Shock and Dismay: Cloud Cost Strategy

For half of the nation, it has been a day of shock and dismay. It may be that way for a while now. In the meantime, as you journey to the hybrid cloud, you need to get a handle on costs—and not just the costs of migrating to the cloud, but also those associated with training, documentation, maintaining institutional knowledge, data management, legal, and development. This includes the raw costs of the service on a per-day, -hour, or -minute basis, or by a megabyte or gigabit measurement, whichever the cloud supports. How do you begin to get a handle on costs? It is easy to say the cloud will be cheaper, but proving it is another matter. You should not be in shock or dismay when you see your cloud bill.

First, let’s handle people costs. As with virtualization, there is a fear that moving to the cloud will cost people their jobs. This is just not true. The cloud is a new paradigm for managing workloads. There is a need for more automation and orchestration, and for improved monitoring and data protection. Those are all tasks that take people to do. We will need more people for the hybrid cloud. Job descriptions will shift. Data management is one such job.

Recently, I came across a unique diagram that outlined AWS costs. Finding the costs for Amazon Web Services is pretty simple (, as Amazon’s pricing is very clear. However, some pricing is based on egress, not ingress, of data. Other pricing depends on availability zones, etc. It is best to diagram out your usage of the cloud and assign costs to everything, get it reviewed by the cloud provider, and then update based on your cloud usage as it happens. There are a number of services that will watch various aspects of cloud pricing, but I have yet to see one that takes all aspects of any given cloud in hand. Most concentrate on compute, which is the major cost unless you are moving a lot of data around, and using other services such as Lambda, RDS, etc.

However, there is also the cost of managing your hybrid cloud. New tooling is required for the network operations center, security operations center, operations, developers, and management—pretty much all aspects of IT and the business. These new tools may be adjuncts to existing tools, but they also may be entirely new tools. These are technological costs, and they are easy to quantify.

Business costs, on the other hand, are not as easy to quantify. We can suggest some areas that need to be involved, but these are suggestions that may not be exact for all enterprises. There are new contracts to review, so legal is involved. Compliance is also involved, as data is now stored elsewhere. Are you prepared for the costs of doing new forms of audits? The whole C-suite is involved in these costs, as they also learn about the hybrid cloud. They’ll read about many who went to the cloud with costs that were out of control. If costs are not under control and do not respond to the business, then the hybrid cloud is just a dream, not reality where you end up in a state of shock and dismay.

Consider other costs outside the immediate use of the cloud, such as costs of perceived or real downtime due to cloud outages. Did you figure the use of multiple clouds or availability zones into your costs and architectures to account for this downtime? Perceived outages could be due to the application being misconfigured for use within the cloud. If you cannot access the application, it is, in effect, down. How is the application monitored?

There are countless known and unknown costs to using a hybrid cloud—or any IT infrastructure, cloud or not. Are you ready to move forward and discover those costs? To become the hero by shaving costs where you can? Spend as much as you need, but be aware that some ways of doing things in the cloud are more costly than others.

This calls for a good strategy and a complete understanding of all cloud and data center costs associated with your business, applications, and data. Are you ready? If you are already using the cloud, can you refactor to alleviate some costs?


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