6 Smart Ways To Cut IT Costs

Technology plays a critical role in business. It makes sense that IT spending has steadily increased in recent years. In particular, Gartner has predicted it will increase by 3% by 2020, and it’s likely only going up from there.

But that doesn’t mean your IT costs have to keep soaring every year.

There are a few ways you can cut IT costs to save money overall. Here are some examples of how to get started reducing your IT spending.

Get the Right Equipment

Setting up the right hardware in the first place is an important step for saving money in IT. You want to make sure your hardware is not underpowered for your needs. Keep in mind the “now” and the future — assuming you plan to grow your business.

At the same time, you don’t want it to be overpowered to the point where you’re paying extra supplementary hardware you don’t need to use. Make sure you’re only paying for the equipment you actually need for your day-to-day operations.

The same goes for software. Take stock of the software you’re paying for, and stop renewing the licenses for any programs you no longer use.

Move to the Cloud

One way to save on hardware is to strategically migrate some of your applications and data to the cloud. When you stop storing data in your office, you no longer have to buy additional hardware or pay for maintenance on your current storage hardware.

That’s why one study found that 88 percent of the businesses surveyed saved money — and 56% even boosted profits — after they moved to the cloud.

Renegotiate Third-Party Vendor Contracts

Take a look at any contracts you have with vendors providing services for your business. Just because a vendor was the best option a few years ago doesn’t mean it still is today. At least once a year, consider the quality of the services you’ve been paying for, and make sure you’re still satisfied.

You should also compare the price you’re paying with the rates for other vendors. In short, you might find better prices elsewhere. Consider combining a few services together from the same vendor to save money, too.

Use Virtualized Infrastructures

Another way to cut IT costs is to switch to virtualized infrastructures. This means running your software from different physical infrastructures rather than paying to run it all from your own.

Related: 5 Important VDI Benefits You Cannot Ignore

Virtualizing infrastructures allows businesses to access enterprise-level technology without first having to spend money on the software licenses, hardware, and upkeep. So if you’re trying to cut IT costs without losing access to the programs you need, this is another option to consider.

Reduce Personnel Costs

You need people to effectively use the technology that makes your business successful, so it makes sense to focus on staff as a way to reduce IT costs. First, note that reducing your turnover rate is important because hiring new employees is expensive. You can do this by making sure your staff feels appreciated and important within the company.

Another way to cut IT costs? Recruit talented recent graduates from local colleges to fill your entry-level positions. You might even consider hiring interns who you can train (and eventually promote) from within once they graduate.

Hire a Managed Services Provider

As you take these ideas into consideration, get familiar with another way to reduce IT costs: hiring a managed services provider that will offer you several IT services for one reasonable, flat-rate fee.

We’ll help you every step of the way as you balance business operations with money-saving strategies related to IT.

Contact us today to find out how our optimizing your existing technology footprint can help your business save money on IT expenses.

5 Important VDI Benefits You Should Not Ignore

Dramatic advances in technology have created a digital culture.

Businesses in every industry are now dependent on internet-based applications to manage everything from process flow to customer relationships. Outdated IT infrastructure impacts all major aspects of successful operations, from attracting and retaining a quality workforce to getting product delivered on-time, as promised.

Staying current with technological updates is a complex endeavor. Identifying the best solution for a company’s needs is a challenge when there are so many options, and upgrading hardware and software is costly. Fortunately, new developments in the area of business IT are changing the approach to meeting technological requirements.

One of the most exciting is VDI (Virtual Desktop Infrastructure).

A Quick Guide to VDI

Traditionally, staff members have connected with business infrastructure through laptop and desktop computers. Business IT strategies were based on a foundation of independently functioning machines linked to a larger company network. Today, even the most fundamental elements of IT infrastructure are being reconsidered, and VDI is transforming the basic assumptions of IT strategy.

VDI creates a system in which a single massive computer supplies resources like drive space, memory, and processors to all linked machines, including desktops, laptops, and mobile devices. Any device with access to the internet can connect.

Hypervisor software known as the Virtual Machine Monitor (VMM) divides the resources among connected devices to ensure smooth operations. This method centralizes business IT functions, such as data storage and security, and simplifies tasks related to IT support and maintenance.

VDI, By the Numbers

Though a rudimentary form of VDI was introduced as early as 2006, it wasn’t a widely considered technology solution until years later. Today, the technology has advanced beyond its early flaws, and momentum is building for large-scale deployment.

  • In 2016, the global cloud-based VDI market was valued at $3,654 million
  • North America leads the world in VDI adoption, with the 2016 market valued at $1,501 million in 2016
  • Increases are expected at a compound annual growth rate of 16.5% through 2023
  • By 2023, the value of the global cloud-based VDI may exceed $10 billion
  • Most of this growth will come from small and medium-sized businesses

Organizations across every industry and around the world are tapping into the power of VDI to realize a wide array of benefits.

