Mistakes include ordering too much power, not shutting down in off hours
The benefits of shifting business applications to Web-friendly cloud services is proving far more complex than lining up a partner and flipping a switch, say executives who have made the transition. Absent proper expense controls, they say the cloud can be exceptionally wasteful of expensive resources.
What to watch for? Experts say always keep future costs in mind when planning the shift. Some common mistakes include ordering too much computing power, failing to program software shutdowns in off hours, not using monitoring tools to keep tabs on wasted computing cycles, or allowing programmers to believe cycles are free.
Lessons learned from cloud-pioneers such as streaming video provider Netflix Inc. and life-sciences equipment and services firm Thermo Fisher Scientific Inc., can be helpful for information-technology executives.
Adrian Cockcroft, a former Netflix cloud architect who oversaw the company’s move to Amazon.com Inc.’s Web services business from its data center, says Netflix engineers wrote software that automatically shut down systems at off-peak times and could predict when to resume activity. Another Netflix custom program tracked the cloud computing resources consumed by each region or service.
“If you build applications that assume the machines are ephemeral and can be replaced in a few minutes or even seconds, then you end up building an application that is cost-aware,” said Mr. Cockcroft, now a technology fellow at venture-capital firm Battery Ventures. “The big thing in enterprise computing now, and it goes right up to the CIO level, is optimizing for speed and agility,” he said.
The economic case for embracing cloud computing is based on the idea that consuming resources as you need them beats expending capital and maintenance budgets to fund a roomful of servers. But the ease with which departments can tap online resources with little more than a company credit card can lead to problems. Ordering too much computing power can be as easy as over ordering at a restaurant or leaving the water running at home.
Some 60% of cloud software servers can be reduced or terminated because companies have purchased too many, estimates Boris Goldberg, co-founder and chief technology officer at Cloudyn Ltd., which develops software to monitor and manage cloud computing.
Mark Field, vice president of information technology at Thermo Fisher remembers the day he discovered that the pay-what-you-use argument for cloud computing had a flip-side. The Waltham, Mass., life sciences company had rented computing power from Amazon Web Services to perform minor computing tasks. But on Fridays the engineers would leave computing tasks processing through the weekend, running up the bill with AWS and erasing potential cost savings. “Would you like someone leaving the shower running in your house all weekend long?” Mr. Field asked.
To stanch the leak, Mr. Field ordered that all procurement of cloud services go through his department. Each week he combs through the bills for cloud services and finds underutilized servers, or servers that are running when no one is using them.
Like Netflix, Thermo Fisher developed software scripts that can start or stop entire computing systems on demand. He also elected to swap more expensive AWS machines—AWS sells virtual servers that accommodate various computing workloads—for lower cost AWS services because he determined the servers he was using were more powerful than what was needed. In December, Thermo Fisher cut $20,000 from its previous AWS bill.
The ability to manage cloud costs is becoming a priority for businesses as the technology moves deeper into the mainstream. World-wide spending on public cloud services is expected to total $59.5 billion, up from $45.7 billion in 2013, according market research firm IDC. The cloud market is expected to have a compound annual growth rate of 23% through 2017.
Gautam Roy, vice president of infrastructure and IT operations at Waste Management Inc., has “battle scars” from his early efforts to make use of the cloud. While managing IT infrastructure and systems software for the Chicago Board Options Exchange in 2009, cloud costs exceeded his planned spending by 35% because engineers left computing tasks running when they weren’t at work.
Mr. Roy also has quibbled with vendors who wouldn’t accommodate several guarantees he sought regarding data uptime, separation of the trading firm’s data from those of other customers, and constant data encryption.
At Waste Management, Mr. Roy currently relies heavily on server and desktop virtualization technologies. The company uses some cloud services, such asSalesforce.com Inc., for sales management. But Mr. Roy said he may adopt more public cloud solutions because the market has matured much since his time at CBOE.
Jamie Cutler, CIO of Denver oil-and-gas explorer QEP Resources Inc., recommends negotiating or planning for software customization requirements as part of a cloud migration strategy. In one case, he sought customized functionality from a vendor who wasn’t able to provide it on his schedule. As a result, QEP is paying the cloud vendor and an on-premises vendor for the functionality it required.
Mr. Cutler said it was a crucial lesson he is now applying while reviewing cloud disaster recovery and storage services. In the future, he said, “We’re going to be more careful about what we put in the cloud.”
Cloud computing became a very popular term; everyone is now switching to the cloud.
When it first appeared as a concept, a lot of critics dismissed it as being the latest tech fad. However, cloud computing managed to cut through the hype shifted the paradigm of how IT is done nowadays
But what exactly is “Cloud Computing”? The “cloud”refers to the internet, so when we refer to Cloud Computing we refer to the way data are stored and accessed through an internet connection, this means that people are allowed to access their data anytime and anyplace.
Why is so popular? It is a great and easy way to storage your data, but is it a reliable solution? The answer is no, not at 100%.
Like most things in life, benefits come with risks. Let’s try to understand which are the benefits and if they can outweigh the risks.
In conclusion despite its disadvantages, cloud computing remains a great choice for businesses especially if well contemplated with the right provider. We certainly hope that the advantages will further grow and the disadvantages will be eliminated but the future certainly looks promising.