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5 ways architects can maximize committed cloud spend

Architects need to understand the financial impacts of a cloud strategy. Consider this advice from cloud experts to get the most from your committed spend with cloud providers such as AWS or Microsoft Azure.
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Cloud architecture starts with scaffolding and builds up to cloud infrastructure.

The cloud isn't a cage, as Seth Kenlon writes in 5 tips for architects on managing cloud service provider spending. Openness is an important concept for architects to stress as they work with others in the organization to shape and make the most of cloud strategy.

"Find a cloud service provider that does exactly that: provides a cloud. The platform you run on that cloud and the way you interface with it are up to you and your organization's needs—now and later. Keep the cloud dynamic, and keep it open," Seth notes.

Spending is part of the conversation on cloud strategy, and architects have a role to play here, too. Architects are responsible for designing solutions that suit the customer's (often your own organization) budget.

Understanding budget realities and constraints is crucial within the planning process, as anything architects design impacts the business both functionally and financially.

For architects, cloud costs and how to best handle them are a key concern. We talked to cloud experts to get advice on one reality of cloud budgeting for many IT organizations now: maximizing committed spend.

What is committed cloud spend, and why is it important?

Cloud management programs help provide transparency for organizations to optimize their cloud spending. They also help you build effective long-term strategies that make sense for the IT budget and maintain control over how you tackle business demands. Of course, every spend program is unique to the cloud platform the service is built on.

[ Learn more about 5 things to consider when choosing a managed Kubernetes provider. ]

Often, part of this effort will be committed spend, which is when organizations contract to pay for a certain level of cloud usage over a period of time. It's "use it or lose it" once you commit: You must use up your committed amount by the end of the time period. A smart strategic goal is to use this option to get or gain flexibility in your cloud strategy. For example, you can use that allocation as needed to migrate among products, handle seasonal spikes in demand, optimize software purchases, and more.

5 tips to maximize results from committed cloud spend

Below, cloud experts share a few factors to keep in mind as you build your cloud model in alignment with your budget.

1. Ask whether you need to set spending circuit breakers

"A lot of conversations around cloud spending focus on measuring and forecasting usage. These are definitely important as you grow and need to predict future budget demands. But don't forget the tried and true spending circuit breaker: quotas. By imposing a hard limit on what an end user can provision, you can ensure you don't break the bank on a new cloud project. Just be sure to communicate these quotas ahead of time, and continue to track both usage and return on investment so you can relax the quotas over time."
Evan Stoner, Senior Specialist Solution Architect, Red Hat

[ Learn more about how to modernize your IT with managed cloud services. ]

2. Use the metrics cloud providers can share to show business value

"Open platforms are an open approach to architecting the target environments for cloud workloads and are fundamental to controlling costs and managing spending. Enterprises have the freedom of choice to innovate where they want with open platforms that provide access to relevant cloud services, regardless of the provider. Open platforms also enable the systemic evolution of talent that scales across all underlying environments. Moreover, such platforms are more effective in capturing the metrics used to track the value generated through migration to relevant cloud environments."
E.G. Nadhan, Senior Principal Solution Architect, Red Hat

3. Take advantage of container-related cost optimization

"Managing cloud provider spending starts with good architecture. The promise of the cloud is to reduce costs by offloading your undifferentiated heavy lifting, and realizing that promise requires good design decisions. Of course, there are the typical recommendations like taking advantage of virtual machine (VM) autoscaling and properly matching VM workloads to instance types. A less obvious tip is to design (or refactor) to take advantage of cloud-native technologies. Containers will allow for better resource utilization, and using a container platform will lead to better consistency and apps that are less expensive to deploy and manage."
Jason Dudash, Principal Specialist Solution Architect, Red Hat

4. Figure in the related talent costs

"Keep in mind that your total costs aren't limited to just your cloud bill. Make sure to consider time and effort spent on manual tasks that could be automated, and for the unrealized productivity gains you could get by leveraging managed cloud services."
—Jason Dudash, Principal Specialist Solution Architect, Red Hat

5. Don't forget cost optimization best practices from the cloud service provider

"Architects should also familiarize themselves with the cost optimization guides and tools available from their cloud provider. Those will help with best practices and also often have advice that can be a starting point for planning your strategy and governance."
—Jason Dudash, Principal Specialist Solution Architect, Red Hat

Cloud is more than just IT

Accelerating cloud adoption requires a shift in mindset. The hardest part isn't the technology but getting all the people and processes involved on one accord. Breaking down silos not only between IT and the rest of the organization, including finance and even among IT and operations teams, is essential to succeed in the cloud. A cloud model that doesn't take committed cloud spending into account—and take advantage of the budget you have available—is unlikely to succeed.

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Topics:   Cloud   Resource management   Strategy  
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Marjorie Freeman

Marjorie is the Associate Editor for Enable Architect. More about me

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