Over 75% of organizations utilize some form of Virtualization. Some firms report that they virtualized or plan to virtualize 90% of their servers.

Building Your Business with VDI

The specific impact VDI will have on your organization depends on the business problem you want to solve. Some of the most common benefits realized after VDI deployment include the following:

Improved Collaboration

It is increasingly necessary for companies to combine resources during the completion of major projects, whether due to a merger, acquisition, or joint venture. In some cases, businesses and their clients have a need to collaborate real-time through remote access to a single network.

Related: 4 Signs You’re Ready For Virtual Desktops

VDI makes such partnerships faster and easier, reducing the need to develop one-off solutions for each application.

Hardware Reduction

It’s nearly impossible to do business without digital access, but purchasing and maintaining computers and other devices for each staff member is costly.

Through VDI, many organizations have been able to reduce their hardware inventory, as employees can access needed business resources with a Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) program.

Disaster Recovery

All sorts of events can take a company offline, from hurricanes and tornadoes to fire. Every minute that an organization disconnects, it comes with substantial hard and soft costs. VDI creates an immediate disaster recovery solution, as connections no longer depend on a collection of individual machines.

Instead, all business-critical IT infrastructure stays in the cloud, accessible from anywhere, anytime.

Security

The news covers large data breaches on a regular basis, but these stories don’t begin to show the true extent of the problem. Cybercriminals are growing more sophisticated, and they are targeting businesses at higher rates.

Experts believe that more than half of all attacks are not reported, and they estimate that the true volume could be closer to 350,000.VDI dramatically reduces security risk, because individual laptops and devices do not hold sensitive data. Instead, all of this information resides within a data center.

In addition, updating malware and antivirus software is less labor-intensive, and firewall protection is simpler to implement. And, if an attack succeeds, VDI makes it easier to access the backups.

IT Management

IT professionals spend much of their time on resolving issues for individual users.

VDI reduces the need for this type of support, because individual devices serve as access points only. The central unit stores all the applications and information. This feature offers two significant benefits.

First, you get cost savings and spared expenses related to IT management and support. Second, users are far less likely to face the frustration of system issues, which improves employee engagement and productivity.

Virtual Workspace

The remote workforce is growing, and all trends indicate that business will see more virtual employees in coming years. VDI plays an important role in keeping remote staff members online and engaged.

They have any time, anywhere access to the software and data required to complete their work, without the issues that come with a traditional laptop or mobile device.

VDI for Your Business

We’ve given you a lot to think about.

The fact of the matter is, VDI can be a game-changer in terms of how your business operates. Keeping mind growing adoption rates, evolving features, and a massive amount of benefits that you can experience, it’s well worth the effort.

We’re here to make the implementation of a virtual desktop infrastructure smoother than ever. We consult you on how it’s going to happen, and we’re there for you during each step of the actual implementation.

4 Signs You’re Ready For Virtual Desktops

Companies big and small are taking their data security more seriously as data breaches continuously make headlines.

In the face of these issues, developing better security involves more hardware and software upgrades that equal more costs to your business. Without a doubt, many CEOs and entrepreneurs see IT departments as necessary costs at best and expensive cost centers at worst.

But does it really have to be this way?

Enter the Virtual Desktop. Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) is a product that has been in the market for some time but has recently gained popularity due to its cost-effectiveness and improved data security.

While saving money is certainly a major factor persuading companies to make the switch, there are a host of other benefits as well.

1. Improved Data Security

One of the biggest advantages to switching to VDI is the ability to make adjustments and improvements via cloud controls. This centralized system allows IT departments to make changes to existing security systems much faster. In turn, the get ahead of security breaches and minimize damage if it does occur.

VDI cloud controls also save time and money – instead of sending IT professionals to individual computers and networks to install and check security measures, you can install patches and perform routine checks remotely.

In short, it saves time and personnel resources from doing these routine tasks by default. It reduces the operating cost of your IT department, making it wholly more efficient.

2. Reduced Capital Costs

Nearly all businesses run on some sort of computer network. Whether it’s a single office with a few computers or a large corporate entity that uses hundreds of private and public networks, there is more than likely a huge amount of money spent on computers and related tech peripherals.

It’s an incredible burden on any company especially when it comes to maintenance. One TechRepublic article discusses how annual double-digit increases in IT contracts are common.

With a Virtual Desktop system, you can dramatically reduce your costs as you reduce the number of individual desktops and networks. Software problems disappear with fewer independent computers and problems can be fixed from a centralized server.

3. More Customization

Various departments in any company will use different resources and as such will need different security and administration measures. For example, a computer that handles financial data and is connected to the internet would need a much higher level of security and clearance than a computer system setup for mostly intranet and office use.

