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Getting the most out of your cloud investment

image of Elliot Daly Elliot Daly
Elliot Daly 12 Mar 2020 Time to read: 

IT Leaders have it tough! Have you ever seen a cloud services billing and activity report from AWS, Azure or Google Cloud?  If it’s for your company’s Platform as a Service (PaaS) or Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) billing, reports for a large organisation can build up into an impressive tome. Perfect for insomnia but, the devil always in the detail. So, is there a lurking danger of over-paying for the services you are receiving?

In many commercial sectors, with seasonal swings, new competitors and new digital offerings, cloud service demands can spike and fall. Recognising value for money with cloud-based services within your sector is complex and it requires constant monitoring, smart forward planning and firm management of your cloud providers.

Cloud – huh! What is it good for?

Traditionally, for most large enterprises, “Cloud” has been used for email services and other self-contained Software as a Service (SaaS) applications, such as Salesforce or Dynamics. Over the last few years Peru have also seen a steady rise of digital transformation efforts and with it a focus on DevOps ways of working driving the use of cloud in handling CI/CD models, increased automation, containerised apps and microservice architectures. These “new” approaches have an increasing need for more robust security, resilience and elastic type services where large amounts of resources are needed for relatively short periods of time. This is particularly true of retail organisations dealing with Black Friday type rushes but are seeing similar requirements for health organisations (for research purposes) and legal firms (in multi-jurisdiction litigation) and needing a significant increase in processing, storage, data and sales management capacity.

Another trend we see is in who is procuring cloud services; you may think that this remains the preserve of IT departments the world over but Peru have seen this become less the norm as business and operational teams (Sales, Marketing, Finance and HR) become more aware of cloud SaaS services and have the budget and autonomy to select and use services as they see fit. The problem with this, from an IT perspective is the increase in complexity of the estate and the ongoing cost of maintaining what are generally tactical solutions. Over the last 12 months undertaking application rationalisation projects, we see hundreds of procured applications with their own processes, data siloes and duplicated capabilities which IT departments are being asked to look after with the same number of resources and budgets.

More importantly, ensuring value for money from your multiple cloud providers is a major challenge, are you really seeing the promised higher value at a lower cost? How can your business ensure that it’s driving out cost in the long term not adding to it?

Costly cloud

As far as the cloud providers are concerned, the cloud is being managed cost-effectively.  Well they would say that wouldn’t they, given that they have their margins covered. So, you can’t really expect them to be losing sleep worrying about how much you are spending on their SaaS, PaaS and IaaS services.

Let’s take Cloud security as an example of cost management. Exactly what level of protection do you need now, and what could you need in a years’ time? Taking default or cheaper options could destabilise business operations. So, expert support at this stage may be required to accurately assess and plan network security, resilient architectures, back-up and disaster recovery (DR), encryption services and flow-logging? It may be short term pain, but the long-term cost gain could be significant.

No room for cloudy management

Let’s be honest, using Cloud-based services and solutions does add to the complexity of your IT estate to some degree and won’t make it any easier to manage.  But cloud delivers the agility and flexibility of service that suits the dynamics of most businesses.

Handling a blended or hybrid Cloud environment will throw-up a variety of complications and intricacies relating to the integration of multiple systems and platforms – particularly with legacy systems.

There are now a host of monitoring tools that can help, some more scalable and effective than others. It’s important to remember that it may not always be easy to access every element or set of metrics relating to the cloud applications or services you have purchased, or end user activity, via your cloud provider.  Being able to have a genuine usage view of the cloud-based services you are purchasing may need a change in service monitoring, logging, event tracking, failure strategies and high availability approaches, including a reliable fall-back in case the worst happens and your cloud provider falls over.

When the service stops, stop!

Often, the cost of Cloud is not in services being provided, but those that have stopped. This is particularly true for the short-term “burst” services. While you may believe the service can be turned on and off as required, does your commercial contract with the provider reflect that? And, even if it does, do you have the time and resources to read through your novel-sized report to be certain you are not being charged for service down time? This is where ‘pay as you go’ really does become ‘pay more as you go’.

Become ‘Cloud Smart’

We have experienced a significant number of organisations, that recognise all of these issues too late in the game, resulting in unexpected additional expenditure, costly solution re-engineering, poor purchasing decisions, or unbreakable contracts. Avoiding these pain-points means becoming ‘Cloud Smart’.

The Peru Consulting team believes it is vital that IT leaders set the Cloud agenda from the start: building, as part of an effective Cloud Strategy, costed contracting strategies and creating effective service management and service reporting regimes before implementation is even considered.

In essence, IT leaders and their teams have to recognise all the implications of a Cloud first model they are bringing into their businesses and work out how best to manage them. For most, this will include building the new capabilities within existing teams.  It’s no use making an Opex saving on Cloud services, only to hire a new and costly team to constantly manage configuration issues of your various SaaS solutions.

This makes it even more vital to equip yourself with the Cloud Management expertise that delivers the fine control needed to get the best value from your Cloud spend. The quote “Cloud is not a destination it is a strategy” has never rung truer and your organisation needs to equip itself with the expertise to help.

Peru has expertise and services developed, from our Cloud Strategy and Readiness Assessment through to Provider Benchmarking, Sourcing and Commercial support, Cloud operating model reviews and Cloud Factory Migration Methodology. Contact us today to discuss.

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