Part 2: Increasing your Cloud consumption (the sane way)


This article follows on from the “Cloud Migrations Crusade” blog post…

A single tenancy datacenter is a fixed scale, fixed price service on a closed network. The costs of the resources in the datacenter are divided up and shared out to the enterprise constituents on a semi-random basis. If anyone uses less resources than the forecast this generates waste which is shared back to the enterprise. If there is more demand than forecasted, it will either generate service degradation, panic or an outage! This model is clearly fragile and doesn’t respond quickly to change; it is also wasteful as it requires a level of overprovisioning based on forecast consumption (otherwise you will experience delays in projects, service degradation or have reduced resilience).

Cloud, on the other hand is a multi-tenanted on demand software service which you pay for as you use. But surely having multiple tenants running on the same fixed capacity actually increases the risks, and just because its in the cloud it doesn’t mean that you can get away without over provisioning – so who sits with the over provisioned costs? The cloud providers have to build this into their rates. So cloud providers have to deal with a balance sheet of fixed capacity shared amongst customers running on demand infrastructure. They do this with very clever forecasting, very short provisioning cycles and asking their customers for forecasts and then offering discounts for pre-commits.

Anything that moves you back towards managing resources levels / forecasting will destroy a huge portion of the value of moving to the cloud in the first instance. For example, if you have ever been to a Re:Invent you will be flawed by the rate of innovation and also how easy it is to absorb these new innovative products. But wait – you just signed a 5yr cost commit and now you learn about Aurura’s new serverless database model. You realise that you can save millions of dollars; but you have to wait for your 5yr commits to expire before you adopt or maybe start mining bitcoin with all your excess commits! This is anti-innovation and anti-customer.

Whats even worse is that pre-commits are typically signed up front on day 1- this is total madness!!! At the point where you know nothing about your brave new world, you use the old costs as a proxy to predict the new costs so that you can squeeze a lousy 5px saving at the risk of 100px of the commit size! What you will start to learn is that your cloud success is NOT based on the commercial contract that you sign with your cloud provider; its actually based on the quality of the engineering talent that your organisation is able to attract. Cloud is a IP war – its not a legal/sourcing war. Allow yourself to learn, don’t box yourself in on day 1. When you sign the pre-commit you will notice your first year utilisation projections are actually tiny and therefore the savings are small. So whats the point of signing so early on when the risk is at a maximum and the gains are at a minimum? When you sign this deal you are essentially turning the cloud into a “financial data center” – you have destroyed the cloud before you even started!

A Lesson from the field – Solving Hadoop Compute Demand Spike:

We moved 7000 cores of burst compute to AWS to solve a capacity issue on premise. That’s expensive, so lets “fix the costs”! We can go a sign a RI (reserved instance), play with spot, buy savings plans or even beg / barter for some EDP relief. But instead we plugged the service usuage into Quicksight and analysed the queries. We found one query was using 60 percent of the entire banks compute! Nobody confessed to owning the query, so we just disabled it (if you need a reason for your change management; describe the change as “disabling a financial DDOS”). We quickly found the service owner and explained that running a table scan across billions of rows to return a report with just last months data is not a good idea. We also explained that if they don’t fix this we will start billing them in 6 weeks time (a few million dollars). The team deployed a fix and now we run the banks big data stack at half the costs – just by tuning one query!!!

So the point of the above is that there is no substitute for engineering excellence. You have to understand and engineer the cloud to win, you cannot contract yourself into the cloud. The more contracts you sign the more failures you will experience. This leads me to point 2…

Step 2: Training, Training, Training

Start the biggest training campaign you possibly can – make this your crusade. Train everyone; business, finance, security, infrastructure – you name it, you train it. Don’t limit what anyone can train on, training is cheap – feast as much as you can. Look at Udemy, ACloudGuru, Youtube, WhizLabs etc etc etc. If you get this wrong then you will find your organisation fills up with expensive consultants and bespoke migration products that you don’t need ++ can easily do yourself, via opensource or with your cloud provider toolsets. In fact I would go one step further – if your not prepared to learn about the cloud, your not ready to go there.

Step 3: The OS Build

When you do start your cloud migration and begin to review your base OS images – go right back to the very beginning, remove every single product in all of these base builds. Look at what you can get out the box from your cloud provider and really push yourself hard on what do I really need vs nice to have. But the trick is that to get the real benefit from a cloud migration, you have to start by making your builds as “naked” as possible. Nothing should move into the base build without a good reason. Ownership and report lines are not a good enough reason for someones special “tool” to make it into the build. This process, if done correctly, should deliver you between 20-40px of your cloud migration savings. Do this badly and your costs, complexity and support will all head in the wrong direction.

Security HAS to be a first class citizen of your new world. In most organizations this will likely make for some awkward cultural collisions (control and ownership vs agility) and some difficult dialogs. The cloud, by definition, should be liberating – so how do you secure it without creating a “cloud bunker” that nobody can actually use? More on this later… đŸ™‚

Step 4: Hybrid Networking

For any organisation with data centers – make no mistake, if you get this wrong its over before it starts.

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