Four Steps for a Cost-Effective Cloud Services Transition
Cloud spending is up. Gartner1 predicts the cloud services market will hit $246.8 billion in 2017, an 18 percent increase over last year.
But amid the good news is a challenge: How can enterprises make the switch to the cloud without breaking the bank? Here are four ways companies can keep costs down while still reaping the benefits of the cloud.
What’s one of the largest cost sinks for companies moving to the cloud? Doing too much, too fast. It makes sense: With cloud providers now available across specialized niches such as security, analytics, HR and data recovery, it’s easy for organizations to over spend up front in an effort to offload downstream capital expenditures. But along with large initial costs, this kind of all-or-nothing strategy ignores the need for skillful integration. Just because cloud services offer new features and demonstrable benefits doesn’t guarantee instant employee adoption and zero issues with legacy systems.
Here, managing cloud spend comes down to identifying key corporate requirements, investing small and then building out the cloud as needed.
Another cloud cost issue is sprawl. With resources easy to spin up, access and utilize, staff may forget to close current sessions or spawn multiple fresh copies rather than cleaning up their virtual mess. Meanwhile, the rise of shadow IT introduces security challenges to the cloud environment.
The solution? Limit sprawl by actively managing cloud access and permissions. Companies are often best-served through partnerships with leading cloud security providers who can help manage identification, authentication and access, thus reducing unapproved and unnoticed resource consumption.
Doing everything yourself is costly. Expert IT staff command substantial rates — and rightly so — but if they’re tasked with handling every aspect of cloud management, savings can quickly dry up, as hardware costs are replaced with high-tech labor. Thanks to emerging automation and cognition services, however, it’s now possible to offload data-driven, repetitive tasks into the cloud itself. This offers three key benefits:
- Lower overhead: Automated, intelligent processes don’t cost as much as full-time equivalent salaries. In addition, IT staff are free to pursue other line-of-business goals instead of babysitting cloud services.
- Reduced error: Humans are ill-suited for high-density data entry tasks. By offloading these tasks to automated processes, it’s possible to both increase speed and reduce total error rates.
- Prime position: Cloud is just the beginning. From artificial intelligence to the Internet of Things, smart devices to virtual reality, there’s a tech revolution underway. Adopting automated processes gives organizations room to adopt new technologies and stay ahead of the curve.
It’s hard to know if your organization is paying too much or too little for managed cloud services. Why? Because they lack two key pieces of data: standard cloud costs for specific services and end-user data about how these services are consumed. Here, managing costs demands better monitoring solutions — typically, these are SaaS products that can be configured to record resource and spend data and then report it to IT admins and CIOs. Combine this data with the developing standardization of cloud technologies, and companies gain a much clearer picture of how much they’re spending, where and what they can do to limit costs.
The cloud market is growing. For many companies, however, this means out-of-hand cloud spending that doesn’t produce the expected ROI. Managing costs means keeping cloud simple, limiting total access, increasing automation and investing in observation.