How Much Does a Cloud Cost? How Can You Calculate an Accurate Estimate?

A key benefit of using cloud computing is transforming capital expenses into operational expenses. This, however, means it’s important to have good estimates of the cloud expenses before you commit to the change.

Recently a customer needed help identifying what it would cost to run an application on the cloud. Here’s what we did to help them, which may be of interest to you as well.

First, we ran our product Snapshot to collect the application parameters of configuration, resource utilization and to map all dependencies. This chart shows all of these items

Then we used our cloud readiness analyzer to determine the best-fit vendor templates for that application based on resource consumption. In this chart, the green dot denotes the template that is the best fit for the application and its resource requirements.

This process also helps determine templates for hybrid clouds. Now, we can determine the costs for the application by summing the template costs.

This method also works well for multiple applications or workloads. In addition, the dependency mapping shows you how to spread workloads across multiple clouds.

With the accurate, estimate produced from this process, you are positioned to track actual costs versus your estimate. You will quickly catch any errors or pricing changes, and you’ll avoid any unpleasant surprises

If you or one of your customers has a similar need and would like to learn more, I’m happy to help with a quick consultation or even a free demo of Snapshot.

One-Third of Cloud Migration Projects Fail – Don’t Become a Statistic

“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” – Thomas Edison

With apologies to Mr. Edison, in today’s world of rapid change and the high cost of technology enhancements, time is of the essence and the cost of repeat trial and error too great to leave to chance.

In the rush to modernize and migrate to the cloud, many companies do not look inward to figure out what they really need in a cloud solution. They also fail to ask critical questions of their cloud provider about concepts such as scalability, capacity, and the complexities and risks involved in moving large data sets. As a result, they end up overpaying for a solution that doesn’t work for their business.

Statistics indicate that one out of every three cloud projects fail! There are, however, a number of concrete ways to increase your cloud readiness and rate of success. Most of these steps should be taken BEFORE you decide on a cloud vendor. In fact, working through these decisions will help you make a better decision about which cloud vendor and solution is best for your company.

#1 Determine Your Goals

First, it’s important to decide what goal you are trying to accomplish. This will help you determine your migration approach.

Is your main objective to save money? Or are you more interested in a more secure environment? Or, do you hope that cloud migration will afford greater accessibility or scalability? Do you think the cloud may offer a more robust environment and faster system performance?

Clarify and prioritize your objectives, so you can make decisions about the right cloud solution to achieve them.

#2 Evaluate Your Organization’s Data, Capacity & Dependencies

Overprovisioning is one of the biggest mistakes companies make when migrating to the cloud. Some organizations believe that it will be easier to simply move all their existing server data and applications to the new cloud platform.

However, their system may include significant unused disk space or content (redundant, obsolete, or trivial) that should be discarded instead of moved. Also, keeping out-of-date software may lead to security problems and/or availability issues down the road.

Make sure to compile an accurate inventory of applications and hardware, so you know exactly what you have, and double check the list for completeness. You should also map out how your hardware and software are linked together. This diagram will highlight any dependencies that may exist and indicate limits that may require accommodation.

Properly counting, mapping, and analyzing your technical architecture and data can help you optimize your storage, right-size the cloud environment, and increase security — leading to significant cost savings and greater feasibility.

#3 Understand the Pros & Cons of Different Cloud Solutions

Each cloud model (public, private, and hybrid) comes with its own pros and cons, and your specific infrastructure and configuration will work differently with each one.

Public clouds offer easy scalability but are usual less secure than private ones. On the other hand, while private clouds offer greater control and security, the burden for maintenance falls on the organization. Hybrid cloud services offer benefits and drawbacks from both sides.

#4 Choose a Cloud Vendor That Understands Your Industry & Business

You should also know your current application consumption as that is how many cloud vendors base their costs.

Organizations should consider choosing a cloud provider that is familiar with their specific business and industry needs, as the vendor may be better equipped to support their performance requirements and help them remain in compliance with regulations.

Having a list of questions on hand before making your decision will help you avoid surprises down the road. For example:

  • Can the vendor support the configuration templates you want to use?
  • Will you need single or multiple cloud solutions?
  • What are the vendor’s backup/disaster recovery constraints?
  • What are their legal location requirements?

Basing a cloud decision only on the initial cost of the service is short sighted. It’s important to evaluate all aspects of the different pricing structures, as some could potentially lead to hidden costs over time.

