Enterprise cloud environments are dynamic and complex, which offers tremendous flexibility and performance for innovative organizations pushing headlong toward their digital transformation goals. Unfortunately, that same complexity can result in inefficiencies and waste, especially if cloud resources aren’t managed effectively over time. WIthout the right strategies in place to identify and eliminate cloud waste, organizations can quickly find themselves dealing with escalating infrastructure costs they’d hoped to avoid by migrating to the cloud.
What is Cloud Waste?
Cloud waste refers to the overprovisioning or inefficient use of resources in a cloud computing instance. It is a phenomenon that occurs when organizations allocate more cloud computing resources than they actually need, pay for services they don't use, or do not optimize the utilization of their resources. This can result in increased costs for the organization and reduced efficiency in the delivery of services.
According to a 2022 Gartner forecast, worldwide public cloud spending is expected to exceed $590 billion in 2023, an increase of 20.7% over the previous year. Much of that growth will come from investment in infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) as organizations migrate more of their core business assets into the cloud. As spending continues to increase, it’s more important than ever for companies to keep an eye on cloud waste. A 2022 survey of over 750 executives found that just over 30% of cloud spending (or roughly $175 billion of total cloud spending) was in excess of their actual business needs. Given the poor visibility that many organizations have into their cloud utilization, it’s likely that they’re wasting even more.
Common Cloud Waste Culprits
Identifying sources of cloud waste is crucial for organizations looking to optimize their cloud usage and reduce costs. Cloud computing infrastructure is a complex and dynamic environment, and it's easy for wasteful practices to escape notice and multiply over time. By identifying sources of cloud waste, organizations can take proactive steps to eliminate inefficiencies and streamline their cloud deployment. Identifying cloud waste sources can also help companies better understand their utilization patterns so they can make more informed decisions about their cloud usage.
An unattached volume is a virtual storage device in the cloud that is not currently connected to any computing instance and cannot be accessed. Since it consumes storage resources, however, it still incurs costs despite the fact that it’s not being used. Unattached volumes are typically created when multiple instances are created and terminated quickly. Organizations should regularly review their cloud volumes and ensure they only pay for the storage resources they need, either by deleting unattached volumes or attaching them to instances that require additional storage.
Unattached Load Balancers
Load balancing is a technique used to distribute incoming network traffic across multiple computing instances to ensure high availability, performance, and scalability. In order to function, however, load balancers must be attached to an instance. An unattached load balancer will still consume cloud computing resources and drive up overall cloud costs. Sometimes called “orphaned” load balancers, they’re usually created when an instance is improperly deleted or impaired in some way. Identifying and deleting them not only eliminates the unnecessary cloud waste, but can also help identify other problems within the cloud environment.
A cloud database is a collection of data that is organized and stored for efficient retrieval and manipulation. When a database is unconnected, no computing instances are able to access it. Although it’s not being actively used, it still takes up storage space and will be billed by a cloud provider like any other resource. It's important for organizations to regularly review databases within their cloud deployment. If any of them haven’t been connected to for 14 days or more, they can usually be flagged as outdated and marked for deletion to avoid paying for unused resources.
5 Strategies to Eliminate Cloud Waste
Fortunately, there are a number of strategies organizations can utilize to avoid incurring additional cloud waste and eliminate existing practices that are driving up cloud costs.
1. Staged Migration
Staged cloud migration offers several benefits over a rapid, all-at-once migration. By breaking down the migration process into smaller, manageable stages, organizations can ensure that their engineering team has the time and resources necessary to adapt their systems to the cloud environment. This allows the team to identify and fix any inefficiencies and monitor the new system's interactions with existing workflows. By doing so, the team can avoid creating cloud waste by transferring inefficient practices from the previous setup and ensure that the organization realizes the full cost savings benefits of moving to the cloud. In addition, staged cloud migration reduces the risk of migration failure and allows organizations to gradually transition to the cloud, minimizing the impact on their operations and ensuring a smooth transition to the new environment.
2. Cap Auto-Scaling Capacity
In a highly dynamic environment like the cloud, auto-scaling capabilities can result in unexpected costs if not properly managed. For example, Amazon Elastic Computing Cloud (EC2) instances are billed per second, even when they are idle, and can scale up and out to accommodate an influx of server requests. To prevent runaway costs, it is recommended to set minimum, desired, and maximum capacity limits on auto scaling groups within each cloud platform. By capping cloud capacity, organizations can ensure that their cloud resources are used efficiently and that costs are managed effectively. This can lead to significant cost savings, improved performance, and a more sustainable cloud infrastructure.
3. Automate Cost Management
The dynamic nature of cloud environments can make it difficult to manage costs effectively using traditional methods such as spreadsheets. To avoid this, organizations should set up an automated system for detecting, tracking, and reporting abnormal cloud behavior to quickly identify and eliminate waste. Cloud cost management tools have the capability to detect any anomalies and flag them for further investigation. Catching these issues quickly allows teams to catch minor problems before they have a chance to snowball into more expensive ones, but also ensures that cloud workloads aren’t being impacted by inefficiencies throughout the deployment.
4. Tag Cloud Resources
Properly tagging cloud assets is essential for reducing cloud waste. By following established global tagging policies, organizations can ensure consistency in resource allocation across different regions and layers. A standard naming convention for resources has the added benefit of making them easier to identify and reorganize in high-pressure situations, where mistakes or taking shortcuts are more likely to occur. Categorizing resources through proper tagging also increases their visibility and accessibility for reporting purposes, allowing organizations to better manage their cloud resources and reduce waste. Tools such as AWS Cost Explorer can be used to properly tag cloud assets and monitor costs, ultimately leading to a more efficient and effective management of cloud resources.
5. Consider Utilizing Reserved Instances
Reserved Instances (RIs) offer a valuable opportunity for organizations to reduce cloud waste. By committing to a specific level of usage for a set period of time, typically one to three years, organizations can receive substantial discounts (sometimes up to 75%) on cloud computing prices compared to on-demand pricing. It’s important to evaluate an organization’s historic spending or usage patterns to ensure that RIs are a good fit for its workloads. Most cloud services offer a variety of options for RIs (such as all, partial, or no upfront payments), which provides even more flexibility for organizations to reduce cloud waste. By utilizing RIs, organizations can better manage their cloud resources and reduce cloud waste, leading to a more efficient and cost-effective cloud infrastructure.
Reduce Your Cloud Waste with the Right Partner
Implementing and managing a waste-free cloud environment is easier with the right cloud engineering partner at your side. At Evoque Data Center Solutions, we help colocation clients build dynamic hybrid cloud deployments and support customers migrating to a full cloud environment through our Foghorn cloud consulting services. With more than 20 years of mission critical infrastructure experience and over 100 certifications and accreditations, our cloud engineering specialists are ready to provide the support your organization needs to complete its digital transformation journey.
To learn more about how Evoque’s Foghorn cloud consulting services can help you prevent or eliminate cloud waste, talk to one of our experts today.