Using a centralized, cloud-based VDI system would streamline your company’s ability to add or remove certain updates, security measures and protocols.

This means you don’t have to spend as much time adding or removing desktops to any departments. All files are secured in a central location and nothing needs to be backed up redundantly.

4. Improved Employee Productivity

It’s standard practice to assign projects to teams of employees to get the job done.

To accomplish this, people turn to productivity apps that allow them to share and pass along information. VDI based systems accommodate this trend towards co-working and team-centered approach to problems solving.

Related: How to Cut IT Costs

Since virtual desktops work with a centralized server, all information that a team member uploads is accessible by any other. This cuts out time spent compressing and transferring files between apps or email. What else? Virtual desktops cut out the need to use the internet to send files between team members who may work remotely in other areas making your company safer and more secure.

VDI for Your Business

If you are looking to make the change to a more streamlined and efficient Virtual Desktop Interface in your company, contact us today.

What Does VDI Really Cost?

One of the biggest problems that organizations face when implementing IT infrastructure is the CAPEX. Initial IT installations (for large infrastructure changes) was once a labor-intensive process.

It was once a necessary evil for any growing company looking to expand its business – but that has since changed. VDI has proven itself to be a much more effective tool. It can be deployed quickly, it uses fewer overall resources, and it provides better results than the tech of yore.

If you’re thinking about acquiring a VDI system for your company, you may be asking what kind of costs you need to look out for.

Let’s break the costs down.

The Benefit of Low OPEX

OPEX costs are much lower than in the past, partially due to advances in VDI technology. Advances such as hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI) only require IT departments to expand their capabilities using straightforward node additions.

In plain English, it means that your team can grow their storage, computing processing, and networking capabilities with plug-and-play additions to their IT infrastructure.

In turn, this allows your busy IT department to spend less time managing software installation and more time building custom tools and ensuring efficient workflows.

Related: 4 Signs You’re Ready For Virtual Desktops

Ultimately, these benefits result in lower operational costs and savings for your company.

How VDI Reduces Costs

Originally, a company’s IT department would include a dedicated staff with a server room, multiple workstations, network administrators, and a large upfront CAPEX investment. The IT department was traditionally seen as the “cost center” of the business model.

By Reducing Capital Expenditures

A VDI system eliminates unnecessary CAPEX that comes in the form of expensive computers and servers that need constant updating and have high operational expenses. Another issue that plagues IT departments is the cost of running and maintaining servers (and the staff that can keep that technology going).

A single server at the small business level itself can cost somewhere in the thousands. Then, you must add the cost of proprietary software and licensing, maintenance costs, and administration costs (which can cost additional thousands).

VDI removes those purchase and setup fees completely. Your potential savings from VDI in installation alone can be upwards of tens of thousands of dollars.

By Reducing Operational Expenses

It used to be that operating an IT department required around-the-clock service. Operating costs would soar every time there was a problem. For example, a downed server was totally devastating to any business. The average cost of enterprise server downtime in 2017 was between $300,000 and $400,000.

But that’s just downtime costs. That doesn’t take into account the constant updates required to protect your IT infrastructure from malware, anti-virus subscriptions, electricity costs, and multiple backup server solutions. All of those costs?

OPEX. Big ones.

Despite all this, you may assume that a bigger CAPEX is the more worthwhile investment for your company, but these days that’s not the case. Just in 2011, natural disasters in New Zealand destroyed many data centers that businesses relied on. Companies are constantly on the move to annually update their technology.

Those days are long gone with VDI.

Why turn to VDI?

With a virtual desktop infrastructure, you can eliminate unnecessary hardware, server costs, and worries about lengthy infrastructure recovery times. VDI allows you to run any and all necessary modules on your native hardware while connected to the cloud. This means that you no longer have fluctuating costs or potential asset loss. Your expenses become streamlined, predictable and reliable to boot.

If you are looking to invest in a VDI environment to reduce your costs and upgrade your infrastructure, contact us today. We’ll set you up with a reliable solution that will make a huge difference in the way you do business.

6 Reasons Why Amazon WorkSpaces is the Best VDI for Small Business

Not every business will benefit from a virtual desktop infrastructure. But for many small businesses with anywhere from 25-150 employees, the ROI can be significant.

So now if you’ve already determined that VDI is right for your business, how do you know which of the many VDI providers out there will meet your specific needs?

There are a lot of products on the market that claim to provide the best virtual desktop infrastructure for small businesses. Unfortunately, the formula to determine which VDI product is best for your business is not as straightforward as the VDI readiness assessment.

Who’s the Best VDI Provider for SMBs?

There are several products available, each with a wide variety of configurations for implementation that go along with them.

You will likely need to enlist the guidance of an expert to pick the right product for you to maximize your gains. This is largely based on the way your business will use VDI and the benefits you are looking to obtain.

