The Digital Transformation Dash
Driving Your Cloud Optimization Rhythm
While I live in Singapore, I am most often found traveling and working somewhere in Asia. To bring a bit or ‘normalcy’ to my schedule, I enjoy a bit of early morning exploration and usually click-off 5 to 10 miles while the city sleeps. Running in Asia can be an experience and I’ve had the opportunity to demonstrate ‘agility’ in Mumbai, Jakarta and Bangkok to name a few.
When you run in places like this, you really need to keep focused on the task at hand to avoid the pot holes, cars and cattle that occasionally cross your path. So, when I find myself back in Singapore or other ‘smooth sidewalk’ countries, I tend to think more and focus less.
During my most recent trip, I found myself running the fine streets of Redmond, WA at 5 a.m. in the morning (thanks to a serious case of jetlag); and while running along the well-funded sidewalks surrounding the Microsoft campus, my foot caught on a small ridge in the sidewalk. Crash and Burn! Nothing too serious; although I believe I have a hairline fracture in my right forearm.
So, what does this have to do with Digital Transformation and Cloud Optimization? Whether you’re running in Mumbai or Redmond, you really need a bit of focus to ensure success. And, as we move both preliminary and mainstream business applications to the Cloud, we need to establish and execute against a consistent rhythm to deliver the application availability, response times, user experience and cost benefits expected. Rhythm and focus are at the center of your Transformation initiative.
Where to start? Search the web for ‘Cost Saving AWS’ or ‘Workload Management Azure’ and you will find yourself working through a deluge of content and guidance on these topics. So, to simplify your approach and provide a bit of prescriptive guidance, I would recommend a Cloud Optimization Rhythm to quickly tune Cloud Deployments, effectively manage your Consumption and methodically apply Best Practices. A high-level view of our Cloud Optimization Rhythm is provided in the graphic below:
Cloud Solution R1: For a newly released Cloud Solution, I would recommend a daily rhythm to review and tune costs, performance, security and availability through the first month of deployment, with a weekly rhythm and monthly review thereafter.
Cloud Solution R1.1: This same rhythm is applied to new versions of an existing Cloud Solution, however, the more detailed daily tuning and management requires only a few days with a quick return to our weekly reviews and monthly checkpoints.
Now that we’ve established our rhythm, we need to somehow ensure that we maximize the benefit of the Cloud for our organization. Expectations associated with Cloud computing are well defined and every I.T. Leader is expecting increased performance / agility accompanied by decreased costs. However, many early cloud adopters have a small library of crazy stories about rogue processes or unknown operating attributes that can quickly drive up costs.
To complement our Cloud Optimization Rhythm (COR), we need to equip both management and our technology teams with the insight and equipment required to continually optimize our cloud operating environment. Amazon (Trusted Advisor) and Microsoft (Advisor) have already made significant progress toward this objective with the Advisor services included in both AWS Management / Azure Portal. The Advisor experience, in both cases, include effective use of existing Cloud metadata to provide deployment and operational recommendations. They also include direct reference and examples of Best Practice.
In addition to the information offered via Advisor, there are additional decisions and data points that deserve ongoing review and tuning. To help focus your Cloud Optimization Rhythm, I would recommend that you systematically select and review one or more of the topics included in the COR Issues list below. Use this pick list (and please, add to it) to drive the conversation in each of your COR meetings with the goal of continually driving down cost, while improving your overall Cloud experience.
Quick Start to Saving
Focus: License / Purchasing
- Select and ensure alignment across priority Solutions, Partners, License and Services. Identify Partner(s) who have the capability to license, deploy your applications and manage your services; providing you with a singular experience and enhanced opportunity for cost savings across an integrated set of services.
- Prepay to get a discount – even on pay-as-you-go accounts
- Get an Enterprise Agreement for maximum discount. Whether you pay-as-you-go or plan your purchase via an Enterprise Agreement, I would always recommend sizing, budgeting and then committing the majority of your expected cloud budget – up front – to secure the best price from any cloud provider.
- Use available Azure Offers to reduce your overall spend. In addition to prepay and license specific discounts, Cloud providers regularly provide new incentives to encourage both purchase and consumption. Always Ask!
- Choose the right type & size of Virtual Machine
- Choose the right tier of storage for price & performance
- Compare Prices across Regions for optimal pricing. Selection of the right VM, the right storage, the best region can all make a significant difference when running a production environment, at scale in the cloud.
Your Saving Strategy
Focus: Program & Incentives
- New Business? Sign up for Bizspark
- Ask your Partner / Microsoft Representative for a list of available Cloud Incentives
- Assess requirements and potential value of becoming a Microsoft Cloud Partner. In setting our Cloud savings strategy, we need to look beyond licensing and deployment options to the programs & incentives available from our Cloud provider. Our systematic review of programs and incentives is designed, very intentionally, to maximize the value of our Digital Transformation.
Digging Deep with Design
Focus: Design & Development
- Maximize savings & availability of existing Apps with Virtualization & Containers. Cost savings can be realized without a major application overhaul via Virtualization and Containers.
- Combine Azure Web Apps with Azure App Service Plans to reduce server count
- Use Azure App Services (vs Cloud Services) to streamline Web App deployment and management
- Use Azure PaaS Services
- Use SQL Elastic Pools. Systematic review of our existing applications, followed by redesign and development of these applications help ensure long-term cost savings and improvements in performance, availability and operations.
Continuous Training and Tuning
Focus: Management & Automation
- Turn on Azure Advisor to identify and eliminate resources with low usage
- Auto-scale your Azure RDS Deployments
- Use Azure DevTest Labs to auto-shutdown test servers
- Avoid paying for staging slots on Cloud Services
- Use Auto-Scaling to reduce after hours costs. Cloud Services, App Services & VM Scale Sets all support auto-scaling. Cost savings are realized through constant managing and tuning of our Cloud applications and environment. This short list of recommendations serves as a good start to launch your training and tuning.
In our example, I’ve designed our Cloud Optimization Rhythm with a focus on Microsoft Azure. However, the same COR management rhythm and the same list of topics can be easily replicated and applied to support optimal operation and cost savings with any other major Cloud provider.
Now, it’s your turn. I invite you to copy and reuse any piece or portion of our Cloud Optimization Rhythm that you find valuable. In addition, I invite you to participate in a continuing dialog on this topic with comments from across the reader community to be shared in a future article. You can post your comments via this survey: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/CORSavings
My best wishes in maximizing the value of your Digital Transformation and Cloud Optimization.