Cloud cost optimisation – where do businesses begin? (Guest blog from NTT Data)
Author: Jonathan Wood, Senior Director Cloud Solutions, NTT Data UK&I
Cloud services have witnessed a steady increase in recent years, pushed further forward during the pandemic. 82% of decision makers state that they had to increase their use of the cloud in direct response to the Covid-19 outbreak, and while the current European cloud market is worth €53bn, there is a near-tenfold increase predicted in the next five years.
Most organisations have already come a long way on their cloud journey. However, there are still many businesses at risk of not making the most of their cloud investments. Specifically, there are many businesses that have huge cloud costs that continue to rise, yet they have very little understanding of why, or how to reduce them.
Many businesses are on the right track but need to consider if they’re getting the most out of their current investments. At NTT DATA, we talk to a range of businesses about this, and it’s clear there are areas of cloud that need more clarity and efficiency. Additionally, organisations need to know what they’re paying for and why.
From our point of view, it’s never too late, or too early, to build a proper cloud strategy. It’s one of the best investments a modern business can make, particularly under the lens of the current economic outlook.
It’s never too late, or too early, to build a proper cloud strategy, optimise costs, and increase agility.
Implementing cloud cost optimisation
Deployed properly, cloud technology is a huge asset, sitting at the heart of digital transformation. It’s an area we’ve worked in for a long time, and we’ve identified what we feel are the five steps to cloud success. The idea here is to spot potential risks and pinpoint the areas where redundancy can be built into an organisation’s cloud infrastructure, should the world turn on its head again.
Firstly, it’s important to develop a proper cloud strategy. It’s easier to plan this than retrofit it, but either way, key questions include how ready is the business in question for a cloud-based way of working, does it have the right skills, and what’s the business case for it? They’re not tricky questions to answer most of the time, but we’d suggest they do need to be asked.
Once an organisation knows what it needs and wants the cloud for, then it’s a case of putting the right foundations in place. Who are the providers that provide the best fit for the business? What are the basic tools that employees need to wrap their heads around? Then, there’s the need to ensure those tools are properly integrated with a thought-through infrastructure, and crucially, introduce governance at this early stage.
Thirdly, it’s important to design a cloud infrastructure that can scale and adapt. Agility is vital here, and that’s why we look towards hybrid and multi-cloud solutions more and more, with best security practices. We also recommend trying to avoid vendor lock-in: three providers control the bulk of the cloud provider marketplace, and that’s both unhealthy, and leaves organisations nervous about changing once they’ve set everything up. Build as much flexibility from day one if possible.
Then, point four, we’re back to governance. Factors here include putting a self-service strategy in place, applying policies, and proper costs overview. An organisation should be clear about what it’s paying for, and it’s worth adopting a FinOps approach to cost management.
Finally, it is important to strive for operational excellence. Use the cloud to boost the business, and its output. We work with organisations to help them automate and orchestrate their workloads, to monitor and optimise their consumption - which is increasingly important as the world becomes more aware of sustainability - and then to implement proper multi-cloud management.
A top-down approach
The last part of this particular jigsaw is making sure there’s transparency built in, via proper reporting and real-time dashboards. Without this, it’s impossible to accurately measure and evaluate the cost and value of cloud services, and in turn, to spot where optimisations and savings can be made.
With these tools in place organisations can nimbly implement changes, accelerate innovation, and gain deep, meaningful and speedy insights into the impact of any alterations.
However, none of this works properly if the leadership of the organisation in question isn’t fully bought in. Cloud is an area of business where the drive has to come from the top, and not be left to filter upwards. For cloud cost optimisation to work, it has to be considered in the context of the bigger picture for an organisation, starting in the C-suite.
Your future cloud
The unique circumstances of the last two years have seen some organisations invest in cloud technologies without a clear idea of just what they want to achieve, and in turn, how cloud services can help them meet their goals.
Well planned cloud strategies are transformative to optimising costs, and increasing agility. Furthermore, it also means costs are aligned with the goals of the business concerned, and services are therefore far more accurately targeted.
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