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Controlling cloud infrastructure costs: Tips & tricks

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(Image credit: Shutterstock / vs148)

Computing costs, as computing itself, should’ve always been predictable. But in reality, cloud infrastructure costs can easily get out of control. There are many reasons for that to happen.

Fortunately, you can learn to control those by implementing a smart cloud cost management strategy. In this article, I'll share with you some insights and tips on how to manage expenditures on infrastructure maintenance.

5 ways to design a perfect cloud cost management strategy

There are a lot of cloud cost control practices that organizations can apply to manage costs. Here are the top 5 of those that will help you save your resources. Let’s take a look at each of them.

Cloud inventory visibility

One of the main reasons for the unexpected rise in cloud costs is the low visibility of cloud resources. Check your infrastructure from scratch. If some resources aren’t used, but you are still charged for them, stop instances when they’re not used. Or you organize your idle resources into actionable workflows, such as termination or archiving.

You can also use your provider's tools such as Google Cloud Monitoring, Azure Monitoring, or Amazon CloudWatch. Based on the data you’ll gather, you can then scale instance sizes, estimate workloads, and get alerts to track unused resources. This surely will help you control your spending.

Clear cost management policies

There can be a lot of people within your organization who may use the cloud very differently. That’s why when it comes to the cloud you need to figure out who is responsible for what. You want to know who, how, and by what rules use your cloud infrastructure.

Implementing certain guidelines will lay out responsibilities and define the rights of users in controlling and changing the infrastructure. These rules can and should be automated.

Define principles and write down the processes by which you work with the infrastructure, change and optimize it, and control costs. It’s crucial that all teams are involved in the processes and understand who is in charge of which part of the development cycle.

Cost-saving infrastructure changes

If you are not very happy with the bills you receive from your provider, try other approaches. Consider serverless architecture.

It’s a type of model in which your provider takes responsibility for servers running along with computing resources management. In this case, your organization will be charged only for the resources you actually use. The company will be charged only for the serverless function execution time.

The infrastructure scales up and down automatically so you don’t need to reserve and pay for fixed bandwidth or a number of servers. Your organization will have as much computing power as it requires. The serverless architecture provides organizations with reduced operations time and lowers costs. It allows you to avoid server operating costs such as image processing, presence detection, or access authorization.

Any leading Cloud provider offers serverless these days: AWS Lambda, Google Cloud Functions, Microsoft Azure Functions.

The only downside of all of this is that you don’t have full control over server hardware and runtime updates.

Another approach for you to try is networking.

It’s the foundation of a well-crafted infrastructure because users constantly need to be connected and transfer data. With the constant movement of data, organizations face additional network costs.

In many cases, organizations often overlook network costs. When traffic spikes occur, there is a significant increase in cloud expenses. This jump is the cost of outbound data transfer.

Keep an eye on what goes in and out of the cloud platform with such tools as Data Flow Diagrams. 

Discounts

Providers offer many programs with discount options that can help optimize your costs. Google, Microsoft, and AWS have discount programs that decrease the basic cost of compute instances. In return they expect you to commit to buying a certain level of resources in the future or acceptance of availability limitations.

Large-scale enterprises can also search for some programs to drive more substantial savings. Be sure to check out: AWS Enterprise Agreements, Microsoft Azure Enterprise Agreements, and Google Cloud For Enterprise Organizations.

Providers also offer free credit programs to startups in order to meet their specific requirements. These are AWS Activate, Azure Free Accounts, and Google Cloud for startups.

Major cloud providers also offer free trials for various individual services, so you can test the platform's capabilities before purchasing a license. This will give you an idea of how the services work.

Notifications and alerts

Simple here. It let you track reports of authorization failures, cost surges, budget overruns, etc. This provides timely information about current problems with your cloud expenses so you can quickly address them. All leading providers offer cloud optimization tools for alerts and notifications.

Conclusion

The key drivers of cloud cost overruns are inefficiencies in the cloud strategy or its absence. It’s crucial to have an effective strategy that will guide your organization in the cloud cost monitoring and optimization process.

In this article, we have listed the most popular strategies. If you're only starting your journey, keep in mind that these costs can sometimes be challenging to evaluate due to the complexity of the cloud infrastructure. So it’s always a good idea to meet with experts that can help you create an effective cloud-cost strategy that will bring benefits to your business.

Yurii Vysotskyi, Senior Support and Maintenance Engineer, Sigma Software Group

Yurii Vysotskyi is a Senior Support and Maintenance Engineer at Sigma Software Group.