That said, there is a proven, solid contender out there rises above the rest time and time again. This VDI product is Amazon WorkSpaces. AWS hasn’t disappointed us yet with its ease of implementation and breadth of applications that work on a variety of businesses.

Why is Amazon WorkSpaces The Best VDI for Small Business?

Amazon WorkSpaces is the VDI solution available from Amazon Web Services (AWS). It’s a cloud-based desktop computing service, from the market leader in cloud services. Amazon was one of the earliest public cloud providers, and because of this, has the most established services of the VDI products available.

Here are the 6 reasons we love it for small business.

1. Amazon WorkSpaces is Easy to Use

Amazon WorkSpaces is easy to configure, easy to deploy, and easy to integrate existing users. You can literally install this product and be up and running within an hour.

Seriously, it can be that simple. But there’s a catch.

If you have existing legacy servers with applications and data that needs to be configured and migrated, then there is a little bit more work involved. However, fundamentally, the system is designed to be easy and straightforward – and it really is.

2. Amazon WorkSpaces is Secure

Each user is granted persistent access to storage in the cloud. When users access their data in the cloud, it is compressed, encrypted, and encoded. It is a secure way for users to transmit data from any device anywhere in the world.

Related: Helpful Tips To Protect Your Data

In other words, it doesn’t matter where or what users transmit data from. It’s all secured in the AWS data center.

3. Deploying and Managing Applications is Easy

The initial setup of deploying applications and migrating data may take some configuration time. But once you establish it, it’s oh-so-simple. Amazon WorkSpaces provides a fast and secure way for you to package and deploy updates to your organization’s desktop applications.

Related: What Does VDI Really Cost?

Precious computing resources aren’t required to deploy new applications, and the cloud offers potentially unlimited scalability. This means not having to update each desktop individually, which will save your IT department a lot of time.

4. Amazon WorkSpaces Bundles the Hardware and Software You Need

Amazon WorkSpaces offers bundle packages that provide different amounts of computing power, memory, and storage that you can match closely to your business requirements.

In short, it means you don’t have to pay for services you don’t need.

However, you can scale up at any time due to their month-to-month service packaging and practically unlimited service capabilities. Another benefit Amazon WorkSpaces offers is pre-installed OS and applications such as Microsoft Office.

Related: 5 Important VDI Stats That You Should Know

You can use your own existing Windows desktop licenses or other licensed software you are using if you prefer. The benefit here is that there aren’t additional software licensing requirements that come along with the installation that you don’t need.

5. Amazon WorkSpaces Supports Multiple Devices

As we mentioned above, the biggest benefit to working in a Virtual Desktop Infrastructure is the mobility of it all. Users can access their Amazon WorkSpaces anywhere with an internet connection, from a variety of supported devices, including Windows and Mac computers, Chromebooks, iPads, Kindle Fire and Android tablets.

Related: How a Millennial Workforce Affects Your IT Strategy

This is perfect for companies with users that travel, work in multiple locations, or switch devices frequently. You’re not losing time getting them set up and running everywhere they go.

6. Amazon WorkSpaces Integrates with Active Directory

AWS integrates securely with Active Directory to use existing enterprise credentials to create a seamless integration with a company’s resources. Your virtual desktop will appear business as usual once configured.

It will basically be a cloud-based mirror of what users are currently running on your enterprise servers. The IT department won’t have to manage multiple servers and access to this information.

Amazon Workspaces and Your Business

You now know a little bit more about the Amazon WorkSpaces product available for Virtual Desktop Infrastructure. You should still partner with a VDI expert to configure the best implementation for your business. If you are suffering from outages or outdated hardware, it may be a good time to make the switch from your existing infrastructure.

Tagging Best Practices for Cost Management and Cloud Governance

Enterprises are now, more than ever, living in a multi-cloud environment managing highly complex pricing structures and an onslaught of new cloud services. The key to success is implementing enterprise-grade governance platforms that enable you to efficiently optimize costs across all cloud providers and ensure that you have access to any and all of the cloud services that your company requires.

The tagging of cloud resources is a critical foundation for your cloud governance initiatives. You will need a consistent set of tags that will be specifically used for governance and will apply globally across all of your resources. These global tags will add metadata specific to your organization that helps you better categorize each of your cloud resources for cost allocation, reporting, chargeback and showback, cost optimization, compliance, and security.

Defining Your Tagging Policy

Your cloud governance team should lead a process of defining your global tagging policy. It will be important to work with key stakeholders to get feedback and buy-in. Global tags should be applied consistently by all applications and teams in your organization. Individual teams or applications may add additional tags for their specific needs as well. 

Absent a tagging policy, it is common for teams or individuals within the same organization to use variations of the same tag, which makes it extremely difficult to achieve accurate reporting. To effectively use tags for reporting and governance purposes, it is critical to create a policy that defines consistent naming conventions, including spelling, uppercase/lowercase, and spacing.

