Workfront is using ParkMyCloud as their go-to solution for cloud cost control, in addition to multi-cloud management and governance benefits they gain from using CloudHealth. We talked with Randy Goddard, Senior Systems Engineer, about how ParkMyCloud came at the “perfect time” and why he sees it being implemented company-wide over the next 6 months.
Randy, thanks for chatting with us. Can you start by telling us about Workfront, what the company does, and your role in the organization?
Workfront is a category-creating company with a platform centered around work management. We enable people to do their best work and to make it matter. If you think of a system of records, like Salesforce as a system of records for customer contact, or HR as a system of records for employee information, Workfront is a system for operational work.
My role began 5 years ago as a traditional systems engineer and over the last 3 years I have moved into a cloud governance role as we made our transition from data center to cloud services. In my cloud governance role I’m third down from the CTO, reporting to the infrastructure manager.
What public clouds are you using – and how many people at Workfront are using the cloud?
We are multi-cloud, using both AWS and Google Cloud Platform for different workloads — and we have about 200 Workfront employees using these two clouds.
So, you use CloudHealth. Tell us about your experience with their multi-cloud management platform – how did you get started and how does it help you?
We’ve used CloudHealth for roughly 2.5 years. Other members of them team piloted and demoed it to us. They left the company shortly after, so I picked it up right after it was introduced and went on to be part of the implementation.
We use CloudHealth for overall governance of all our cloud services. The benefit is the clear visibility into who is running what, where, and what it costs. The side benefits include rightsizing, security notifications, budgeting, and monitoring, in addition to the major benefit of visibility over resources.
How did you learn about ParkMyCloud?
We learned about ParkMyCloud through CloudHealth, actually. A colleague and I attended a webinar in which they talked about automation and the concept of shutting down of resources, introducing ParkMyCloud as the partner solution to accomplish that.
It was perfect timing, really. Just at the moment that CloudHealth and ParkMyCloud partnered and the information was provided in this webinar, one of our busiest units had started working on a homegrown solution. When we became aware of what ParkMyCloud could do, we were in the middle of looking for a solution ourselves, considering build versus buy and determining cost-benefit analysis. We saw the webinar that week, saw the benefit and the cost associated and thought – why would we build our own for the cost that we could get ParkMyCloud?
Was there any pressure from outside of your department to bring cloud costs down?
Since starting on the cloud journey, I have been very well aware of the cost, as has the cloud engineering team. We were really the ones that felt a sense of urgency and paid mind to the actual costs. Outside of this small group, there was a common misconception that the cloud is just free, and there wasn’t an awareness of the need for insight, diligence, and regimen in our cloud environment.
Our team was at the forefront of demonstrating to the business that we need a solution for turning resources off when not using them. We knew we needed to get ahead of costs as they climb and climb and climb, especially in developer environments where resources aren’t required to be on 24/7 and can be oftentimes left unattended for weeks on end. It made a lot of sense to adopt the ParkMyCloud model, pilot it, get it running, and show the business how easy it is to maintain that type of environment.
Funny that you mention the misconception of “it’s free – it’s cloud” – what do you think contributes to that mindset?
I think it’s the migration from traditional data centers in a product-oriented environment or a feature factory. The initial outlay and capital expenditure of buying hardware for a data center is traditionally the only insight that an organization has into how much things cost. But once that capital expenditure is made, the ongoing operational costs are completely obfuscated.
The beauty of cloud is the visibility into how much things actually cost to run. If we want to create widget X, we can now associate direct costs to the infrastructure resources involved into supporting that widget. We never had to pay attention before, but now we have this model where there is free reign in the data center, you get the keys, and you can do what you want. At the same time, there’s a budget associated with all of that and guess who’s in charge? You are. It raises that level of knowledge and awareness that it isn’t just dev costs, it isn’t just the widget, now it’s infrastructure that we have to start paying attention to and architecture around that.
How has your experience been with ParkMyCloud so far?
After a demo, we started a trial and put it to use with cloud credentials for an AWS account that had a lot of development resources. We let the tool model the usage patterns of those resources. After it had enough usage data, we went in to see how automated the process is to spin resources down and back up, and how the scheduling works.
