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3 cost optimization strategies for multi-cloud environments

Cloud environments can become costly especially across multiple cloud providers. Read about these cost optimization strategies to bring down your bill.

Multi-cloud continues to increase in popularity as enterprises seek to free themselves from vendor lock-in and find the best services that fit their projects or wallets. However, organizations must extend their management, resource monitoring and observability strategies to accommodate the complexity of a multi-cloud environment.

The key to optimizing costs in a multi-cloud environment is having accurate data. With it, cloud teams and business stakeholders can make appropriate spending decisions. Follow along with these cost optimization strategies, such as implementing cloud cost allocation models, performing resource monitoring and selecting the right tools.

Create cloud cost allocation models

Before diving into cloud management and optimization tooling, establish clear cost allocation models. These models should distribute cloud costs amongst the different departments, teams or projects your organization supports. Allocation provides cloud admins greater visibility into how much is being spent and by whom.

These models encourage accountability and informed decision-making. Expect to revisit and revise the allocation models regularly as teams learn more about the multi-cloud environment and the organization's spending trends.

Monitor resource usage and configurations

A good way to easily visualize resource usage and metrics across multiple environments is through dashboards. Customized reporting is a critical requirement in multi-cloud cost optimization, which reaffirms the need for a comprehensive tagging strategy across cloud environments to identify all cloud resources. A resource mapping system that correlates resources across a multi-cloud environment helps enterprises understand usage patterns and options for optimizing cloud costs.

Automation is crucial for tasks such as these because it removes human error and frees up cloud teams for other projects. Automation use cases that will positively impact cloud cost optimization across a multi-cloud environment include the following:

  • Optimize resources, load balancing and auto-scaling.
  • Set up and deploy monitoring agents.
  • Collect, aggregate and analyze data.

To properly interpret data and create actionable insights, enterprises need to collaborate with all departments. It also requires asynchronous collaboration or live meetings between cloud and FinOps teams. A unified monitoring platform can consolidate data from multiple cloud service providers to help such efforts.

When ops teams have to hopscotch between providers' control panels, it consumes unnecessary time and introduces human error.

Select the right tools

The road to multi-cloud can be the result of corporate merger and acquisition, customer demand or design. Whichever way an organization comes to multi-cloud, you want a unified view of cloud services across your providers accessible from a single dashboard. When ops teams have to hopscotch between providers' control panels, it consumes unnecessary time and introduces human error. Two important offerings to look for are a cloud cost management platform and an observability tool.

Cloud cost management platform

A cloud cost management platform should have role-based access control and collaborative features to support cloud and finance team access to cost data and reporting. Additionally, management should have a role to view reporting. Other requirements enterprises should look into before buying into a cost management platform include the following:

  • Forecasting of cloud spending trends.
  • Cost attribution to customers, projects and organizations.
  • Granular control over resource monitoring, management, control and reporting.
  • Cost anomaly detection that flags odd spending variations that break from documented trends.

Recently, there have been significant developments in the cloud management and FinOps startup spaces, with improved APIs and capabilities to securely pull cost and related data across a multi-cloud environment. For example, if your organization is in the European market, consider checking out the emma platform, which shows potential for mitigating many of enterprises' multi-cloud management challenges. Also, look to cloud management platform startups like Kion and CloudBolt to advance multi-cloud management and cost optimization. However, don't forget to factor in time to pilot new management tools as part of the overall multi-cloud strategy.

Observability tool

While a cloud management platform provides a centralized console, it won't offer cloud and financial teams the in-depth data that an observability tool can offer. Some platforms might not have robust anomaly detection either. Observability via management platforms is undoubtedly a good start and can serve as a proving ground for how cross-functional teams can view and interact with cloud consumption data.

However, if you're facing increasing cost optimization requirements, compliance and related initiatives will drive the need for a more fully featured observability tool. Prometheus and Grafana -- two well-regarded open source observability tools -- can monitor a complex multi-cloud environment and provide a vendor-agnostic perspective on the performance and behavior of applications and services across an environment.

Will Kelly is a technology writer, content strategist and marketer. He has written extensively about the cloud, DevOps and enterprise mobility for industry publications and corporate clients and worked on teams introducing DevOps and cloud computing into commercial and public sector enterprises.

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