Once the required global tags have been specified, adding the global tags should be the responsibility of the resource owners and development teams. Central IT may assist with scripts and tools. Automation is key to implementing tags. For example, if you are using a Cloud Management Platform for provisioning, all templates should be set up to attach the appropriate tags. 

Examples: Recommended Global Tags

Here is a template with a recommended set of global tags that you can customize with your specific tags and naming convention:

Tag TypeExamplesPurpose
Environmentenv = devenv = testenv = stageenv = prodUsed to identify the environment type
Billingbu = bigbucostcenter = salesregion = emeaowner = jsmithOne or more tags used to allocate costs
Applicationapp = bigappsvc =  jenkinsOne or more tags used to define the application or service
Compliancedataresidency = germanycompliance = piicompliance = hipaaOne or more tags used to define compliance requirements
Optimizationschedule = 24×7/GMT+1schedule = 12×5/GMT-8maxruntime = 14daysOne or more tags to use in automated optimization

Tags by Cloud Provider

Each cloud provider has different limits and restrictions on tags.

 AWSAzureGoogle (GCP)
Tags per resource501564
Length of key127 51263
Length of value256 25663
Case sensitiveYes (keys and values)NoLowercase only
Allowed charactersLetters, spaces, numbers, and + – = . _ : / @AlphanumericLowercase letters, numeric characters, underscores, and dashes. International characters are allowed.
NotesDon’t use aws: prefix as that is reserved for AWS.You must “activate” particular tags for cost allocation so that they show up in billing reports.Maximum active tag keys for Billing and Cost Management Reports: 500.Can tag on Azure Resource Manager (ARM) resources only (not classic Azure).Tag at Resource Group or Resource level. Suggest resource level for better cost allocationCombine tags or use JSON string if exceeding the 15 tag limit..Labels are a Beta service.Keys must start with a lowercase letter.Tags are called “Labels” in GCP.There are “network tags” in GCP used to apply firewall rules. These are separate from labels.
Taggable resourcesEC2 ResourcesOther ServicesAll ARM resources can be tagged.List of ARM servicesList
DocumentationTag DocsUser-Defined Tag RestrictionsTag DocsBest PracticesLabel Docs

Implementing Your Tagging Policy

To effectively implement your tagging policy, you will need to create a staged rollout process.

Stage 1: Define Tagging Policy

Your cloud governance team leads a process to define a global tagging policy. It will be important to work with key stakeholders to get feedback and buy-in.

Stage 2: Reporting

Your cloud governance team provides ongoing weekly reports to show the level of coverage for global tags by team or group. These reports help to show current state and also track improvements in tag coverage.

Stage 3: Alerting

Your cloud governance team sets up daily automated alert emails on resources that are missing the required tags. Some organizations may choose to stop at Stage 3 if they have achieved the desired adoption of global tags.

Stage 4: (Optional) Alerting with Automated Termination or Escalation

Alerts on untagged resources give a defined window (24 hours, for example) to tag resources. If not tagged, resources can be terminated (only for non-production workloads) or an escalation can be sent to managers.

Ongoing Monitoring of Tagging

Once you’ve implemented your tagging policy, your cloud governance team should set up ongoing weekly reports to monitor the level of coverage for global tags by team or group. These reports help to show the current state and also track improvements in tag coverage.

The cloud governance and central IT teams should also set up automated “tag checking” to alert on missing tags and enforce the use of tags. Enforcement could, in some cases, include adding default tags or even terminating instances that aren’t tagged correctly.

Good Tagging for Good Governance

Today, a well-designed and disciplined tagging approach is critical to good cloud governance. Putting this foundation in place and using automation to maintain good tag hygiene will support the success of your critical governance initiatives for cloud cost reporting, cloud cost optimization, and cloud security.

This article also appears in InfoWorld & Flexera.

4 Way To Keep Cloud Costs From Going Sky High

Optimizing cloud costs is a never-ending adventure, but implementing cloud best practices from the beginning is the best way to stay ahead of the inevitable challenges.

Managing cloud infrastructure poses new challenges companies aren’t accustomed to with traditional data centers. In the cloud, costs are incurred when new infrastructure is launched regardless of whether or not it’s used. It’s easy to provision infrastructure and forget about it or to spin up instances that are too large for the task at hand.

Below are some key cost optimization strategies to ensure your finance and engineering teams can live in harmony. We’ve outlined each strategy and how you can utilize our Hybrid Multi-Cloud Management platform to assist you along your optimization journey.

1. Scheduling Non-Production Instances

Because you pay for what you’re using in the cloud, it’s important to ensure resources are turned on only when needed. If a virtual machine is being used for development, does it need to be on when your engineers aren’t actively working on it?

