We speak to enterprises large and small about cloud cost optimization, and one of the more dominant themes we have been hearing lately is: who should manage app development costs? Cloud Operations teams (ITOps, DevOps, FinOps, Cloud Center of Excellence, etc.) that are responsible for the management, governance and optimization of an enterprise’s cloud resources need to get the Application owners or the lines of business owners to be responsible for cost. It can’t simply be the centralized cloud team who cares about cost. Folks using cloud services on a daily basis for engineering, development, QA, testing, etc. need to take actions related to optimizing cloud costs, managing user governance and security operations.
I liken this a bit to the response to the COVID-19 pandemic given this is the event that has defined 2020. The Federal Government can collect data from across the country, provide resources and publish guidelines but ultimately the State Governments need to take the actions to shut down schools and non-essential businesses, and certain counties or jurisdictions within those states can even decide if they will adhere to the state guidelines, there could be very good reasons they don’t based on data or essential businesses. We see the same underlying process in enterprises when it comes to cloud cost optimization and management.
Let’s play this out.
Cloud spend has become the largest single IT cost outside of labor and is growing 10-15% month on month. So, the CloudOps team is given a directive from Finance and/ or IT Management to find tools or solutions to identify cloud waste and control cloud spend primarily in AWS, Azure and Google clouds.
Then, the CloudOps team researches tools, both 3rd party and native cloud provider tools, and finds a couple important things:
- If the enterprise is multi-cloud, the native CSP tools are a non-starter
- Tools must be data-driven, so the recommendations to reduce the app development cost are believable and actually useful
- The tools must be self-service, i.e., the application owners or the lines of business need to be able to take the actions. Otherwise, they will deem CloudOps as being draconian (and push back because they know their app better … sounds like the States).
Next, CloudOps brings in a tool to do a pilot. It starts small with a sandbox account, but as data and trust build, the pilot expands to include many AWS, Azure, and/or GCP accounts that are used by the application owners. Then CloudOps determines a “friendly” line of business where the app development cost owner is keen to identify waste, reduce costs, and increase their cloud efficiency.
CloudOps and the cloud optimization vendor provide a demo to the app owners using their own data and showing them where they have waste, such as idle resources, over-provisioned resources, orphaned resources, resources that could leverage reservations, and so forth. The app owners are intrigued and are keen to understand if they are the master of their own domain.
- Where is this data coming from? Is it reliable?
- Can we take our own actions? Is this self-service?
- What about user governance? My QA team does not need to manage resources that belong to dev or staging. Can we reject a recommendation because the app we are running requires that configuration?
- Can we group resources into application stacks and manage them as a single entity?
- Can we override an action?
In order to effectively manage the app development cost, CloudOps needs to involve the owners and users of those applications and provide them with the data and tools to make decisions and take actions. The cloud is self-service, so in order to effectively manage your cloud services, you need the optimization and governance tools to also be self-service and adapt to the needs of each business unit within your organization.
Usually when we think of the cloud, we think of computers and databases and stuff someplace far away. It “just works” (usually) and we do not think of the numerous folks that maintain it and countless people that use it.
But it has a different feel now, as folks around the world are hunkering down at home or in crisis command centers, facing the new realities COVID-19 has brought us, and how its impact continues to evolve and develop.
Paradoxically, while we’re physically further apart than ever before – we’re also drawn closer together, as we focus on this global health crisis and the rippling effects throughout all countries and industries. So let me pull aside this digital curtain for a moment, and say hello directly.
I’m aware that you, our customers and followers, are facing challenges you’ve never faced before. Those challenges will vary, from wild fluctuations in supply chains; to enormous digital demand on the technologies and platforms that enable us to stay connected (Zoom, Slack), fed (Instacart, UberEats), and healthy (Teladoc, Amwell).
From our little ParkMyCloud corner of the world – we would like to do what we can to help you and your business. Our values are built around cost optimization, simplifying complex problems, and transparency (or as I like to say, keeping things real.) These are all important more than ever today as we respond and reshape our operations, while maintaining trust with employees and customers.
If you want or need to save money in these times, we would like to help. Let us know and we can walk through your cloud environment together and give you some suggestions. And not just about how our software can help – we’ve collected a lot of knowledge about saving money in public cloud from some great companies and are happy to share where it might be able to help you. As always, ParkMyCloud’s cost optimization software is free to try. If you need a trial longer than 14 days, or need access to features above your current tier, please let me know.
