those services – and their associated costs – is now getting some serious attention.   

Enter cloud analytics.   

Cloud analytics deliver real-time granular intelligence about your cloud, enabling you to see exactly who is using how much of which cloud services, and what it’s costing the business. With this intelligence at your fingertips, you’re not only in full control but you can hold all users accountable. When everyone knows in real time what is going on, decisions are much easier, enabling you to stay agile and competitive.   

Cloud is fundamentally shifting the technology buying process. In the past, the Chief Information Officer (CIO) or others in the IT function had primary responsibility for technology purchasing decisions. Today it is increasingly common for professionals outside of IT to call the shots – thanks in great part to the availability and ease of acquiring cloud technology services.   

A recent IDC study, sponsored by Cisco, found that business budgets in most developed economies across the world now fund nearly 70 per cent of all technology spending. But it’s not all about the budget shift. In Bain & Company’s survey of marketing, customer service, and supply chain professionals, line of business owners were found to be much more tech-savvy than ever before, driving them to shift “investments in labour and traditional services to tools and technology-enabled solutions.”   

What this means is that we now have a broad range of business stakeholders responsible for spinning up and consuming cloud services. And while this undoubtedly increases business agility and competitive advantage, it also begs the question: Who is minding the meter?   

With cloud services so easy to consume, costs can quickly spiral out of control with little to no visibility into who is consuming how much of what service...and why. In addition to the financial considerations, are the right kind of services being provisioned to ensure optimal performance and efficiency?    

These questions become even stickier to answer as services provisioning moves outside IT’s central command.   

 What can cloud analytics do for you? 

The key to effective cloud analytics is to evaluate from the perspective of the different stakeholders in your organisation. For example, what business context does IT finance require? What type of visualisations make your DevOps data speak? When defining budgets and forecasts, do your architects need technical or financial metrics – or both?    

Finally, keep your stakeholders aligned by proactively sharing the information they need to make better, faster, more insightful decisions.   

Here are ten ways that we at Cloud Cruiser, believe cloud analytics can support your organisation:   

1. Automate the collection and normalisation of data across multiple clouds   
2. Enrich technical data with key business and financial information   
3. Create relevant data visualisations to drive fact-based decisions   
4. Identify opportunities for cost reductions across cloud platforms   
5. Uncover underutilised or over utilised resources for better service optimisation   
6. Give a historical perspective of cloud usage and spending over time   
7. Control spending with budgets and alerts   
8. Forecast future usage and spend for more accurate planning   
9. Automate showback and chargeback to key stakeholders   
10. Empower fiscal responsibility with role-based drag-and-drop reporting 

Cloud data has the power to inform better decision making  

Cloud consumption is on the rise, with all signs pointing to more, more, more. According to Gartner, more than $1 trillion in compounded IT spending will be directly or indirectly affected by a shift in spending to cloud-based services from 2016 through 2020. It’s a technology disruption unlike anything we’ve seen in years and, like any major change, it will take a while for its full impact to be realised.   

One of the often-undervalued benefits of this new consumption-based IT model is the accessibility to granular usage and spending data. Aside from enabling governance and control of cloud spending, there is a wealth of knowledge to be gleaned from all of this rich data.   

With the right cloud analytics app, cloud data now has the power to inform decisions across a wide spectrum of IT consumers – from technical users like developers and architects to business users, such as line of business and finance execs.   

How to optimise apps, when to provision more services, which cloud provider costs more for which workload, and who is spending how much on what are just a few of the questions that can be answered with cloud analytics.    

With the vast majority of a business’ IT spend now going to the cloud, it’s imperative that all cloud stakeholders have this information at their fingertips.

Deirdre Mahon,CMO of Cloud Cruiser

Image Credit: Chaiyapop Bhumiwat / Shutterstock

Deirdre Mahon is CMO of Cloud Cruiser. She has more than two decades of experience spanning start-up, fast-growth, and large public organizations with a specific focus on building new market segments.