Overview of RightScale whitepaper

Don’t underestimate those instances — 35% of annual cloud spend is wasted!

Eirini-Eleni Papadopoulou
© Shutterstock / ungvar  

Yes, cloud applications are the future. And yes, it is much comparably cheaper and endlessly scalable. But have you ever thought of how costly instances can get when running for day, months, years? Are you sure you have effective cost optimization processes? In this article, we take a closer look at RightScale’s recent whitepaper on cloud cost optimization.

I don’t even know why we still bother mentioning that cloud applications are the hottest topic in the IT world right now. But how can I introduce an article about cloud computing without revisiting the numerous reports and interviews with experts that we’ve had so far; all highlighting the increasing dominance of cloud applications.

More specifically, a couple of months ago, we covered the results of three reports that took the pulse of cloud computing, namely the Cloud Foundry report, the Currents report, and the RightScale 2018 State of the Cloud report.

To summarize the most interesting facts that caught our eye back then:

  • According to the RightScale 2018 State of the Cloud report, serverless computing is the number one growing cloud service with a growth rate of 75%.
  • Currents 2018 report asked the participants to rank the most beneficial aspects of serverless computing as well as the biggest challenges to its adoption. The reduction of costs related to the server provisioning was ranked the number one beneficial aspect, while the difficulty to monitor and debug was the biggest challenge.
  • The Cloud Foundry 2018 report showed that 46% of surveyed companies use serverless computing and that serverless technology is growing at a rapid pace.

Today, however, I will revisit the RightScale 2018 State of the Cloud report and examine one of the findings from a different angle.

SEE ALSO: Cloud Foundry report: Severless computing and container technologies are in full swing

According to the report, cloud adoption is undisputably rising. There is, however, a less visible fact about cloud adoption and management: Over 10 billion dollars in annual cloud spend is wasted! This amount accounts for the 35% of cloud computing spend that is being wasted via instances that are over-optimized and not efficiently prioritized.

While the benefits of cloud are clear, the on-demand nature of cloud use often results in uncontrolled cloud costs, requiring a completely new approach to managing and optimizing spend.

Recently, RightScale released a whitepaper that discusses this issue and digs a bit deeper into the roots of why this is happening as well as offers some possible solutions. Let’s take a closer look.

4 reasons why

To start things off, we need to identify why so many recourses in cloud spend are wasted. The RightScale whitepaper offers four main reasons why this is the case:

Complexity of cloud pricing options  – You may think it’s simple but it’s really not. Even though the main pricing plans seem pretty straightforward, wait until you start skimming through the vast array of specific options.

Difficulty selecting the appropriate instance sizes – If you are not familiar with the performance characteristics of the cloud instances or applications you are deploying, you may be in trouble, my friend.

SEE ALSO: What do developer trends in the cloud look like?

Resource owners don’t have full visibility into cost implications – Since the hourly cost of cloud instances can seem low, resource owners may not fully understand the actual impact when they run instances for weeks, months, or years.

Lack of automation to optimize workloads – The dynamic nature of cloud use means that waste reoccurs even after you identify and deal with it. Without automation, enterprises struggle to dynamically monitor and respond to waste.

In order to efficiently and effectively tackle these issues, you need to constantly monitor and manage certain functions. Most importantly:

  • Idle instances
  • Underutilized instances
  • Part-time instances
  • Superseded instance families
  • Higher-cost regions
  • Unattached volumes
  • Old snapshots
  • Overprovisioned storage class

You can check out the RightScale whitepaper for further recommendations.

There is never enough automation

As we mentioned before, automation is critical to maintaining efficient cloud applications. Sure, manual cleanup of wasted resources is important and necessary during the early stages of optimization, as the RightScale whitepaper states.

Nonetheless, automation is critical to finding, fixing and preventing waste that is bound to reoccur due to the dynamic nature of the cloud.

RightScale lists some key areas that would benefit most from full-scale automation. Namely:

  • Alert on idle/underutilized instances
  • Alerts on instances without schedules
  • Automated stop/ start per schedules
  • Alerts on instances without expiration dates
  • Automated termination according to expiration dates
  • Alert on or delete unattached volumes
  • Alert on or delete old snapshots

For the full list of recommended key areas for automation, you can read the RightScale whitepaper.

SEE ALSO: Does serverless really have a dominant position in the IT landscape?

All in all, it is safe to say that no technology comes trouble-free. Yes, cloud applications are the future. And yes, it is much comparably cheaper and endlessly scalable.

We do have to keep in mind, however, that without constant monitoring and managing, we could neglect some significant costs.


Make sure you don’t miss our tour of cloud computing interview series: 

  • Abby Kearns: “It’s very important for technology to be cloud-compatible, if not cloud-native”
  • Oleg Chunikhin & Terry Shea“Serverless is another step towards improving productivity, especially in DevOps and operations”
  • Peter Meulbroek“Cloud-neutral adds a large amount of complexity and risk to a migration, without really solving the issue”
  • Ross Kukulinski“Observability is an essential component when successfully operating software in the cloud”
  • Carlos Sanchez“A seamless multi-cloud experience is currently practically impossible”
  • Ben Newton: “Kubernetes is crucial for widespread multi-cloud adoption”
Eirini-Eleni Papadopoulou
Eirini-Eleni Papadopoulou was the editor for Coming from an academic background in East Asian Studies, she decided that it was time to go back to her high-school hobby that was computer science and she dived into the development world. Other hobbies include esports and League of Legends, although she never managed to escape elo hell (yet), and she is a guest writer/analyst for competitive LoL at TGH.

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