And if there’s anything more we can do to assist you, we’re all ears. We’re all on the same team.
There is a growing job function among companies using public cloud: the Enterprise Cloud Manager. We did a study on ParkMyCloud users which showed that a growing proportion of them have “cloud” or the name of their cloud provider such as “AWS” in their job title. This indicates a growing degree of specialization for individuals who manage cloud infrastructure as demonstrated by their cloud computing job titles. And, in some companies, there is a dedicated role for cloud management – such as an Enterprise Cloud Manager.
Why would you need an Enterprise Cloud Manager?
The world of cloud management is constantly changing and becoming increasingly complex even for the best cloud manager. Recently, the increased adoption of hybrid and multi-cloud environments by organizations to take advantage of best-of-breed solutions, make it more confusing, expensive, and even harder to control. If someone is not fully versed in this field, they may not always know how to handle problems related to governance, security, and cost control. It is important to dedicate resources in your organization to cloud management and related cloud job roles. This chart from Gartner gives us a look at all the things that are involved in cloud management so we can better understand how many parts need to come together for it to run smoothly.
Having a role in your organization that is dedicated to cloud management allows others, who are not specialized in that field, to focus on their jobs, while also centralizing responsibility. With the help of an Enterprise Cloud Manager, responsibilities are delegated appropriately to ensure cloud environments are handled according to best practices in governance, security, and cost control.
After all, just because you adopt public cloud infrastructure does not mean you have addressed any governance or cost issues – which seems rather obvious when you consider that there are sub-industries created around addressing these problems, but you’d be surprised how often eager adopters assume the technology will do the work and forget that cloud management is not a technological but a human behavior problem.
And someone has to be there to bring the motivational bagels to the “you really need to turn your instances off” meeting.
A Larger Approach: The Cloud Center of Excellence
Cohesively, businesses with a presence in the cloud, regardless of their size, should also consider adopting the functionalities of a Cloud Center of Excellence (CCoE) – which, if the resources are available, can be like an entire department of Enterprise Cloud Managers. Essentially, a CCoE brings together cross-functional teams to manage cloud strategy, governance, and best practices, and serve as cloud leaders for the entire organization.
The role of an Enterprise Cloud Manager or cloud center of excellence (or cloud operations center or cloud enablement team, whatever you want to call it) is to oversee cloud operations. They know all the ins and outs of cloud management so they are able to create processes for resource provisioning and services. Their focus is on optimizing their infrastructure which will help streamline all their cloud operations, improve productivity, and optimize cloud costs.
Moreover, the Enterprise Cloud Manager can systematize the foundation that creates a CCoE with some key guiding principles like the ones outlined by AWS Cloud Center of Excellence here.
With the Enterprise Cloud Manager leadership, DevOps, CloudOps, Infrastructure, and Finance teams within the CCoE can ensure that the organization’s diverse set of business units are using a common set of best practices to spearhead their cloud efforts while keeping balanced working relationships, operational efficiency, and innovative thinking needed to achieve organizational goals.
A Note on Job Titles
It’s worth noting that while descriptive, the “Enterprise Cloud Manager” title isn’t necessarily something widely adopted. We’ve run across folks with titles in Cloud Manager, Cloud Operations Manager, Cloud Project Manager, Cloud Infrastructure Manager, Cloud Delivery Manager, etc.
If you’re on the job hunt, we have a few other ideas for cloud and AWS jobs for you to check out.
Automation Tools are Essential
With so much going on in this space, it isn’t possible to expect just one person or a team to manage all of this by hand – you need automation tools. The great thing is that these tools deliver tangible results that make automation a key component for successful enterprise cloud operations and work for companies of any size. Primary users can be people dedicated to this full time, such as an Enterprise Cloud Manager, as well as people managing cloud infrastructure on top of other responsibilities.
Why are these tools important? They provide two main things: visibility and action to act on those recommendations. (That is, unless you’re willing to let go of the steering wheel and let the platform make the decisions – but most folks aren’t, yet.) Customers that were once managing resources manually are now saving time and money by implementing an automation tool. Take a look at the automation tools that are set up through your cloud vendor, as well as third-party tools that are available for cost optimization and beyond. Setting up these tools for automation will lessen the need for routine check-ins and maintenance while ensuring your infrastructure is optimized.
