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Cloud Services / DevOps

Is Cloud Waste Inevitable as Companies Move to the Cloud?

Cloud waste is proving to be a major obstacle for technical and business decision makers. Infrastructure automation tools can help.
Oct 21st, 2020 12:53pm by
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HashiCorp sponsored this post.

Meghan Liese
Meghan is the Director of Product Marketing for Terraform at HashiCorp.

Cloud waste is proving to be a major obstacle for technical and business decision-makers.

In 2020, companies will waste over $17 billion in cloud spend on idle and excess resources, according to Many organizations are finding that as much as 40% of their cloud spend is sunken into over-provisioned and unused infrastructure.

Public cloud adoption started with the idea of making employees more productive, agile and able to move faster. But for every benefit companies are reaping from cloud adoption, they’re also facing the long-term downside of an unpredictable business model — where cloud spend grows exponentially and becomes a risk to the organization.

A Snowball of Unexpected Costs

A nearly infinite volume of on-demand resources, provisioned frequently by many end-users and across multicloud environments, combine to form a snowball of unexpected and wasteful costs. Research suggests that nearly 45% of the enterprise cloud budget is spent on non-production resources, which are almost exclusively used during a 40-hour workweek. And since they don’t need to run 24/7, it means that more than 75% of the time those resources sit idle but are still paid for.

Wasted costs frequently arise when organizations provision infrastructure beyond what they actually need; much like buying a Ferrari to go to the park when all you need is a bike. Poorly monitored developers contribute to the problem by failing to de-provision software or notify ops once they finish a project. Idle resources, such as infrastructure provisioned outside of business hours, are a third common source of excessive costs.

These three sources of cloud waste are easy to understand, which begs the question: why do organizations fail to reduce cloud waste?

Control Issues Lead to Excess Cloud Waste

Cloud waste is a major trend in conversations and at the front of most IT leaders’ minds. Yet, organizations struggle to reduce cloud waste due to three primary reasons:

  • Cloud offers on-demand provisioning, so anyone can spend company money in the cloud without central tracking.
  • Lack of enforcement around provisioning practices. Companies lack the ability to say, “No, developer, you cannot choose the premium instances for your development phase.”
  • Organizations have limited visibility and tracking to de-provision resources outside of business hours for non-production workloads, or clean up resources once they have passed their time-to-live (TTL).

Poor governance over cloud provisioning is a common theme with each of these scenarios and addressing it requires a solution for overseeing and controlling cloud costs at a more holistic, enterprise-wide level.

Plugging the Leak

Reducing cloud waste requires systematic management from the beginning. While some organizations choose to perform this arduous task manually, others look to automate cloud provisioning, compliance and management through purpose-built cloud infrastructure automation software.

Cloud infrastructure automation comprises three primary components:

  1. Collaborative infrastructure as code; which provides a consistent approach to define resources, automate the creation of those resources, and then standardize and approve code as reusable components (modules).
  2. Multicloud management; focuses on the provisioning, governance, compliance and operational consistency of resources across multiple providers.
  3. Self-service infrastructure; enables end users to provision the infrastructure they need, within the guardrails set by central IT and maintaining an accurate record of the infrastructure when thousands of people are provisioning.

In addition to standardizing and simplifying infrastructure provisioning, perhaps the biggest advantage to automation solutions is the ability to also automatically de-provision unused or idle resources, without having to schedule reminders or tasks for team members to do it manually.

Putting Systematic Controls in Place

Automating IT infrastructure is a key element to reining in runaway costs that significantly impact profitability and competitiveness. But not all infrastructure self-service and automation tools are created the same.

When evaluating options, look for solutions that support your cost optimization strategy and include:

  • Reusable infrastructure as code. Provide a way for Cloud operations to create and publish pre-validated and approved templates, using infrastructure as code, that help them begin with a cost-minded infrastructure.
  • Multicloud. Support of multicloud capabilities and a cost management approach that can be applied to any cloud or infrastructure.
  • Automate guardrail enforcement. Tools that automate enforcement of provisioning guardrails across your entire environment, for operational consistency aligned to your budgets and goals.
  • Visibility and tracking. Choose a solution that features a real-time, centralized view of infrastructure and provides the ability to log audits and clean up unused or orphaned parts.

Business Value through Cloud Control

Business and IT leaders are increasingly adopting infrastructure-as-software tools, as they struggle with effectively managing and controlling their cloud spend. They realize that reining in excessive cloud costs is an essential step in their company’s cloud adoption journey and continued digital transformation efforts.

Infrastructure automation tools, like HashiCorp Terraform Cloud, help organizations accelerate their cloud adoption journey while eliminating unnecessary expenditures and inconsistent provisioning practices, to significantly reduce operating costs and improve efficiency.

The technology helps them stay within budget to gain much-needed wiggle room and more options for optimizing cloud spend, while accelerating their ability to spin up new projects that bring value to the business and help chart a course for long-term, sustainable growth and profitability.

Feature image via Pixabay.

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