How organizations can reap the benefits of cloud, without cloud bill shock
Article written by Matthew Lynn, Director, Cloud Computing, APJ, Akamai
The move to the cloud – which underpins so much of business technology today – is often motivated by an organization’s desire to drive cost reductions, as well as reap its agility and scalability benefits.
While these benefits are real, many organizations have discovered that without the right architecture and governance, the desired cost reductions fail to materialize.
The cost of cloud adoption is fast becoming a challenge for organizations across Asia Pacific to manage, with cloud bills estimated to go up by 30% year-on-year.
This has come into focus over the past year, as organizations have renewed their focus on profits. No longer can organizations satisfy their investors with growth alone. Profitable growth is essential for organizational success.
In December 2022, The Asian Development Bank revised its 2023 economic outlook for APAC downward by 0.3 percentage points from its forecast in September. Compounding these macroeconomic challenges is the rising cloud costs that organizations contend with. According to a study of enterprises by S&P Global Market Intelligence in 2022, more than half of tech buyers surveyed said they had spent more than their allocated public cloud budgets the year before.
As such, business leaders will have to re-evaluate their cloud options as they focus on operational efficiency and cost visibility in the new year. What then is the solution to these emerging challenges, and an organization’s evolving cloud needs while they seek to manage costs?
Here are three considerations for IT and business leaders when they are deciding on their cloud platform:
Benefits of the cloud: Cost transparency and accountability
In this economic climate, affordable pricing is high on the agenda.
Central to keeping costs manageable is a clear and unified view of an organization’s billing and usage. It is crucial for organizations to work with a provider that can organize their data, and provide them with a unified view, enabling them the ability to trace costs and usage information.
This will help provide cost transparency and accountability across the organization, so resources can be scaled quickly, according to real-time business needs.
Financial Operations, or FinOps for short, has been created as a new discipline to help organizations manage the financial challenges of cloud, by bringing together cross-functional teams, including Finance, IT, and DevOps, in a collaborative effort to control costs.
A key factor influencing cloud costs is vendor lock-in. After an initial rush to capture the perceived benefits of cloud, many organizations find themselves beholden to a single provider with significant switching costs. Vendor lock-in presents a key challenge, with many organizations having no choice but to continue upping their cloud spending.
Third-party optimization tools and services can help support a FinOps culture within organizations by providing relevant insights into how and where its cloud budget is being spent. For example, cloud usage insights can help sales teams when they are reviewing quotations for potential and present clients alike. And at the same time, help DevOps teams understand which service features are most in demand, and which are not.
A cloud-smart approach to selecting workloads
Enterprises must seek to align the right workload to the right cloud platform based on their technology and business needs.
Instead of arbitrarily deploying workloads to any available cloud, this means auditing workloads and understanding what they need to run most effectively. This workload-first approach would enable organizations to benefit from a breadth of providers serving multiple needs without worrying about complex processes or high costs.
Another approach to consider is investigating alternative cloud options with a forward-looking view. This would be crucial for IT decision-makers to maintain visibility and autonomy of their organization’s IT direction. As they weigh their options, they should ensure that their chosen cloud offering is able to provide flexibility, with services that can be modified according to a company’s business needs and with an organization charged for only what they eventually consume.
In a multi-cloud environment, this means that enterprises can shop cloud workloads to better predict and optimize the cost of cloud. The right provider will offer enterprises the flexibility to choose the most optimal workloads to host in a multi cloud environment.
Zolvit, a legal tech start-up and India’s largest Governance, Risk, and Compliance service provider, faced a similar challenge of managing their cloud infrastructure across several cloud providers because of the increasing complexity of managing the customer experience and keeping up with cost and maintenance requirements.
A key concern was initially how it could manage its workloads, from development and staging to QE and production, while minimizing deployment times to power, scale, and accelerate these different workloads and applications securely around the globe. With Akamai Cloud Computing, Zolvit is estimated to save close to 30% on their IT expenses and has started to benefit from higher performance delivery per dollar, a sign that developers were more productive in staging environments, deployment, and in ensuring the right amount is being used for the right workloads.
Cloud benefits: prioritizing the developer experience and an open-source framework
While some enterprises may feel locked in with their existing hyperscale clouds, there are also now more open-source technology and tooling options that enable enterprises to build, run and secure applications from the cloud.
Organizations should take a cloud-native view, by selecting tools and processes that operate consistently across multiple providers, as opposed to a platform-native architecture which leverages the proprietary tools of a single cloud provider.
In fact, one of the biggest benefits of these developments is that developers can now move faster as a result – thus speeding up the rate of innovation globally, and in our region. This means that as cloud adoption continues to grow in Asia Pacific, we can expect the speed of innovation to grow at the same time.
Developer productivity is as pivotal to business success in the cloud as core elements like performance, security, cost, service, and global footprint to the edge. With developers often regarded as the engine room of modern digital innovation, it is crucial that cloud resources work for them, and account for their needs of ease of use, simplicity, and programmability from the platforms where they deploy apps.
Findings by Techstrong Research has revealed that the cloud landscape is changing as buyers increasingly put the developer experience on the same footing as core technical and performance capabilities of cloud infrastructure services.
As such, when selecting a cloud provider and solution for the organization, a consideration should be made as to whether the offering is intuitive for a developer’s use. For example, if developer-friendly IaaS and PaaS platforms are offered to make it easy for them to set up a virtual machine or container to build and run applications.
From the cloud to the edge – how organizations can remain fast and agile as they scale globally
In the coming years, as 5G and IoT gains ground, enterprises will have a growing need for a continuum of compute from the cloud to the edge, to be closer to where billions of end users are, and tens of billions of connected devices will be.
However, as cloud becomes critical across every kind of organization in Asia Pacific, so will the complexity and cost of running it. Enterprise IT teams will need to rise to the challenge of meeting a large and growing number of requirements, from application performance to infrastructure scaling to security, data sovereignty, all while managing costs in a challenging economic environment.
Security is also another vital component to any multi-cloud setup, as cybersecurity threats continue to plague all businesses, and the cloud presenting another in-road for cybercriminals to exploit organizations’ weaknesses within their cloud infrastructure.
Ultimately, cloud platforms must have global reach, significant outbound network capacity, and high data security capabilities to keep up with the rapid growth in scale and complexity of enterprise workloads. Organizations should make every effort to ensure that their chosen cloud platform and provider are able to understand and account for these needs, as they continue to navigate their digital future.
The views in the article are that of the author and may not reflect the views of this publication.