Do we really need this role?
To put it simply, if you have more than a handful of cloud instances: yes. If you’re small, it may be part of someone’s job description. If you’re large, it may be a center of excellence.
But if you want your organization to be well informed and up to date, then it is important that you have the organizational roles in place to oversee your cloud operations – an Enterprise Cloud Manager, CCoE and automation tools.
Google Cloud credits are an incentive offered by Google that help you get started on Google’s Cloud Platform for free. Like Amazon and Microsoft, Google is trying to make it easy and in some cases free to get started using their Cloud Platform or certain services on their platform that they believe are “sticky” – which is beneficial if you’d like to try the services out for personal use or for a proof-of-concept. There is both a spend and a time limit for Google’s free credits, but then they also offer “always free” products that do not count against the free credit and can be used forever, or until Google decides to pull the plug, with usage limits.
1. Google Cloud Free Tier
The most basic way to use Google Cloud products is the Google Cloud Free Tier. This extended free trial gives you access to free cloud resources so you can learn about Google Cloud services by trying them on your own.
The Google Cloud Free Tier has two parts:
- A 12-month free trial with a $300 credit to use with any Google Cloud services.
- Always Free, which provides limited access to many common Google Cloud resources, free of charge.
12-Month Free Trial
The Google Cloud 12-month free trial and $300 credit is for new customers/trialers. Be sure to check through the full list of eligibility requirements on Google’s website. (No cryptomining – sorry!)
Before you start spinning up machines, be sure to note the following limitations:
- You can’t have more than 8 cores (or virtual CPUs) running at the same time.
- You can’t add GPUs to your VM instances.
- You can’t request a quota increase.
- You can’t create VM instances that are based on Windows Server images.
Your free trial ends when 12 months have elapsed since you signed up and/or you have spent your $300 in Google Cloud credit. When you use resources covered by Always Free during your free trial period, those resources are not charged against your free trial credit.
At the end of the Free Trial you either begin paying or you lose your services and data, it’s pretty black and white, and you can upgrade at any time during your Free Trial with any remaining credits being applied against your bill.
Google Cloud Always Free
The Always Free program is essentially the “next step” of free usage after a trial. These offerings provide limited access to many Google Cloud resources. The resources are usually provided at monthly intervals, and they are not credits — they do not accumulate or roll over from one interval to the next, it’s use it or lose it. The Always Free is a regular part of your Google Cloud account, unlike the Free Trial.
Not all Google Cloud services offer resources as part of Always Free program. For a full list of the services and usage limits please see here – a few of the more popular services include Compute Engine, Cloud Storage, Cloud Functions, Google Kubernetes Engine (GKE), Big Query and more. Be sure to check the usage limits before spinning up resources, as usage above the Always Free tier will be billed at standard rates.
2. Google Cloud for Startups
Google is motivated to get startups to build their infrastructure on Google Cloud while they’re still early stage, to gain long-term customers. If you work for an early-stage startup, reach out to your accelerator, incubator, or VC about Google Cloud credit. You can get up too $100,000 in credit – but it will come at the price of a large percentage of equity.
Options that don’t require you to give up equity include Founder Friendly Labs, StartX if you happen.
3. Education Offerings
Google offers several options for students, teachers, and researchers to get up and running with Google Cloud.
- GCP Credits for Learning – Faculty can apply for $100 in credits and $50 per student. This offering is intended for students who are learning GCP for career purposes.
- Research credits – Research faculty can apply for $5,000 in credits for Google Cloud resources to support academic research, or $1,000 for PhD candidates. The research can be in any field. Learn more here.
There are also several offerings related to making education accessible without associated credits. See more on the Google Cloud Education page.
4. Vendor Promotions and Events
Various vendors that are Google Cloud partners run occasional promotions, typically in the form of a credit greater than $300 for the Google Cloud Free Trial, although we’ve also seen straight credits offered. For example, CloudFlare offers a credit program for app developers.
Also check out events that might offer credit – for example, TechStars startup weekends offers $3,000 in Google Cloud credits for attendees. Smaller awards of a few hundred dollars can be found through meetups and other events.
