Cost Optimizations: It’s Time to Rethink your Cloud Architecture

Posted in: Technical Track

Cloud technology brings a lot of flexibility, agility, and resilience to your business. Your ability to adjust to the demands on your business matters more than ever in the COVID-19 world, a world where we’re forced to adapt to the “new normal,” and forced to figure out what exactly that means.

It’s become extremely important to use your cloud resources wisely. This not only helps you save money, but it helps your business to operate in the most efficient and effective manner possible. For most companies, this cloud OpEx model is still a new discovery in their cloud journey. Getting it right could be a significant success differentiator between your business and the competition.

Cost optimization is a continuous process that evolves as you build your solutions. It starts with the initial architecture and continues throughout the entire solution lifecycle. Getting the architecture right will save you a lot of effort and money down the road. Having said that, you should regularly review your architectural approach and selection of services to adapt to business changes.

A fully cost-optimized system optimizes cloud resources without sacrificing performance and efficiency. When it comes to cost optimization, you can use several tools and techniques. The information below lists some of the core principles that you can apply to any cloud solution.

Cost-Effective Resources

Using the right services as part of your architecture is the key to cost savings. You can achieve this by making the correct design decisions for your architecture. Here are some of the top considerations you need to address.

  • Managed services: Use managed services where possible to reduce IT infrastructure operating costs. Let the cloud do the undifferentiated heavy lifting for you so that you can focus on the business priorities that matter.
  • Server-less architecture and design: Use server-less services such as Cloud function or AWS Lambda (even driven design or FaaS) and only pay for the function execution time.
  • On-demand/reserved/spot pricing: Optimize your workloads by taking advantage of reserved and spot pricing. If you have VM-related workloads, this can lead to significant cost savings.
  • Right-sizing: Right-size the infrastructure through performance or load testing.
  • Optimized geographic selection: Deploy solutions in appropriate geographical locations to improve performance through reduced latency. Use regional caching through CDNs to further improve the performance. Both of these techniques reduce cross-region data transfer costs.
  • Elasticity on demand: Configure your loads to scale-out or scale-in automatically based on real-time traffic demands, with specific minimum/maximum thresholds.
  • Resource cleanup automation: Often, your development teams will spin-up resources which they can sometimes forget to shut down. You can automate the cleanup of your resources using a simple script.
  • Storage costs: Optimize storage costs by selecting the right kind of storage and setting the optimal data lifecycle policies.

Cost Governance and Visibility

Cost optimization demands visibility into cloud expenditures, which will in turn enable you to find opportunities for future savings. Cloud vendors provide the ability to tag resources and generate reports. They also provide tools for monitoring, analyzing, planning, and notifying. Here are some considerations for cost governance:

  • Analyze the daily/monthly spend through dashboards and reports.
  • Ability to separate the cost per business unit through resource tagging.
  • Identify the most expensive services and take action to optimize them.
  • Estimate future costs based on usage patterns.
  • Setup notification alerts with specific budget thresholds.

Continuous Optimization

There are two different ways you can achieve continuous optimization for your solution.

  • Tune existing workloads: You can optimize existing workloads by continuously monitoring utilization gaps and upsizing or downsizing them based on need. This also involves setting system-specific efficiency goals and utilization KPIs and continuously monitoring them. These can vary from system to system, and need to be tuned so that business output is not affected.
  • Refresh and refactor: Take advantage of new optimized, efficient, and cost-effective managed services released by cloud vendors. Perform cost analysis and refactor your architecture to phase out non-managed/legacy services. For example, you might be running your database on VM’s, but it might be more efficient to leverage one of the fully managed services for your application. Although this is a non-trivial change, this could provide a significant performance boost and overall cost savings in the long run. This also ensures that your architecture is current and optimized for the cloud.

This is by no means an exhaustive list but does accurately describe some of the ways that you can start thinking about cost optimizations for your cloud spend. The approach you take would depend on your specific business needs and short/long terms goals.

At Pythian, we are extremely passionate about building scalable, resilient, and optimized systems to meet your business needs. As the world continues to deal with COVID-19, we are here to help your business adapt. Whether you are planning a new solution in the cloud or have an existing solution that need optimization, we can help.

If you have any questions or would like a chat, please reach out to us. And stay safe.

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