An easy way to begin cutting costs is to schedule your development, testing, staging and QA instances to shut down when not in use. Even if only for the weekend, you can reduce costs by almost 30 percent per instance. This allows for large cost savings by doing the bare minimum and the potential for much larger savings if you turn the instances off during weekday non-working hours.

Using NextBit’s policy engine, you can automate scheduling by simply specifying with a tag when the instance should be running and when it should be turned off. Our platform will take care of the rest for your multi-cloud environment.

2. Rightsizing Infrastructure

Deploying the right instance or database for the task at hand is easier said than done. Far too often, they don’t align and your organization is left paying for underutilized infrastructure. By monitoring the metrics of the machines you’re using, you’ll  uncover what can be downsized to save money.

By downsizing an instance or database only one size, you can quickly cut costs by 50 percent. If you can downsize by two sizes, you’ll realize 75 percent savings. This is too significant of a savings opportunity to ignore, and one that’s better left to automation.

NextBit’s Modern IT Ops platform has out-of-the-box capabilities that allow your organization to downsize AWS, Azure or Google infrastructure. Whether it’s a virtual machine or a database, we have you covered. Our policies will downsize them for you based on the metrics you set. The policies also have the capability to exclude resources based on tags and can require approval, ensuring nothing critical is terminated.

3. Utilizing Cloud Vendor Discounts

The public cloud vendors want you to commit to using their resources for one or three years to receive a discount. And if your organization expects to expand its cloud footprint, you should take advantage of this savings opportunity.

AWS offers commitment discounts on a variety of services, including EC2 instances, RDS databases, and ElastiCache nodes. Recently, AWS released their most lenient commitment, called Savings Plan, which you can learn more about here. Azure offers reservations on several services as well.

Google’s reservations for their compute engine service are called Committed Use Discounts. They also offer sustained-use discounts, allowing you to save money for keeping your provisioned instances running.

There are many ways to save money on cloud use, and NextBit helps simplify the process—from being able to view the utilization of your reservations in our Hybrid Multi-Cloud Management solution, to receiving alerts regarding reservations and even saving recommendations from our policy engine.

4. Defining a Tagging Policy

Tags allow you to attach metadata specific to your organization on your cloud infrastructure. They assist in simplifying cost allocation, reporting, compliance, cost optimization, security, and chargeback.

Defining a policy early on for what tags should be included for your organization whenever a resource is provisioned will save your workers countless hours in the future. A few crucial tags we recommend are environment (dev, prod), billing (cost center, owner) and optimization (the hours an instance should be running). The full list can be found in our tagging white paper: Tagging Best Practices for Cloud Governance and Cost Management.

While tagging alone won’t save your company money, it plays a critical role in enabling other cost optimization tactics. The earlier in your cloud journey a tagging policy is defined, the easier it will be to optimize and track your provisioned infrastructure in the future.

Rinse and Repeat

Unfortunately, keeping your cloud costs down is not a one-time task. As your company continues to expand into the cloud, you can expect cloud waste to increase with it. While it’s possible to minimize waste manually, anyone in your organization who has tried can testify about the hassles and high amount of labor needed to execute effectively.

Remembering these pillars and ensuring your company adheres to them is a start and allowing NextBit to be a part of your journey is a great addition. Our solutions show your multi-cloud costs in a single pane of glass to ease the chargeback process and automate a plethora of savings initiatives, including scheduling and rightsizing. They also assist in asset discovery and cloud migration as your organization commits further to a cloud-first strategy.

The New Cloud Strategy in 2020

In recent weeks we’ve all been disrupted by the Covid-19 pandemic, both personally and professionally. The changes have been swift and severe, bringing new meaning to the Boy Scout motto: “Be Prepared.”

While certain sectors, like the restaurant industry, have been brutally affected by lockdowns, we’ve also seen encouraging signs of last-minute ingenuity. At the end of March, national chain The Cheesecake Factory warned that it would not be able to pay rent. One month later, of the nearly 300 restaurants it operates, only 30 are currently closed. The chain is experimenting with imaginative take-out concepts, such as a special happy-hour menu and a new line of ice cream.

The sudden economic slowdown worldwide is forcing IT leaders to pivot priorities and projects in response to changing employee and marketplace needs. Yet most organizations are not slashing their budgets, according to recent research from PwC. IDC’s latest research calls out cloud and IT infrastructure spending as a bright spot, with a nearly 4 percent projected increase for 2020.

In our view, there’s no time like the present to revisit your organization’s cloud strategy and ponder the benefits of being more aggressive in the near term. Here’s why:

  • Public cloud infrastructure allows for rapid on-demand scaling up and down, as employee and customer needs fluctuate.
  • Major cloud providers offer the latest PaaS technologies at significantly better economics than DIY, for most applications and workloads. PaaS enables speed to market benefits as well as flexibility and agility, which every business needs now in a highly unpredictable business climate.
  • Building a more agile, cloud-native infrastructure during slow times will prepare your business to ramp up faster when the economy improves along with delivering the best possible customer experiences in the interim.

