August 31, 2020

Conquering The Cloud (Spend) Part 1

Conquering The Cloud (Spend) Part 1

When your company migrates to an Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) architecture it may seem as if your days managing unnecessary IT spend and dealing with security are over. In reality, the problems are just removed from your vision as a system administrator. It's not hard to find the benefits of moving to a fully IaaS or hybrid (on-prem infrastructure and public cloud) architecture, but what about the negatives and how do you manage those detractors?

The Cloud has become one of the largest initiative descriptors of 2020 (and prior years as well). So much so that my first task at Red Hat was to figure out which of our partners were already offering solutions on a public hyperscaler, what their company Cloud Initiative was, and how we at Red Hat could help with these initiatives. It seems as though anywhere you look companies, big and small, are talking about realizing Cloud Initiatives. Offices, mostly virtual ones, are awash with conversations about the cloud, "How can we offer our services on The Cloud?", "Which Cloud providers should we focus on?" Any person who works in an IT environment in any capacity can discuss the Cloud as some level. And without a doubt, they can discuss the benefits. But, those same people cannot discuss the security issues that may come up or how easy it is to have runaway Cloud spending. It's understanding the "Cloud Issues" that will help you and your organization conquer the Cloud.

I want to focus on cloud cost management. The reason for this is it tends to be the largest issue and where you see most of the new Cloud* (pronounced Cloud-Asterisk) companies focusing. Most of the public hyperscalers (AWS, Azure, GCP, etc.) have some sort of Cost Management tool but it really only allows for a reactive approach. You see what your spend was for last month, where that spend was too high and you correct in the hopes that the upcoming month won't be quite as bad.

This is no way to run any sort of organization. Companies want to be proactive and to understand what their spend looks like at the moment and to modify it on the fly. That's where Cost Management Companies like Densify, CloudCheckr, or Apptio come in. These companies all have offerings that provide dashboards, security and compliance checking, and machine learning tools to improve your company's cloud spend. While all of these solutions differ slightly they strive to provide the same outcome, more efficient cloud usage which equates to less cloud spend overall.

As I mentioned all of these companies differ in their delivery but it is important, when selecting a Cloud* partner, to understand what they specifically provide in comparison with what other competitors provide. You wouldn't want to go with a company that can only provide feedback on AWS and Azure when your company uses AWS and GCP. You also want to consider if a Hybrid Cloud strategy is more appropriate for your organization. This will limit your options as many companies are choosing to focus on public cloud spend. If your team currently has the infrastructure onsite and there is no added expense to repurpose the equipment then a Hybrid Cloud architecture can be very helpful with balancing application load and security.

Cloud cost management is an issue that many companies face as they accomplish their Cloud initiatives. In the next post I will discuss the process that Red Hat has gone through in order to determine which Cloud* companies we would like to partner with as well as what we use internally and how you can gain extra benefits for your Red Hat OpenShift Container Platform Cluster.