Where to Find Savings in Your Cloud or Data Center Environment

Part 1 of our 2-part series on Driving Efficiency through Infrastructure Optimization. Read Part 2, “How to Add to Your IT Environment without Adding Costs.” 

For IT departments, the mandate to do more with less and get the most out of technology investments isn’t new. But today there’s much more pressure to find and seize immediate opportunities to cut costs.

In addition to rationalizing software and restructuring contracts, on-premise data center and public cloud infrastructure are two high impact areas for potential short-term savings.

There are some common challenges, however. In the cloud, lack of visibility and formal governance practices makes it harder to learn where and how to find savings. In the data center, the need to avoid new capital expenditures makes it necessary to free up existing capacity to support new projects.

In fact, cloud consuming organizations waste an average of 30% of their cloud spend due to redundant resources (Source: RightScale). At the same time, inactive data accounts for 50% of total storage capacity, taking up valuable space (Source: NetApp).

The best options for making short-term financial impact in the infrastructure environment are:

  • Reducing cloud costs by improving management and visibility
  • Freeing up data center compute and storage capacity to avoid future costs

Below, we go deeper into each of these cost saving opportunities.

Reducing Cloud Costs through Improved Management and Visibility

Without careful management, public cloud infrastructure costs can get out of control.

Because organizations can procure and consume public cloud resources much easier than their on-premise counterparts, losing track of workloads and associated spend is a common problem.

Redundant resources, the absence of adequate monitoring tools and lack of control over who initiates or decommissions workloads in the cloud all contribute to over-spend.

The Flexera State of the Cloud Report for 2020 found that 79% of those surveyed cited managing costs as a top cloud challenge, second only to security.  The report also found that enterprise companies overspent their cloud budgets by 23% on average in 2019.

To right-size public cloud infrastructure and drive cost efficiency, consider the following actions:

  • Find and remove overprovisioned or idle resources: Identifying and reviewing accounts with low I/O activity helps you determine which resources could be decommissioned with minimal impact to the business.
  • Implement and enforce formal cloud governance: A formal cloud governance policy helps you better understand the structure of cloud costs, establish accountability and control access and decision-making around cloud resources.
  • Adopt a cloud management platform: A cloud management platform helps enhance visibility into your public cloud environment to promote better forecasting for cloud budgets based on real-time usage. Further categorizing cloud instances by assigning metadata tags related to billing, environments, applicable compliance requirements and more allows IT teams to track usage and associated cost across cloud instances, even in a hybrid or multicloud environment. IT can then augment and automate tagging using cloud native tools for policy enforcement. Together, these ensure that utilization meets requirements while reducing financial risk.
  • Optimize cloud storage: As with on-premise infrastructure, automating the categorization and storage of active and inactive data into performance and capacity tiers in the cloud helps drive further efficiency.
  • Implement automated scaling: Putting automated scaling in place allows you to scale up resources when needed and scale down the rest of the time. This replaces the need to accommodate maximum utilization, which is often a needless expense.
  • Use reserved versus on-demand instances: The leading public cloud providers offer discounts to customers for reserving instances for anticipated future needs in advance rather than pay higher rates for on-demand usage.

Looking to learn more about managing in the cloud? Get the guide

Freeing Up Data Center Resources to Avoid Costs

Compared with adding new usage-based public cloud resources, the cost to continue operating an owned data center is often negligible. However, when capacity isn’t optimized for efficiency, the result is additional capital expenditures when the time comes to support new applications or projects.

For instance, many organizations over-provision data center hardware to avoid the problem of running short of capacity within their virtualized infrastructure. Meanwhile, inactive data stored on-premises takes up valuable storage resources that could be tapped for other initiatives.

To free up on-premise infrastructure and avoid unnecessary future spend, we recommend these steps:

  • Optimize virtual machine resources: Optimizing workload placements and right-sizing VM allocations addresses inefficiencies by addressing risk and capacity waste. This increases efficiency by reclaiming resources from over-sized Virtual Machines (VMs). At the same time, increasing VM density by rebalancing VMs helps to safely address workload requirements and avoid resource contention.
  • Optimize on-premise storage: While not a direct cost reduction, optimizing on-premise storage allows you to extend the life of existing storage and defer capital costs. Tiering storage to the cloud automates the categorization of active and inactive data. By moving inactive data to a lower-cost cloud storage provider, you can free up on-premise capacity for new projects and pay for additional storage at a lower monthly rate.

Next Steps to Finding Cost Savings in Your Environment

Finding short-term opportunities and immediate steps to reduce infrastructure spending may require the help of an experienced and specialized solutions provider like Softchoice.

We offer the following solutions to assist organizations like yours to find and take advantage of these savings opportunities.