After ParkMyCloud had been running for a couple of weeks, we saw that 7 out of 8 environments with these cloud credentials could be completely shut off for at least 12 hours a day. Because of that, and applying ParkMyCloud to all our enterprise accounts across just the USA, we saw that we could really save a lot of money.
How much are you saving with ParkMyCloud? Any estimates of how much you will save?
The piloting we just did was specifically with automated policy. We set is so that any cloud credential that has ‘-dev’ in the name would be turned off at 7PM our time, and turned on at 7AM. From adding our one cloud credential to see if it could really shut off everything without having to specify the resources by policy, we saw that sure enough it did what we needed it to do and flawlessly. As new things are spun up in that account, they’re shut off at night and turned back on in the morning.
Once we added all of our cloud credentials, we used data from ParkMyCloud’s recommendation screen and our own cost-benefit analysis to present our leadership a safe estimate of $200k in savings a year, but I wouldn’t be surprised at all if it ends up being more. Anytime you can show a cost-benefit analysis with a tool or a resource – that’s solid data you can bank on.
How many teams are using the tool now, and how many could be implementing them in the future?
The cloud engineering team was the poster child and right now we have 2 full teams. Another I am going to run through with next week, making 3 total. That team is probably where we will see some of the greatest savings.
Our implementation is ongoing. We recently presented ParkMyCloud and CloudHealth at a company-wide internal product user conference. We participated as individual contributors to demo how we were using the tools that could enable us to be cloud stewards around our cloud spend, prompting a lot of discussion and interest. We walked interested teams through all of our documentation around the tool, providing them with a short onboarding session.
Across the entire product organization, we have 25-30 teams that will be implementing ParkMyCloud.
How are you using ParkMyCloud’s automation functionality?
We’re making good use of SmartParking. One clear benefit is that you can go in and tune your settings to your environment, and once the analysis has been done on your resources, those come up as potential “smartparking recommendations”. It’s kind of a no-brainer – “yeah! turn these off at this time.” We do have some full, customer-facing production accounts that need to stay on, and we can’t spin those down at night, but the other 80% can and should be evaluated with SmartParking.
Another side benefit is that when we onboard teams with ParkMyCloud, the side discussion is always about rightsizing. We can look at the heat map through those SmartParking recommendation settings and see that it doesn’t really make sense to have this m42xl running 24/7 when it only gets hit certain times of day and max CPU is only going up to 35% – now we can have that rightsizing discussion around resources, opening a dialogue and providing data points. I have also heard some rumblings about automation around rightsizing and we look forward to utilizing that through CloudHealth and ParkMyCloud.
Are you using any other of our tools and features like the Slack integration?
Yes, we do use Slack. In fact, we had been using it since we turned ParkMyCloud on for our development account, and every night we see the report about which resources are spinning down and each morning which ones have been turned back on.
Do you use any other tools or processes in addition to CloudHealth and ParkMyCloud?
No other tools to control costs. We got started with CloudHealth so early on in our journey that I can’t see anything better, even AWS in providing their own dashboard and cloud-native tools hasn’t compared to the reporting, flexibility, and visibility across all of our accounts like CloudHealth does – and that doesn’t provide multi-cloud management. There aren’t any other tools that we have had to use or employ to get the information that we need.
Now we’re excited to be using ParkMyCloud. We were initially attracted to it because you chose to do one thing and do it well. You’re branching out now, with a couple of more things like rightsizing, which you will also do well instead of trying to do a broad spectrum of things poorly or mediocre. That’s what got us – it fits what we need to do.
That’s great to hear. Anything else you would like to add?
This is the beginning of a very good partnership. We have gotten great response and visibility into support and development around the product. I know when I see a problem and I throw it to the ParkMyCloud support team, I always get quick feedback.
That and the obvious: a lot of cloud customers will realize right off the bat that proper governance is not easy. You can’t go into being a cloud user thinking that it’s going to be cheaper or clearly visible, especially with the complexity of adding multiple accounts and then complicating it with multi-cloud management. You’ve got to employ tools that allow you to gain visibility into and management over those resources. Without ParkMyCloud and CloudHeath, we wouldn’t have that.