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Wednesday, 18 May 2022 11:48

Keeping up with cloud trends, keeping costs down

By Steve Shaw
Steve Shaw, Australia/New Zealand country manager, Flexera Steve Shaw, Australia/New Zealand country manager, Flexera

GUEST OPINION: Companies of all sizes—enterprises and small-to-midsized businesses (SMBs) alike—are seeing significant uptakes in their usage of cloud. They’re moving sensitive data to the cloud, relying on multi-cloud strategies, and relying on cloud more heavily than they anticipated a year ago (thanks, in part, to COVID-19).

Perhaps it’s no wonder that cloud spend is growing rapidly. Gartner estimates that “worldwide public cloud end-user spending” will grow to nearly US$500 billion (more than AUD$700 billion) in 2022. Australia’s own portion of “the total addressable market size for cloud computing in Australia” is set to reach US$14.1 billion (nearly AUD$18 billion) by 2025, according to GlobalData.

With the growing reliance on cloud technologies comes the need to make strategic decisions about effective tooling, cloud architecture, and usage of public clouds to support overall cloud cost management initiatives. Consider three ways to keep up with cloud trends—while keeping cloud costs down.

Find and eliminate waste

Nearly a third (32%) of cloud spending is wasted and organisations are over their cloud budgets by an average of 13%, as found in the Flexera 2022 State of the Cloud Report. The report, conducted in late 2021, details findings from a survey of global cloud users and decision-makers about spend allocation, cost management, cloud infrastructure, and more.

As cloud usage grows (with 66% of respondents indicating that it was higher than initially planned this year and with cloud spending set to grow by 29% next year) and as the move to the cloud continues (with more than 56% of workloads and data anticipated to be in a public cloud in the coming year), so much waste is increasingly costly. Now is the time to optimise the existing use of cloud and formalise healthy practices for keeping cloud costs in check. Cloud cost optimisation is a perpetual challenge; for the sixth year in a row, “optimising the existing use of cloud (cloud cost savings)” was the top cloud initiative across all organisations.

FinOps—cloud financial management—teams can aid organisations by analysing cloud costs to reduce them, both through manual and automated policies. These projects may include finding previously underutilised discounts from cloud providers, shutting workloads down after-hours, creating stronger software license compliance programs, and rightsizing instances.

Choose cloud services that best meet business needs

What are the business goals of your company? Be certain to address this important, but sometimes overlooked, question when selecting cloud technologies and tools. Having a clear answer can help ensure that your cloud plans are intentional in the way cloud services are relied upon to meet business requirements and strategic goals. Successful cloud initiatives require more than knowing the metrics—the “speeds and feeds”—of a cloud offering. They require knowing how each offering can directly help meet business goals.

For example, this evaluation may be pertinent to tooling options. Increasingly, reliance on native tooling offered by cloud providers is growing. Companies are shifting away from third-party tools (e.g., for container management or orchestration). In the past year, cloud configuration tools (e.g., AWS CloudFormation templates and Microsoft Azure Resource manager templates) were used more frequently, while companies moved away from third-party tools (e.g., Ansible, Chef, Puppet, Salt/SaltStack, and Terraform). Because so many tools are available (both from third-party providers and directly from cloud providers) careful evaluation can help determine what’s best suited to your particular cloud goals and what’s most cost-effective for your particular use case.

Make it easier on yourself

Operational complexities can hinder almost any project. That’s true for cloud initiatives, too. Without centralised program oversight and staff training, sprawl can get out of hand, making cloud plans unnecessarily complicated and expensive.

This can be especially true if multi-cloud programs aren’t truly strategic. Today, nearly 9 in 10 (89%) of organisations have multi-cloud strategies; 8 in 10 (80%) have hybrid cloud strategies. These make sense when an organisation wants to use the various clouds’ services or turn to a particular private or public cloud to use a particular application. The result, too often, can be data silos. Today, 45% report siloing apps on different clouds. These silos lead to complex, often inefficient, architectures that can’t keep up with current, rapidly-evolving digital trends. 

A cloud centre of excellence (CCOE) or central cloud team can help offset or prevent the negative impact of siloed operations. These groups provide centralised controls of cloud projects, handling tasks such as sourcing the most appropriate tools to facilitate cloud adoption while minimising costs and risks. The move in this direction is strong, with 74% of enterprises using a CCOE or central cloud team.

Finding the right expertise can help overcome complexities. Enterprises often turn to managed service providers (MSPs) to support their cloud goals; today 57% leverage MSPs for some or most of their public cloud usage. Training, too, helps move beyond technical challenges. For example, more and more organisations are relying on containers (42% use Kubernetes, 43% use Docker, and 47% use AWS ECS/EKS for containers), but the top challenge of using them is that many internal staff don’t have enough training (as reported by 42%). By prioritising training, organisations can better implement the tools that support their cloud programs.

Cloud success relies not only on cloud technologies. It relies on effective strategies. Investing time to structure your cloud initiatives can be every bit as valuable as investing in technologies.

About the Author:

Steve Shaw is the Australia/New Zealand country manager at Flexera, which was recently named one of Australia’s Best Places to Work. Shaw has 25+ years of experience in direct and channel sales. Shaw first joined Flexera in August 2021 as APAC Alliances Manager, cloud. He previously was enterprise sales director at Crayon, a reseller specialising in the software asset management (SAM) space, where he worked with a number of SAM vendors, including Flexera. Earlier in his career, he helped grow vendors such as Oracle, Telstra, and Avaya.

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