In the world of cloud computing, the idea of “cloud waste” is under-discussed. In fact, many of us may have never heard of it before. Still, cloud waste is a major challenge for any company consuming cloud services, be it a small business or a Fortune 500 enterprise. Here’s why.
What Is Cloud Waste?
Cloud waste refers to unused and idle computer resources that a company is paying for – but not consuming. As more companies opt to move their IT infrastructure and applications to the cloud, the phenomenon is mushrooming.
While estimates about the impact of cloud waste vary, the numbers are staggering. According to ParkMyCloud, cloud waste will result in business losses of $14.1 billion in 2019 alone. As the cloud becomes more prevalent, this number will only grow.
The same study found that about 40% of all cloud development environments are “oversized”. They have more computing capacity than is required for the usage they are meant for – resulting in cloud waste. The typical cloud system actually utilizes only 4.9% of available CPU in average. This clearly indicates that many companies may be overestimating the cloud resources they actually need.
What Are the Reasons for Cloud Waste?
Here are the most important reasons and factors behind high levels of cloud waste at the moment.
Idle resources are a serious problem when it comes to the cloud. This happens because companies build or purchase cloud services based on their maximum computing load, not the actual computing load.
In other words, companies are spending to get 100% of the resources they would be using at peak load. In reality, they are constantly using 5% of the overall processing power of their cloud infrastructure. And we can extend this observation to storage, memory, network, and even software licenses.
Development companies are a good example to illustrate the idle resource case. Once an app has been released, DevOps teams may keep both test and development environments running, even if they are no longer needed. These wasted resources keep consuming processing, storage, memory and network capacity, at the expense of other projects they could have been reallocated to.
With inefficient management or monitoring, a company will spend more money trying to get more resources, instead of reusing idle infrastructure.
Let’s make it clear. If you are a cloud provider, you may need to keep an oversized infrastructure, based on your customer usage forecasts. This is because you’d rather be able to respond to the demand than to be short in capacity. The issue is, if you don’t have any plan to get more customers or upsell to your current customer base, you will be losing money.
Now, to cloud customers, if your servers are just too big for your company, you are wasting money. Again, this is about your growth forecast. Too many companies just pick an option that provides them with enough capacity over the next 2 years or more, hoping to grow into it. Why spend on an oversized infrastructure if you already know your average consumption for the upcoming 12 months? This causes cloud waste. To fully benefit from the cloud, consider growing slowly and adding capacity gradually.
So many companies invest in a single, centralized cloud, be it private or public. They concentrate all their IT resources in a single data center.
For private clouds, many IT managers get trapped into providing high-grade infrastructure. They will invest into costly equipment such as server blades, SANs (storage area networks), prime network equipment, state-of-the-art virtualization software, etc. This not only increases the costs for the company, but also increases the risk of getting an oversized infrastructure.
Another issue is, with employees and customers accessing the cloud services from different locations and for different purposes, companies have to deal with peak loads. When they have a single data center, they may choose to boost the infrastructure capacity to handle peak loads on all cloud services at a time. This may sound wise, but it leads to cloud waste.
How to Avoid Cloud Waste in a Company?
So, how can companies deal with cloud waste? Here are a few simple, actionable methods that have proven to be effective.
Consider Distributed Computing
Distributed computing, also known as fog computing, allows to distribute computing loads more evenly across multiple, geographically-distinct data centers.
In the case of a company with multiple branches all over a region, country or continent, it will help serve end users from a local infrastructure. Using maximum capacity on each one, companies can avoid excessive idle time and cloud waste.
Stop Paying for More Capacity and Services than Needed
Companies have to be realistic about their capacity needs. They need to master their resource usage over the week, month and year. They should find ways to identify and reuse idle capacity, avoiding “overbuying” cloud computing resources.
Also, companies should make sure they understand the needs of the developers, IT teams, and end users altogether. We have seen too many cases where different teams in a company use different tools for the same purpose. For instance, a company will pay for G Suite and Office 365 at the same time for productivity purposes. Choosing to stick with one tool or set of tools that serves all needs will definitely help lower costs.
Run Only the Necessary Resources
Spin down unused development environments, track the resources you’re using, and keep an eye on how much idle CPU time and unused storage you have.
Make necessary adjustments as required to minimize cloud waste.
Make a list of your cloud services, their costs, their usage, and make sure you update that information on a regular basis. Most cloud platforms come with a dashboard that give you a comprehensive view of your services.
Audit your cloud usage regularly to get a realistic understanding of the resources required for your company, and to eliminate unused platforms and systems.
Use Auto-Scaling Features
Intelligent platforms allow resource auto-scaling. They ensure more capacity is automatically allocated during a peak load, and released when it is over.
Sometimes, the option is available, but not activated. Check your platform.
Save on Costs (and Go Green!) by Mitigating Cloud Waste
The convenience and abstract nature of the cloud can make it easy to forget how much you are really spending. But, cloud waste is not a myth. Any company that wants to reach success needs to save on costs. Controlling cloud usage is a great way to achieve that goal.
Beyond cost management is another aspect: energy consumption. At the foundation of any IT service is electricity. Through more cyclones, harsh winters, heatwaves, hurricanes and similar weather disasters, Mother Earth has been reminding us of how climate change is affecting her. By shutting down cloud services that we do not use, we are helping decrease energy consumption, thus saving our planet and giving ourselves a future.
If you are looking for a solution that offers audit, distributed computing and auto-scaling features, give us a shout! We will be happy to introduce you to our intelligent platform that serves your cloud and edge needs end to end.