Oct 8, 2020

Cloud Computing

Part 3: Cost

Written by Nathan Johnston, Chief Technology Officer

As you begin to deploy workloads into the cloud, it is essential to form a cost control strategy. The cloud offers opportunities for significant savings, but uncontrolled cloud infrastructure can result in unexpected costs and depleted budgets. Cloud services, like Microsoft Azure, provide information and tools that can help you predict and maintain a spending strategy that meets your application’s needs and budget.

The first place to start your cost management process is during the design process of your application and its infrastructure. Cloud services provide a myriad of choices that meet many different needs and cost requirements. Model the development and production spend of your application while choosing the components that will serve your application. Make use of the tools provided, such as the Azure Pricing Calculator, to create a detailed budget for your application that you can maintain along the way. This will allow you see how different choices and loads will affect the cost profile of your application.

Cloud components often have many choices regarding how they can be billed; balancing flexibility, capacity, cost limits, and commitment. These choices have many names; reserved instances, dedicated capacity, shared, premium, isolated, and consumption-based billing alongside selections for horizontal and vertical scalability, either manual or automatic. Although some of the nuances of the billing for each service can take some time to understand, it will be well worth the effort to budget now and track later.

Become familiar with your cloud platform’s tools to help maintain visibility as to how well you are holding to your budgeted spend. Azure provides Azure Cost Management + Billing to do everything from paying your bill, setting spending thresholds, and perform detailed analysis to help you identify what and where you are spending your cloud budget. This type of tool will also look at the utilization of your services and identify opportunities for application and infrastructure changes to optimize your spending. You can also utilize scheduled exports and API access to integrate this data with your other systems and processes.

Although the cloud offers almost endless options for building and maintaining an application infrastructure, understanding, planning, and maintaining a cost strategy is essential to keep a predictable budget and avoid waste or overspend on improperly sized or unneeded services. Fortunately, your cloud provider will have the tools and information you need to maintain a cost structure that meets your needs now and in the future.

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