Google Cloud Credits do offer people and companies a way to get started quickly, and the Always Free program is a unique way to entice users to try different services at no cost, albeit in a limited way. Be sure to check out the limitations before you get started, and have fun!
The term “cloud expense management” has been co-opted by many parties, from those selling employee expense management software hosted in the cloud, to telecom expense management software (TEM), to IT expense management software, to cloud cost management software which focuses on SaaS, IaaS, and/or PaaS services. For the purpose of today’s blog we will slant towards cloud management software and specifically key in on infrastructure, IaaS and PaaS offered as public cloud services.
One of the greatest benefits of cloud computing is supposed to be cost efficiency, but there is a flip side to the agility gained by using public cloud computing. Costs can easily get out of control if your cloud services are not effectively provisioned or properly governed and managed. Most organizations have not yet fully migrated all their applications to the cloud. Because of this hybrid cloud structure, public cloud services can become an added cost to their overall budget, making understanding, planning and managing these cloud services extremely important. That is where cloud expense management software comes into play, it really needs to be part of your overall cloud management strategy from day one.
Cloud Computing Services
Before we discuss further how to manage cloud expenses, let’s take a look at the different cloud service types in more detail to get a picture of the expenses there are to manage. Remember there are literally hundreds of IaaS and PaaS services offered in the public cloud — as of this blog writing AWS alone has 190+ cloud services.
Infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) is a category that offers traditional IT services like compute, database, storage, network, load balancers, firewalls, etc. on demand and off premise – vendors like AWS, Azure and Google dominate this market.
Platform-as-a-service (PaaS) is a category of cloud computing services that provides a platform allowing customers to develop, run, and manage applications without the complexity of building and maintaining the infrastructure typically associated with developing and launching an app – AWS, Azure and Google offer PaaS along with IBM, Oracle, and RedHat to name a few.
Software-as-a-service (SaaS) is a software licensing and delivery model in which software is licensed on a subscription basis and is centrally hosted. It is sometimes referred to as “on-demand software” – vendors who dominate this space include Salesforce, ServiceNow, Microsoft and SAP (and ParkMyCloud) to name a few.
Enterprise expenses in these categories are skyrocketing as outlined in our cloud waste blog, along with the difficulties of administering an effective cloud expense management for a single cloud, let alone a multi-cloud or hybrid cloud environment in order to protect a company’s bottom line. Companies now require visibility and insights into their cloud-based services, and automated controls and actions to remediate and manage those cloud service expenses.
Where does Cloud Expense Management fit?
As mentioned, cloud expense management should be a key element in your overall cloud management strategy. Enterprises need a clear strategy here and generally tools fit into the following categories — please note functionality can be both natively provided by the cloud service provider or via a third-party:
- Provisioning and orchestration: create, modify, and delete resources as well as orchestrate workflows and management of workloads
- Automation: Enable cloud consumption and deployment of app services via infrastructure-as-code and other DevOps concepts
- Security and compliance: manage role-based access of cloud services and enforce security configurations
- Service request: collect and fulfill requests from users to access and deploy cloud resources
- Monitoring and logging: collect performance and availability metrics as well as automate incident management and log aggregation
- Inventory and classification: discover and maintain pre-existing brownfield cloud resources plus monitor and manage changes
- Cost management and optimization: track and rightsize cloud spend and align capacity and performance to actual demand
- Migration, backup, and DR: enable data protection, disaster recovery, and data mobility via snapshots and/or data replication
We believe cloud expense management is a subcategory of Cloud Cost Management and Optimization. Tools in this category generally help enterprises with:
- Cost visibility, reporting, budgeting and chargeback
- Buy and manage Reserved Instances (RI’s) and Savings Plans
- Leverage usage data in real-time to make recommendations and take actions on idle, under or overprovisioned, or orphaned cloud resources
- Create an action plan to optimize future cloud costs and avoid budget surprises
Why is Cloud Expense Management Important?
Simply put, the cloud is a utility and it needs to be managed as such – cloud costs need to be reported and allocated, cloud services need to be optimized, and in order to reap the benefits of cloud these cost control actions needed to be automated. Whether cloud expense management is your full-time, or “when-you-have-time” responsibility, it is important to build it into your cloud management strategy from day one. It will take time but what you get in return is increased optimization and validation of your cloud services and costs, ensuring you maximize your ROI.