Article originally published at Grid Dynamics Blog

5 strategies to reduce cloud cost

After initial migration to the cloud, companies often discover that their infrastructure costs are surprisingly high. No matter how good the initial planning and cost estimation process was, the final costs almost always come in above expectations.

Lightweight CICD

  • Reducing the number of integration testing environments, including functional integration, performance integration, user acceptance, and staging.
  • Embracing service mesh and smart routing between applications and microservices. The service mesh can allow multiple logical “environments” to safely exist within the perimeter of production environments and allows testing of services in the “dark launch” mode directly in production.
  • Onboarding modern continuous delivery tooling such as Harness.io to streamline the CICD pipeline, implement safe dark launches in the production environment, and enable controlled and monitored canary releases.

Application modernization: containers, serverless, and cloud-native stack

The lift and shift strategy of cloud migration is becoming less and less popular but only a few companies choose to do deep application modernization and migrate their workloads to containers or serverless computing. Deploying applications directly on VMs is a viable approach, which can align with immutable infrastructure, infrastructure-as-code, and lightweight CICD requirements. For some applications, including many stateful components, it is the only reliable choice. However, VM-based deployment brings infrastructure overheads.

Reactive and proactive scalability

There are two types of scalability that companies can implement to improve the utilization of cloud resources and reduce cloud costs: reactive auto-scaling and predictive AI-based scaling. Reactive autoscaling is the easiest to implement, but only works for stateless applications that don’t require long start-up and warm-up times. Since it is based on run-time metrics, it doesn’t handle well sudden bursts of traffic. In this case, either too many instances can be provisioned when they are not needed, or new instances can be provisioned too late, and customers will experience degraded performance. Applications that are configured for auto-scaling should be designed and implemented to start and warm up quickly.

On-demand and low-priority workloads

To take advantage of both dynamic scalability and cloud discounts for continued usage of resources, a company can implement on-demand provisioning of low-priority workloads. Such workloads can include in-depth testing, batch analytics, reporting, etc. For example, even with lightweight CICD, a company would still need to perform service-level testing or integration testing, in test or production environments. The CICD process can be designed in such a way that heavy testing will be aligned with the low production traffic. For customer-facing applications, it would often correspond to the night time. Most cloud providers allow discounts for continued usage even when a VM is taken down and then reprovisioned with a different workload, so a company would not need to sacrifice flexibility in deployments and reusing existing provisioning and deployment automation.

Monitoring 360

  • Team
  • Application or microservice
  • Environment
  • Change
  • Tagging cloud resources with department, team, application, environment, or change tags.
  • Using tools, including cloud cost analysis and optimization tools, or tools such as Harness.io, which provides continuous efficiency features to measure, report, and optimize infrastructure costs.

Conclusion

Cloud migration is a challenging endeavor for any organization. While it’s important to estimate cloud infrastructure costs in advance, the companies shouldn’t be discouraged when they start getting higher invoices than originally expected. The first priority should be to get the applications running and avoid disruption to the business. The company can then use the strategies outlined above to optimize the cloud infrastructure footprint and reduce cloud costs. Grid Dynamics has helped numerous Fortune-1000 companies optimize cloud costs during and after the initial phases of cloud migration. Feel free to reach out to us if you have any questions or if you need help optimizing your cloud infrastructure footprint.

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