#5 Use an Outside Vendor to Identify the Right Cloud Service for Your Business

Most organizations don’t have the internal tools to get a full picture of their server workload utilization statistics or to analyze their hardware and software configuration data. They also don’t have an automated way to map their ideal configuration to various cloud platforms.

Establishing a partnership with an unbiased third party can help you choose wisely and get the cloud resources you need. The right outside vendor can allow your company to effectively get the information needed to choose the most suitable service.

Trial and error may have been a critical factor leading to the invention of the lightbulb, but when tools and services exist to take the guesswork out of cloud migration, go ahead and take advantage of them.

If you’d like to secure your company’s chance of cloud migration success, contact me to schedule a free, 10-minute demo of our ISI Snapshot product.

How to Avoid the 4 Biggest Pitfalls of Cloud Migration Planning

The corporate equivalent of slasher movies, horror stories abound in which the rush to get a cloud solution up and running results in rampant mistakes, and organizations that are shocked when they receive their first cloud bill.

Trial and error are often accepted parts of technology development and innovation, however when it comes to cloud migration, the considerable potential for lost data, time, and money, requires a much more efficiently planned approach.

Many potential cloud customers aren’t aware of what they need to do to prepare for cloud migration. They often depend on their cloud suppliers to tell them what they need, without having a thorough understanding of those needs.

While having a dependable, trustworthy cloud provider offers multiple benefits, we all know that ignorance is rarely bliss in technology matters, and more than that, ignorance wastes time, money, and resources. Savvy cloud customers must know and understand these potential pitfalls of cloud migration planning to ensure a smooth and cost-effective transition.

  • Organizations often underestimate or don’t know the full scope of the configuration to be analyzed. 

When migrating servers to the cloud, it’s critical to have a complete picture of the organization’s current infrastructure and server inventory.  Without this information, it is easy to miss things that could lead to security risks and incomplete migrations.

A recent client of ours thought they had approximately 250 servers. They asked us to scan their several million IP addresses using our ISI Snapshot tool. We found they had hundreds more servers than estimated. Without this knowledge, the cloud provider could not have completed the migration without delays and costly rework.

  • They don’t know the current workload utilization: how much storage, CPU, RAM, and data transfer they consume.

In any data center migration, organizations need to know where they currently stand in terms of the types of the operating systems and network connectivity, how many disks are associated with each server, what applications are running on them, and what data they need to move or trash. This workload utilization information is critical to determining the resource levels or capacity needed for a successful migration.

Given the data-intensive requirements of monitoring the amount of capacity used by servers in real time, especially when a company employs thousands of servers, organizations often don’t have this essential capacity and data information readily available.

How does this information impact migrations? If an organization requests too much capacity, they will pay for capabilities they do not need. If they request too little, their applications could max out and shut down.

Each cloud provider uses their own unique methods for tracking usage and performance – and charges – so employing the proper tools and knowledge to right-size the virtual server environment pays off in saved resources and risk reduction.

  •   They are unaware of all the server and databases dependencies that exist – which applications are using which resources.

Organizations need to ask themselves, “If we remove an application, how many servers will stop functioning? Which computers are communicating with which other computers?” Identifying these dependencies ensures that all components of an application are noted to avoid partial migrations, poor placement of application components across cloud locations, and inefficient staging of the migration.

Sometimes organizations manually draw their application and server dependencies, using tools like Visio to map their current architecture. Unfortunately, the resulting map quickly becomes outdated, may not accurately reflect the configuration management procedures, and easily leads to an incomplete picture.

The right software tools can capture all dependencies and map them graphically to give companies a clear picture of what they have and what they need.

  • They don’t know how to determine what cloud resources the business really needs for optimal efficiency and how to map that to the cloud vendor’s offerings.

It’s important to assess holistically how the organization’s environment might fit into the cloud. From capacity needs to application dependencies – each factor impacts how the migration should occur.

For example, the migration may need to be done in stages, or the cloud migration team might need to move less complex applications first.  Cost reduction is one of the key benefits of moving to the cloud. If the organization isn’t selecting the right cloud resources to optimize usage and costs, it’s a wasted effort.

Working with tools that precisely model an organization’s current data center or servers in the cloud ensures the best possible transition to the cloud. ISI software analytic tools and services simplify, speed, and reduce errors in cloud migration and set organizations up for success as they transition to any one of multiple cloud environments.

To see how ISI’s Cloud Readiness solution works, and to avoid becoming a cautionary tale, please contact me to schedule a 10-minute demonstration.