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5 ways to optimize cloud usage

By Zev Laderman, co-founder and CEO, Newvem, special to Network World
January 04, 2013 03:50 PM ET

Network World - This vendor-written tech primer has been edited by Network World to eliminate product promotion, but readers should note it will likely favor the submitter's approach.

Designing and optimizing an IT environment that responds to demand in real time is one of the biggest challenges facing cloud users given the spikes and troughs in typical requirements. At AWS re:Invent in Las Vegas we met with users from a range of companies and listened to their concerns about usage and identified five main takeaways:

* The thin line between business and operations. In the era of traditional infrastructure management, cloud implementation was seen as another IT cost item, with on- or off-premises consumption being paid for in advance on contract. In contrast, today's cloud services have opened an opportunity to pay for IT consumption. "We're fairly on top of our cloud, operations wise, our focus is primarily on which resources are being provisioned and what their related costs are," says Andrew Kenny, VP Platform Engineering, Acquia.

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* Improving management requires tools. Hitting optimal usage, which adapts with the rise (or fall) in demand, requires automation tools. "Auto-scaling is a primary function in hitting the usage sweet spot. Our business needs to process very large amounts of incoming data at various times of the day. AWS's elastic capabilities help us to meet this, yet we still need tools to view and measure our usage," says Shane Meyers, Operations, SmugMug. Operations management, pure costing and reliability measurement tools are must haves for a cloud user's toolbox. Furthermore, the right tool combination helps facilitate a proper and effective conversation between business management and cloud operations teams.

* Many business perspectives of cloud costs. The one-dimensional view on cloud costs as being a stand-alone independent unit has given way to a more dynamic view, one that links cloud expenditures with specific cost structures inside and outside of the business. "We need the visibility to see which cloud resources and costs support a given customer, service, internal business unit and so-on," says Chemi Katz, VP Technical Operations, Double Verify. For business executives, this visibility is now evolving from a meek interest into an expected deliverable in order to see and confirm a stable, but variable environment that supports all aspects of the business.

* Deeper visibility into cloud resources. AWS provides an opportunity to benefit from on-demand cloud resources, Class A infrastructure and exceptional competitive pricing. As a user's cloud footprint scales in terms of spend, deployed and redeployed resources, and expansion into the many AWS services available (i.e., EC2, S3 and Glacier), the role of the cloud user becomes more "business oriented" requiring him to buy/sell resources with demand. There is a growing demand to gain better visibility in two dimensions: 1) macro: bottom line view on costs, assets and risks, and 2) micro: deep visibility into availability, security, utilization and financial efficiency. This visibility helps IT better align their cloud with the business goals and budget allocated.

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