Cloud computing is widely considered to be the ultimate business tool. Its business uses vary from storage and computing power, to enabling remote desktop for a user away from the office, but it is undoubtedly a powerful business tool.
The advances in the Internet of Things (IoT) and the cloud infrastructure are also creating a future proof business tool that will collaborate with parts of everyday life. It all sounds really cool and futuristic until you start to add up the costs.
Before going on to say how you can control cloud computing costs, it’s important to consider why they are ‘out-of-control’ in the first place. On the billing FAQ page for Amazon Web Services (AWS), they put unexpected costs down to misunderstanding or resource configuration issues.
They’re probably not wrong. Misunderstanding is an easy way to lose control. Misunderstanding can easily stem from miscommunication between the user spinning up the cloud computing servers and the finance person who actually has to pay the invoice.
So if it is all down to a ‘simple misunderstanding’ as Amazon puts it, what is the answer to keeping cloud computing costs under control?
Tracking and Monitoring Usage
If bills are higher than you expected or budgeted for, you need to get to the root of the problem. Gain some control by tracking and monitoring the usage of the different servers you are running. For Amazon’s EC2 servers, you can get usage reports so you can see what’s going on for the individual instances and how they’re being used.
By monitoring this information, you can gain visibility on where the cloud computing budget is being spent and then start to think about how the company can be more efficient in provisioning servers. Maybe there are even extra servers that were never included in the original budget but have been provisioned since!
Terminating or Scaling Down Under-Utilised Servers
As part of your monitoring, you might find there are some servers that are being under-utilised. Perhaps you have a large computing server that isn’t being utilised and could be replaced by a smaller server or even terminated if the need isn’t there any more.
You can usually terminate or scale down a server through the server provider control panel or console and once the server is terminated, the charges for that server should be stopped.
It’s actually quite common for a business to spin up a new server for a project or the development of an app and when the project is finished, the server is still left on, running in the background and costing you money. These need to be controlled and shut down to reduce the costs of cloud computing.
Determine how many servers you need
There are some cases where you are running over or too close to budget on servers but all of the servers are in use to some extent. In this case, communication with the development/IT team or users is needed. They will be able to give you a better idea of what servers are being used for and how they can be optimised for better control and cost savings.
This might mean shutting down a couple of servers and replacing them with one server that can run everything. It will depend on what the different servers are being used for but it’s possible that scaling up for efficiency or down if servers are under-utilised can save some money.
Cloud Computing Management Tools
Another way to take more control over your cloud computing costs is cloud management tools. There is a good chance you’ve come across this if you’ve looked for cost saving options online.
Cloud Computing Management Tools can offer different features from monitoring usage to scheduling servers to switch off when they they’re not needed. Both of these aspects can help control the costs of the different servers.
It’s important to consider how these tools scale with your business and the costs involved. There is no point paying more for the tool than you would get in savings.
It’s also important not to underestimate the total cost of cloud computing and unfortunately it’s not as simple as just saying; ‘we need this, let’s spin up three large servers’. There are considerations that need to be taken into account in order to budget, for example; regions, server type (compute, storage, memory etc.), platform (Windows, Linux, SQL – the server price can change based on this) and what sort of price packages you go for.
As Amazon states in their FAQs, simple misunderstanding can lead to unexpected bills and in turn this leads to a loss of control of cloud computing budgeting and finance.
Cloud Machine Manager (CMM) is a cloud management tool that could save you as much as 90% on your Amazon EC2 costs. Through server scheduling, servers switching off based on usage and an instant on/off switch, cost control can be regained. See how much you can save with our savings estimator.