The future of cloud and edge optimisation

Today’s blog summary

The big names in public cloud have introduced businesses across the world to data-driven innovation and new levels of operational agility. It is why cloud growth has been so rapid and why, unfortunately, cost is now becoming a major focus for many enterprises using the major hyperscalers.

Hybrid working practices and the necessity of employing SaaS applications in everyday conduct of business continue to push many organisations into the cloud. The typical enterprise may now use as many as 1,200 different clouds, including familiar applications such as Microsoft Exchange or Salesforce. Virtualisation and containerisation also continue to make the big hyperscalers more attractive as platforms. Gartner predicts that 95% of new digital workloads will be on cloud-native platforms by 2025, compared with 30% last year. 

Alongside their expanding use of cloud environments, enterprises must now prepare for the next big infrastructure event – the advent of edge computing, 5G, and the adoption of AI and machine learning applications. 

Cost problems emerge

As cloud deployments rise, control over costs has become an ever more pressing topic, with even The Economist asking whether what enterprises spend on the services of Google, Microsoft, AWS and Alibaba is fully justified in business terms.

Along with resource flexibility, innovation and agility, the cloud should hand enterprises great economies of scale. This has always been a major selling point. Increasingly, however, many companies find they lose control of cost. It becomes difficult to predict requirements or optimise storage and computing when faced with the complexity of major vendors’ charging structures. Over-provisioning is frequent, and data egress charges often present unpleasant surprises. 

Controlling cloud costs has become a business necessity, especially when hybrid infrastructure is increasingly common. Market analysts only see hybrid cloud infrastructure continuing to grow rapidly, meaning more organisations are going to run into cost and management problems. MarketsandMarkets, predicts demand will expand at a compound annual growth rate of 17% into 2023. 

But hybrid cloud is also more complex, stretching across several cloud vendors and an on-premises data centre. Even in accountancy and financial services, many organisations are compelled to adopt complex hybrid infrastructure because their business-critical applications are not cloud-compatible. The Flexera 2021 State of the Cloud Report found that 92% of enterprises use multiple clouds, and 82% have adopted hybrid infrastructure. But respondents also estimate they waste as much as 30% of their cloud expenditure – galling for companies that pride themselves on efficiency. 

When fully optimised, a hybrid cloud strategy should allow businesses to use revenue-generating applications while maintaining older, more traditional workloads cost-effectively. In practice, hybrid infrastructure spirals out of control unless companies have access to efficient and user-friendly management tools or platforms. 

Poor visibility racks up costs and misalignments

Lack of visibility is much to blame. In the Thales 2021 Data Threat Report, only 24% of organisations responding said they fully knew where their data is stored. This obscurity of cloud environments leads to difficulties in shaping cloud services and forecasting their cost.

Organisations soon realise that right-sizing cloud deployments for maximum efficiency is very challenging, especially where IT departments are short on experience. The “lift-and-shift” approach often leads to misalignment of workloads. To squeeze the full value of each dollar spent in the cloud, organisations should run as close to their configured performance limits as they can without undermining application performance. Yet in the rough-and-tumble of daily management, resources for a particular purpose frequently remain live longer than required, with unnecessary costs quickly mounting. 

What organisations need for control

Because costs are about usage over a billing period, businesses should be monitoring exactly where their monthly expenditure is going. Cloud providers should offer the ability to analyse monthly invoices by resource type, subscription and where the organisation has deployed it.

In a collaborative process, cloud providers should offer several vendors and services to aid with cloud cost management. They should also offer tools that allow engineers to provide cost optimisation reports, identifying the most suitable environment for services.

Controlling costs is also a matter of strategy. Certain services are simply not ready for the cloud, so organisations should focus their attention and budgets on areas from which they can derive the greatest value. 

An optimised cloud purchasing strategy should adhere to the key principles of discover, plan, implement and decommission, aligning to a cloud adoption and transformation framework. By these means, the framework will deliver continuous improvements, while the ability to use new technologies will save costs and ensure better value for money. 

Current hybrid cloud tools

With hybrid infrastructure now so important for business success and innovation, enterprises also need access to next-generation cloud management platforms. The hyperscale cloud providers already supply tools for hybrid cloud management, such as Google Anthos. This is significant, given the intense competition between hyperscalers, but it is questionable how vendor-independent such platforms are. 

The hyperscalers are also falling behind on edge computing, which is emerging as the next major advance in enterprise IT infrastructure. Edge computing should remove the disadvantages of location, delivering faster, low latency responses through the roll-out of 5G and importantly, by shifting some data and workloads to regional data centres, close to where businesses want to use them. This is the foundation for AI-driven automation, the industrial internet of things (IoT), self-driving vehicles, remote diagnostics, and treatment in healthcare and fast streaming for gamers.

A more comprehensive platform

These highly significant advances are why organisations should be using cloud management platforms that encompass edge computing. A comprehensive management platform will optimise all current cloud deployments and connectivity, enabling expanded use of IaaS, PaaS and SaaS applications while preparing for the edge. 

These next-generation management platforms deliver a complete view of a company’s hybrid and edge infrastructure from a single screen, enabling organisations to reduce unnecessary costs and ensure the best possible performance wherever assets are. They can view monthly expenditure, with invoices available by resource type. These more sophisticated tools assess cloud workloads and provide comprehensive asset discovery, usage reporting and dependence mapping. 

Enterprises benefit from a consistent, all-round, and current view of costs, enabling them to devise and implement their cloud strategy that includes on-premises and edge environments. They can move and adapt workloads for maximum operational efficiency and cost-effectiveness, achieving a tighter alignment of demands and resources through real-time visibility. Analytical capabilities give companies insight into the ways they use cloud and edge resources, enabling them to constantly improve efficiency.

As more enterprises use multi-cloud and hybrid infrastructures, the danger of cost overruns and loss of control increases.  A new set of tools and the development of next-generation management platforms, however, means they can fully optimise not only the entirety of their cloud environments but also their future edge deployments, ready to take full advantage of every potential saving, performance-enhancing solution, and significant innovation. The alternative is to remain stuck with mounting bills and loss of agility as competitors streak ahead.

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Matt joined Pulsant in November 2021 as Cloud Project Manager. With a demonstrated history of working in the Cloud Computing industry, Matt worked as a project manager for NTT Europe and KCOM prior to joining the team, as well as a business analyst for Proact IT UK and Provincial Health Services Authority.

Matt is skilled in SAN, Backup, Enterprise Software, ITIL and Data Center Services, and studied Mathematics with Finance at The University of Manchester, developing strong analytical skills and awarded a Bachelor of Science (BSc).

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