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Balancing performance & cost in cloud infrastructure

 One of the most interesting ironies of modern tech is this: Cloud infrastructures gained popularity as efficient, scalable, and cost-savers, and as of 2022, 94% of enterprises are overspending on cloud infrastructures. The major reasons for this catastrophe are underused and over-provisioned resources, a lack of cloud utilization skills, and manual containerization. Even for digital transformation-led multi-cloud adoption, skill shortage has been quoted as one of the top barriers. 

Migrating to a cloud gives organizations much-needed agility and scalability. However, these performance improvements and the popular cost benefits do not manifest automatically. They need to be strategically achieved by optimizing workloads. In the long run, the challenge with using cloud infrastructure is finding the sweet spot between maximizing performance and managing costs. Today, we will discuss strategies to balance cost and performance in your cloud systems. 

Examining workloads

Before introducing a cloud infrastructure in your organization, the primary step is examining each application and system’s workload. Since different systems could vastly differ, you need insights into performance and resource requirements, criticality, usage patterns, and other aspects. Mission-critical systems might need higher performance levels, while you can save more on non-critical workloads with cost-effective configurations.

Rightsizing resources

Instance types and sizes are available with cloud service providers to match different performance needs and use cases. Rightsizing refers to selecting the instance type that aligns with your workload requirements sans avoidable overhead costs. This process begins with monitoring resource utilization and performance metrics of each application. This data will tell you whether you are overfeeding resources or not. It will help you pick the apt instances that optimize costs without letting performance suffer.

Implementing auto-scaling

Auto-scaling is what can change the game of cost-performance equilibrium in cloud infrastructures. Dynamic adjustment of resources based on workload requirements ensures that your applications are equipped with enough resources in peak times. At the same time, they can also scale down during lower levels of activity. Auto-scaling policies can be designed to trigger based on specific metrics such as memory usage, CPU utilization, or network traffic. This, again, helps you avoid over-provisioning, leading to cost savings. There, you have a win-win with cost efficiency and performance consistency! 

Track and monitor cost allocation

Along with the examination of workloads, scrutiny of costs is also crucial. Well-rounded cost allocation and monitoring processes ensure that costs are managed effectively. Cloud providers themselves provide tracking tools for spending across departments, projects, and teams. Thus, you can gain insights into your cost consumption break-up. This, in turn, will help you optimize resource allocation and maintain efficiency. It is advisable to consistently check cost reports and use monitoring dashboards to recognize anomalies and cost-saving opportunities. 

Take advantage of reserved instances and savings plans

On-demand pricing is not the only pricing model that cloud providers offer. They also give you the option of reserved instances and savings plans, which means more discounts. All you have to do is strategically commit to resources that you are sure will be in consistent use over a period of time. This way, you can achieve good performance levels while effectively lowering costs. 

Go for serverless architectures

Serverless architectures have been nothing short of revolutionary in the cloud infrastructure space. They might not be suitable for all applications, but exploring them for specialized use cases can give your cost optimization a big power-up. Serverless architectures allow you to pay only for compute resources your code uses. 

Design optimal data storage

Data is an asset bound to grow over time, so data storage becomes an important cost factor. Data lifecycle management will help you strategize data storage but also help you achieve a win-win situation where you hit the bull’s eye on cost-performance equilibrium. This strategy could involve moving less frequently used data to low-cost storage, archiving rarely accessed data, etc. Cloud providers, thankfully, provide different storage classes with varied performance and cost profiles so that you can pick the most suitable one for each dataset. 

Optimization as a culture

As you must have deduced by now, the cost-performance equilibrium is not a one-time job, it has to be an ongoing process. Cloud infrastructures are dynamic; workloads, businesses, applications, and technologies evolve significantly. You must regularly examine your performance metrics, spending patterns, architecture status, and other areas to recognize gaps and improvement opportunities. Continuous optimization should grow into a culture amongst teams wherein they are constantly looking for new ways to polish your infrastructure for cost efficiency and better performance. 

Leveraging licensing costs

Licensing costs are not a factor you can overlook either. Remember that migration of workloads to cloud systems often means wastage of traditional software licenses (for example, MS Windows Server). Explore the potential of a BYOL (Bring Your Own License) approach, which allows the use of existing licenses with no extra charges. Awareness of the cost implications of licenses is the first step towards leveraging licenses and their cost toward the elusive equilibrium we are trying to explore here. 

Parting note

Sustaining success as a business and a technological identity takes a lot of effort and overcoming challenges, including cloud systems’ cost-performance equilibrium. It is an ever-evolving practice. The above-mentioned inputs will give you a significant kick-start to accomplishing the equilibrium. However, your consistency with efforts and best practices will be the real game changer for your business. 

Keep a watch on updates in the field, research best practices, and strive to keep up with developing methods to ensure this challenge is overcome successfully.

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