Expert opinion

Expert Opinion: How to Spend Smart on Cloud Migration?

6 minutes

A popular belief holds that clouds help economize. However, experts advise choose wisely whether to migrate the entire infrastructure, as there are potential pitfalls of increasing costs. Sergey Zinkevich, Product Manager, CROC Cloud Services, explained CNews how to spend smart on cloud migration and establish win-win relationships with a cloud service provider.

How much is a cloud migration?

A case-by-case approach is almost always used in cloud migration. The total price greatly depends on customer's infrastructure configuration, scale, particular services used, and other extras. There is not much room for saving, and the increase in scheduled downtime of servers and services plays the key role.

"If a customer is OK with its infrastructure being unavailable to employees and clients for at least one night (usually overnight into Sunday, though the day and time mainly depend on services and users), then the work will cost half as much," says Sergey Zinkevich, Product Manager, CROC Cloud Services. "On the contrary, if a customer migrates a business-critical service and wants to integrate it seamlessly with a cloud infrastructure while keeping continuous availability, then the price will get higher."

It is important to learn your cloud provider's competencies before the migration

Oftentimes companies migrate their entire infrastructure rather than standalone systems. In such cases a stepwise migration of services and systems will work best, as it allows a provider to schedule specialists' work, thus reducing both costs and time pressure. A tight schedule inflates the price.

"Recently we hosted a webinar about how to migrate data and services to a cloud and avoid problems or extra costs. We reviewed common mistakes, technical tools that simplify migration, and work order of priority. We are going to hold another webinar on April 25, where we will share tips on choosing a provider and preparing a requirements specification," said Sergey Zinkevich.

How to avoid unnecessary spending?

Most importantly, choose a service provider carefully. It is essential to be mindful of cloud provider competencies before the price: if you buy cheaply, you pay dearly during the operation. Naturally, market leaders with a long implementation track record are the first to consider – better if they work within your company's segment. You may want to read feedback from other customers or even ask them personally to share it. It is advisable to try the cloud platform first using a demo account. Drafting a service level agreement (SLA) is another essential issue. It must be detailed and strict and include absolutely everything regarding cloud platform operation and the work of support, maintenance and development team.

It is a very common situation when costs rise due to the human errors and employee careless attitude towards resource use. This is often associated with scaling during seasonal peaks or dedicated project teams' activities. Heads of IT departments are rarely able to afford drilling into details of computing capacities requested for specific tasks.

Sergey recalled a similar case with their customer Tutu.tu: "Cloud migration was our solution after all. We rewrote the billing system providing the customer with a detailed breakdown of costs related to specific project teams and processes: now CIO gets insights into costs, and their developers can plan the budget just right by receiving individual service invoices."

Costs often rise due to the human errors

What application are better off of clouds?

Analysts say that obsolete monolithic architectures are least efficient in clouds. You can migrate such systems, but why though? Instead, you'd better rebuild your infrastructure or leave it as it is on premise.

How to optimize consumption-based costs?

The major cloud benefit is on-demand resource provisioning and paying after for actual capacity consumption. Experts reasonably stress that idle virtual machines shall be turned off or even deleted.

"Swed-Mobil, an auto dealer, put this into practice to save up to 50% of its cloud budget," recalls Sergey. "One of our customers – a healthcare organization hosted in CROC Cloud – does the same by turning off their electronic front desk for the night, and in the morning it restarts with the first healthcare consumers."

Sergey Zinkevich: "Many large companies find it easier and more economically efficient to outsource some tasks to a provider leveraging its expertise and enterprise-scale infrastructure."

You can easily undo deletion of virtual machines or recover them by using automation tools scripts capable of quickly starting the infrastructure with the required configuration and the least IT staff efforts.

What solutions are useful for cloud cost management?

The major cloud cost management tool is a billing system, as it allows to track the amount and price of resources consumed anytime. Moreover, you can plan and budget your IT in advance, since service providers, especially large ones, tend to stick to the prices.

"The most popular modern tools used by CROC Cloud include Terraform and Ansible. These wrap about ten manual operations into a one-click shortcut to deploy computing environments, data storages, and network devices, which can be quickly removed later without wasting administrators' time and cloud resources," adds Sergey Zinkevich.

What potential advantages could cloud savings bring to business?

The key advantage is reduction of capital expenditures. Many companies that have embarked on clouds report a 30-40% CAPEX reduction.

In addition, clouds are beneficial to host services and processes with dynamically changing and irregular load. This is the case for online stores and other businesses experiencing seasonal fluctuations: construction and development, agriculture and food production, etc.

"When getting ready for the seasonal peak load, such customers rely on cloud rather than investing into own IT idling around for a whole quarter or longer," explains Sergey Zinkevich. "If business activity is well balanced through a year and the loads are stable, then costs of own infrastructure and cloud services might even out in a five-year perspective. However, the customers using our cloud for years claim that calculating just direct costs is not quite correct. In addition to equipment costs, the budget should include administration expenses (recruiting appropriate specialists, payroll, and personnel training and retention). Many large companies find it easier and more economically efficient to outsource these tasks to a provider leveraging its expertise and enterprise-scale infrastructure."

Anyway, cloud providers hold extensive consultations with companies prior to starting a project and analyze the existing business processes to draft requirements for the cloud infrastructure and calculate the TCO. Such multistage consulting before the migration is almost a hundred percent guarantee that the provider's solution will work best and make business cost-efficient.

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