How to plan for your next cloud move?

As always, every organization’s cloud journey is a bit different – although not unique. Begin by talking to your peers, colleagues at other companies and friends from the vendor community to shed light on best practices right now and how your business can implement a cost-effective cloud strategy. Accept where you are today in terms of IT maturity and establish a 12-18 month roadmap for your future ideal vision.

Consider these steps:

  1. Do a deep dive into your application portfolio. Analyze which applications would benefit most from migration, without considering budgetary restraints just yet. (In fact, pretend you have an unlimited budget.) Consider cost and time benefits, user experience, and revenue potential from a more flexible, agile infrastructure. Employ the input of Operations, Customer Support, and Enterprise Architecture when doing this assessment. This exercise might also highlight applications or investments that aren’t worth maintaining going forward.

  2. Put on the business hat. Now, take a look at your actual IT budget for expanding cloud investments – which may include outside vendors such as professional services or security auditors. Prioritize the top applications and workloads for cloud migration, based on both current and projected 12-18 month business conditions and customer expectations.

  3. Consider skills. If you’re moving applications versus building new ones from scratch, most likely they will not be built on container and microservices platforms. In that case, re-platforming or re-architecting the application will deliver the greatest long-term business value in the cloud. Yet, if you’re lacking the inhouse expertise and skillsets to do that properly and the budget to fill those gaps, start with a lift and shift migration. Still, this will reduce your on-premise footprint and create a pathway to modernization.

  4. Pick your Cloud Service Provider (CSP) of choice. A multi-cloud strategy is not for the faint of heart. If there’s a valid reason for running multiple cloud environments, so be it. But if you can make do with using one cloud provider, it will reduce complexity and spend. This might result in standardizing on a cloud provider that fits the 80-20 rule; it’s optimal for the critical 80% of your workload and good enough for the other 20%. Experts advise selecting a provider that’s best suited to the applications of interest, versus designing a multi-cloud infrastructure just to avoid vendor lock-in.

  5. Assemble the dream team. As cloud services have matured and become more pervasive across the enterprise, more roles are getting involved in planning and deployment, including line of business executives. Fundamentally, you will need individuals from enterprise architecture, IT operations, DevOps, and product or R&D if your company has those functions. This may call to light the need to either acquire new skills or develop them – or a hybrid approach incorporating both hiring/outsourcing and training existing employees.

  6. Build a use case for acceleration. The larger the company, the slower new cloud strategies evolve. Process complexity kills: There are often too many cooks in the kitchen along with significant disagreement on strategy between entrenched parties such as security teams and developers. This is where business numbers can help enormously to justify the approach. Quantify loss of revenues from a disaster (such as the one we’re experiencing now) if the IT environment cannot flex and scale appropriately to meet new demands. If your customer-facing applications such as the website don’t work well enough to keep a certain percentage of customers coming back and ordering more, can you risk that competitive loss? Business losses lead to unemployment which leads to future costs to re-enable your workforce once problems are fixed or conditions dictate a resurgence in demand.

  7. Get the right data. Use all of the operational data you can get your hands on to consider the various pros and cons of one IT strategy versus another. While business systems, such as CRM, supply chain, and finance systems reveal market and customer trends, IT has the data on application usage and behavior which also should inform new strategies. These discussions require balancing IT wishes with the line of business wishes and addressing the executive team’s changing priorities. But if you lead with the data and focus on customers and revenue impact, the best strategy should win.

  8. Think agile. Moving up the cloud maturity curve is dependent upon an organization’s ability to bring previously distinct groups together: developers, IT operations, security, and product or project managers need to sync up on sharing data and making decisions. DevOps tools can help provide the proper structure for rapid, iterative workflows, yet tools can’t get you all the way. IT leaders must lead by creating a culture of agility, collaboration, and individual accountability on shared goals. Determining the most effective way to work with business counterparts is, of course, table stakes.

Many of us spend a significant proportion of our weeks wondering (and worrying about) what’s going to happen tomorrow, next week or next month.  If we can instead take advantage of the time we now have to think hard about the status quo and research and plan for the future, we may find opportunities for meaningful business and technology transformation benefiting employees and customers alike.

Answer these questions first before migrating to AWS

Getting ready to migrate to the Amazon Web Services (AWS) Cloud? You aren’t alone. Companies that are looking to modernize existing business applications often realize the best way to do so is to migrate them to the cloud. By doing so, you can improve agility, performance, and cost savings by moving all, or a key subset, of your workloads to the cloud.

