How to avoid wasting money on under-used cloud resources

wasting-money-in-the-cloud

According to the research giant Gartner,  we’ll spend $206.2 billion on the public cloud. That sounds about right. But, at the same time, according to the cloud resource management company ParkMyCloud, we’ll waste up to $14.1 billion in cloud spending. By a ballpark estimate, that means you’re probably wasting 6.8 percent of your IT budget on cloud resources you’re not using. That’s real money bleeding out of your pocket. Not good.

So, what can you do about it? Lots.

According to ParkMyCloud’s estimates there are two major cloud money leaks. The first is idle resources. These are the compute resources you’re paying by the minute, but you’re not actually using. 

You usually find this kind of waste in non-production cloud uses. This includes development, testing, staging, and QA. ParkMyCloud sees about 44 percent of compute spend going to non-production resources. The waste happens when you pay for non-production compute time 24×7, but you only use them 40-hours a week. If you do this, you’re wasting the money you’ve spent for the other 128 hours of the week.

The moral of the story? Check to see if you’re spending for resources that sit idle when your company is at rest.

Don’t assume, however, that resources are sitting idle just because no one is at a desk. For example, if your developers are using a continuous integration/continuous delivery (CI/CD) pipeline there may very well be real work happening even though your programmers are fast asleep.  

Number two with a bullet, by ParkMyCloud’s count, is simply over-provisioning your cloud instances. People, it seems, like to buy more resources than they need. 

I can see that. After all, would you rather have an application gasping along because of resource scarcity or be absolutely sure it will run smoothly because it has all the resources it could ever need? Yeah, I’d probably over-provision too. 

But, we take it too far. ParkMyCloud has found that about 40 percent of our projects have resources which are oversized by at least one size. It may be worse. In their research, they found the “average of all ‘Average CPU’ readings is an amazing (even to us) 4.9 percent.” Adding insult to injury, this was their own customer base, which were parking their instances when they weren’t being used. Wasting money much? 

But, wait — it may be worse still! 95 percent of their samples were operating at less than 50 percent Average CPU. This means, “if we cut the number of CPUs in half for most of our instances, we would probably still be able to carry our workload.”

I wonder if part of what’s happening here is that we subconsciously assume the public cloud is our hardware. Our old data centers were always running anyway, so no one cared if there was a minimal processor load. The difference, of course, is that on the public cloud, it’s not our hardware. On a cloud, you’re paying for every 60 seconds of computer time, whether you’re using it or not. 

Regardless of the root cause, ParkMyCloud concluded, “server sizing is out of control and instances are tremendously overbuilt … As cool as ‘super sizing’ sounds, the real solution is in rightsizing, and ensuring the instance size and type are better tailored to the actual load.

The solution here is to analyze what’s happening with your jobs. Look at your CPU logs and see just how much–or little it seems–you’re using them. If you’re consistently underutilizing your CPUs, it’s time to shrink your instances down to a reasonable time.

Finally, one waste of cloud resources I see, but ParkMyCloud doesn’t mention, are stone-cold dead zombie cloud jobs. Some of these are cloud instances that started as experiments. Others did real work in their day but their useful life has since came to an end. Too often though no one bothered to shut them down. Mea culpa, I’ve let instances live on for weeks when I should have killed them off the second I was done with them.

Just by following these simple suggestions you can save your company a lot of money. And, besides being a good idea in general, remember one of the big reasons you went to the cloud in the first place was to save money. Won’t it be nice to actually do just that?

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