  • Cloud Cost Assessment: Analyze your existing public cloud workloads to uncover immediate cost-savings opportunities and improve visibility into cloud cost drivers.
  • Data Center Technology Review: Pinpoint opportunities to optimize infrastructure with the goal of freeing up existing capacity to offset future capital expenses. The review targets server, storage, virtualization, hybrid cloud, backup and file systems.
  • Cloud Data Tiering Accelerator: Identify inactive data stored on-premise that could be moved to lower-cost public cloud storage to free up on-premises capacity.

Our team of licensing and technology vendor experts are ready to help you find efficiencies wherever you are in your journey from response to recovery.

Looking for help to find and address cost savings opportunities in your IT environment?

Connect with an Expert.

The Sneaky Costs of End Of Life Cycle Servers

 

Three years ago, a friend of mine got caught up in the homeownership dream. He spent 18 months saving the least amount he needed to buy a condo. While he was successful in purchasing his first property, he soon discovered the “cons” of being a homeowner.

The condo came with many flaws that he wasn’t financially ready to take on. After 8 months of appliance fixes and breakdowns, and a condo fee increase, he had to sell his place. I wouldn’t say this was a failed attempt at owning a property. Rather, it’s a lesson: Sometimes you shouldn’t rush things. [Read more…]

Keeping up with the cloud: Embracing a more dynamic data center

Keeping up with the cloud: Embracing a more dynamic data center

Increased adoption of virtualization over the past decade and a recent boost in cloud adoption is causing data centers to evolve at an unprecedented pace.

“The drive to the cloud or hybrid IT changes the dynamic of the data center,” says Chris Martin, Senior Systems Engineer at Softchoice. “Where application data resides and where applications are hosted are very different today than five years ago.”

“And that’s changing traffic in the data center and now you need to ask, ‘How do I support that as an IT organization?’”

This blog is second in a three-part Cisco ‘Ask an Expert’ series looking at how hybrid IT is influencing the technology topics of the network, data center, and unified communications. We asked Martin to outline the issues and trends that are reshaping the face of data centers and how organizations can better support them today.

What are the trends impacting data centers today?

There’s a lot of consolidation. Virtualization has driven a lot of it, from multiple dedicated computers for each application down to just a single server running them all. And now even that is being stretched between cloud, or multiple data centers or even just various nodes for storage. The architecture has changed so much over the past few years.

Technology trends like big data, analytics, the IoT (the Internet of Things) each have their own unique impact on the data center as well. As we connect more and more devices we create more and more data, and that leads to increased storage requirements. For companies with IoT or big data initiatives, how the data center is designed and deployed is changing.

How can IT better keep up with this changing face of the data center and support it?

One big change is around the expectation of availability created by the cloud, and how fast you can turn IT resources up and down. To be cost effective, organizations need to turn their data centers into a private cloud, where they can treat applications similarly whether on or off premise. The way that happens is through automation, whether it’s software-defined networking (SDN) or the orchestration of VMware applications.

Basically, it comes down to needing to do more with less. You need to automate, streamline, and bring in orchestration technologies to help manage that. You also need architectures, vendors, and equipment that are very open in order to support that process.

It’s a long migration roadmap, but even as you take small steps towards it, you want to keep the end goal in sight. This is where we help a lot of customers by identifying where they are today and how they can move their networks into the required architecture, such as SDN. We then assist with implementation, and have the ability, through Keystone Managed Services, to support that architecture.

How can organizations better ready their data centers to take advantage of things like IoT and big data?

Don’t overlook the importance of the network. It’s always a critical part of the data center, even if traffic stays within it. It’s not just performance that is crucial, but also security.

Make sure the network is designed to support the different architectures involved and aligns with the technology initiatives being launched.

It’s like a town. Think of the network as the roads. Every town is different and is going to have their own roadmaps and requirements based on size and throughput and requirements. Like a town, you’re going to have standardization and notable things true of all data centers, but where and how they happen are different for each.
What key things need to be asked when evaluating data center solutions?

One of the most important considerations you must ask yourself is, how do I manage this? What strain is this new piece of equipment going to put on my administrators?

Performance is always the number one thing to look at. The number two consideration is how easily it can be managed. Number three is understanding what support options exist. Number four is keeping in mind the business initiatives and what is needed to complete them. And, moving towards them.

Having a high degree of support from vendors and partners is important. With any solution, you need to consider how hard it is to replace an administrator when you lose them.
Remember the network is key. You could have the best data center technology in the world, but if you don’t have the right technology connecting it everyone is going to suffer. The network is the lifeblood of the data center.

Ask an Expert Webinar

Want to learn more about the role of the network on the changing face of the data center for the Cisco infrastructure? Join Chris Martin for 30 minutes on January 24th and register for our Ask an Expert Series focused on the data center.