Before you start migrating workloads, you have a few key questions to answer. First, you need to determine what the ideal end state looks like for your organization. Is it hybrid
or all-in on the cloud? Next, you need to consider which workloads are the right ones to migrate, and in what order. Following that step, you need to decide what your migration approach will be: lift and shift, partial or full refactoring, or supplementing with SaaS. Lastly, you must determine what your cloud-based architecture will look like. What instance types and services will you use? We will explore each of these considerations in detail in this eBook.

1. WHAT IS MY IDEAL END STATE?

The first step in planning a migration is to define your desired end state. What goals are you looking to accomplish by migrating workloads to AWS? Common drivers of adopting the cloud include improved business agility and performance, availability, lower TCO, improved security, and scalability. Considering these drivers will shape the desired end state of your environment: will it be hybrid or all-in on the cloud? What will the architecture look like? Consider which of these common architectures makes the most sense for your organization:

  1. Hybrid cloud with workload separation. This is a common approach to hybrid cloud, locating workloads either on-premises or on the cloud, based on business requirements. For example, static or legacy workloads may remain on-premises, while dynamic workloads are hosted on the public cloud.
  2. Hybrid cloud with workload balancing. In this model, a single workload is hosted across both private data centers and AWS. The workload is deployed in an active-active configuration and is load-balanced between the different environments, or uses AWS for on-demand, scalable capacity.
  3. Hybrid cloud for disaster recovery. A simpler approach is spreading a single workload across the cloud and the data center, using one site for the primary and the other for the disaster recovery, or failover site. Depending on SLAs, you can replicate data and standby systems to the alternate site to be used in case of failure at the primary site.
  4. All-in on the cloud. The most straightforward approach, of course, is to go all-in on AWS. This approach is typically the easiest to manage and is often less expensive than hybrid approaches.

EXPERT TIP: The most straightforward approach, of course, is to go all-in on AWS.

2. WHICH WORKLOADS SHOULD I MIGRATE FIRST?

When tackling a project of significant magnitude, the most challenging part is deciding where to get started. If you haven’t migrated to AWS yet, the best approach is to begin migrating the workloads with the fewest dependencies. This allows you to ramp up slowly, building expertise and confidence before tackling the more complex workloads. Another approach is to start with the workloads that have the most over-provisioned, or idle resources. Industry research suggests that as many as 30% of on-premises servers, both physical and virtual servers, are zombies (showing no signs of useful compute activity for 6 months or more). On top of that, more than 35% of servers showed activity of less than 5% of the time. As long as you right-size your cloud deployment on AWS, these workloads will see the greatest price/performance improvements once migrated.

“Industry research suggests that as many as 30% of on-premises servers, both physical and virtual servers, are zombies (showing no signs of useful compute activity for 6 months or more).”

3. WHAT IS MY MIGRATION

Once you’ve determined your end state and which workloads you will begin with, you must decide on a migration strategy. You may have multiple different strategies depending on the workload, application, and business unit, but typically, organizations pick one of the following options:

  1. Lift and shift. This approach allows you to keep the application mostly as is, and make any necessary adjustments to run on AWS. This is one of the fastest approaches, and there are many migration tools that can assist with the process.
  2. Partial refactor. Some aspects of your applications can remain as is, but other parts may need to be rebuilt to operate properly on AWS. A partial refactor may also leave the existing application as is, and build additional supporting services on top of it.
  3. Full refactor. A full rebuild of your application is the most time- consuming approach, but it also represents the greatest opportunity to take advantage of the elasticity and availability of the AWS Cloud. This could also be a good opportunity to break an application down into microservices or build out a container-based architecture.
  4. Transition to SaaS or PaaS. If the workload you are migrating is
    a commodity application (e.g., email, CRM), or has commodity components (e.g., a relational database), you can incorporate a SaaS or PaaS into the mix. This will help accelerate migration plans, as well as reduce management overhead.

EXPERT TIP: Lift and shift is one of the fastest approaches for migration to the cloud.

4. WHAT WILL MY TECHNICAL ARCHITECTURE LOOK LIKE ON AWS?

The last question to consider is tactical but complex: what will your infrastructure look like on AWS? Which instance types should you use, and in which configurations? Which Reserved Instances should you purchase to maximize your investments? To properly answer these questions, you must look at historical performance data across CPU, memory, network, and disk for servers, and across throughput, capacity, and IO for storage. Decide how much “headroom” you want to give each asset (typically 25%), and then look at the actual minimum, maximum, and average usage across these metrics to determine which instance type makes the most sense on AWS. A virtual machine is considered undersized when the amount of CPU demand peaks above 70% for more than 1% of any 1 hour. On the other hand, a virtual machine is considered oversized when the amount of CPU demand is below 30% for more than 1% of the time during a 7-day period. Looking at 30 days of history is sufficient because it is easy to scale up resources on the cloud if you need to. When going through this process, it’s critical to normalize for different generations of physical infrastructure.

EXPERT TIP: Typically, organizations give each asset 25% for headroom.