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Cloud Cost Management: How to Keep the Meter in Check

By itopia Team

Anyone who has ever been stuck in a traffic jam in a taxi knows the helpless feeling as the meter keeps ticking away even though you're going nowhere.  Thankfully (for some), modern ride sharing services have relieved passengers of that pain by providing a wider variety of services, more convenience and up-front pricing.  When it comes to cloud computing, most IT administrators have experienced a similar feeling of helplessness that comes in the form of sticker shock when the monthly bill arrives.  In short, despite all of the benefits the cloud has to offer, cloud cost management is still keeping IT pros up at night as they are faced with ever-shrinking budgets and unexpected costs.

Cloud Cost Management: things aren't always what they seem

For the early adopters of cloud computing, the concept of paying only for the resources actually consumed was a no-brainer, especially after investing in and running  expensive infrastructure in hosting or co-location environments, that was often underutilized.  Basically, companies were forced to pay for any and all of the resources they might need to handle the maximum amount of workloads they might need at any given time.  So, while the pay-as-you-go model seemed great on paper, in reality billing turned out to be much less transparent and higher than expected.

Early adopters of AWS were the first burn victims of hidden and unexpected cloud costs.  Turns out that unused EC2 instances topped the list of unanticipated charges.  On top of that, effective cloud cost management in this type of environment requires IT administrators to manually look for and shut off any EC2 instances not in use  ̶  a time consuming task that only prevents talented professionals from focusing on adding more value to the overall business.

What are your uptime requirements - 24x7 or 15x5?

Developing a cloud cost management strategy from the onset of your deployment is critical for success.  While it may seem mind-numbingly obvious, the first specification you need to lay out is when your office is actually on.  Do you need infrastructure resources to power an international team that's working 24x7, or is it more realistic and cost-effective to ensure that the maximum amount of cloud resources are available 15 hours a day and five days a week?  That's the easy part, but making it happen can be a bit trickier, particularly if you don't have the right automation and orchestration tools to manage cloud infrastructure ̶ or a cloud pricing plan that meets both your business requirements and budget.   

Server uptime scheduling, down to the second pricing and discounts

As we discussed in an earlier blog post, by using the combination of itopia’s granular server uptime scheduling capabilities with Google Cloud’s per second pricing, you can lower your costs considerably.  Let’s calculate what your Google cloud costs would be for a 100 seat cloud desktop deployment using itopia’s cloud cost calculator.  Not surprisingly, companies that turn server resources off in the cloud when users aren’t working late at night or on the weekends — the 15x5 scenario — can save over 50 percent on cloud infrastructure costs than those that are always on.  

This is great, however, in today’s cloudy and mobile world,  the traditional nine to five workday is becoming a thing of the past for most companies.  Simply put, employees expect more flexibility to better balance work and life, and management has come to understand that providing this actually creates more productivity in the end.  To enable this and still save money on the cloud, itopia has given IT administrators granular controls through through a feature called Server Uptime Scheduling to shut only some servers down outside of business hours.  

For even more cloud cost management, Google offers two discount programs: committed and sustained discounts.  Committed discounts work like this: companies “commit” to a certain amount of resource usage at an annual rate, and are given a 57 percent discount on that usage.  Plus, resources are available 24x7.  Any usage over that rate will be billed at the regular rate. The sustained discount is essentially volume pricing—in other words, the more resources you use, the cheaper the per minute rate is.  For example, if you keep your resources up 24x7, you’ll get a 30 percent discount.

At the end of the day, cloud cost management is no longer something you have little to no control over, like your taxi meter in heavy traffic. Google Cloud’s per minute pricing model and more transparent billing coupled with itopia’s granular and automated resource management capabilities give you many ways to keep cloud costs under control so that you can do what you do best—improve and grow your business.

Start your free 30-day cloud automation trial here

Tags: VDI & DaaS on GCP