Hidden cloud computing costs: Catch them before they catch you

Diminishing server costs have made it harder for businesses to resist the siren call of cloud computing providers. However, running a server involves a lot more than server capacity. If you are not careful, the cloud computing costs for your organization may rapidly spiral out of control.

This is NOT a warning

Do not take this to mean that cloud is the costlier option; rather, you should investigate the charges for the services you are proposing to migrate to and devise a solid business case accordingly. Remember, once you switch to the cloud and close down your in-house infrastructure, there will be no option but to work with whatever the specific cloud provider offers you until you switch to a new service.

So, before moving services to the cloud, ask your in-house team to figure out how your apps work, including dependencies, like access, authentication, and security requirements, and characteristics, like the amount of data flowing into and out of the app and between servers. Also, get familiar with what is included in the cloud service and how the provider’s pricing structure works.

Problems with cloud computing costs start with bad predictions

cloud computing costs

Most business coming from legacy hosting are caught off-guard by the cloud computing costs model. Why? Because they no longer receive a fixed bill every month by contracting for certain services and servers. Instead, the cloud model lets you pay for actual usage.

The approach seems more efficient in the beginning, as you only incur fees when you actually consume services. Unfortunately, it also leaves your company vulnerable to sudden cost spikes in case something unexpected happens.

Even though this flexibility is by design, it shines a light on closely monitoring the daily spend through budgets, visualizations, reports, and alerts. The moment you stop paying attention, a sudden change in usage patterns can severely exceed your budget early on in the month.

Understanding common hidden cloud computing costs

cloud computing costs

  • Migration expenses: It is important for your business to map the migration process thoroughly from start to finish. This lets you flush out any indirect expenses, like backup and data integration. Knowing about all this upfront helps you mitigate the costs easily.
  • Under- and over-provisioning resources: These two scenarios can always drive up the cost incurred by your company. While you are switching to the cloud platform, it is important to strike the right balance.
  • Mismanagement of deployment: Usually, mismanagement leading to operation disruptions occurs due to the absence of automation or human error. You need to rope in a reliable IT solutions partner to help you figure out where process changes and automation must be implemented before migrating to the cloud.
  • Expiration of free resources: The majority of cloud providers offer clients access to free resources. Normally, new cloud users have no clue about expiration dates and resource use thresholds — at least, not until after they receive a sizeable bill. So, prior to cloud migration, it is important for the company to figure out thoroughly what is included among the free resources. Also, knowing about the duration and estimated costs can help avoid sudden charges in the future.
  • Unused resources: Most new cloud users are not in a position to track server use efficiently. Often, servers are left “on” when the company is not processing a job. However, the costs tend to stack up rapidly in such instances.
  • Service misuse: Long-term archival cloud storage services like Google Coldline and Amazon Web Services Glacier charge extremely low fees from users as long as they do not access the data for specific time-periods. If you make a mistake here, you could end up paying a lot more than you bargained for.
  • Sudden spike in traffic: Static hosting, like Firebase, or hosting resources using serverless functions involves minimum management overhead, which is a good indication for your company’s finances. Unfortunately, if you get a bug in code or an abusive bot crawling your site leading to request loops, your per-request charges may spiral may beyond your expectations.
  • Low provisioned capacity: This is an especially tricky situation for databases where output and input depend on provisioning the right capacity or disks for the service. Changes to database or code upgrades can alter the previously expected workload patterns. This is one of the many reasons why many companies prefer not to use AWS Redshift and DynamoDB. Cloud Bigtable provides linear scalability with a limited number of writes in each node.

High interzone networking charges

cloud computing costs

One of the most surprising costs incurred by a company migrating to the cloud is interzone charges. When the right architecture is designed for the cloud, you can use multiple regions and zones to ensure readability and redundancy. But when a specific zone goes down, you must handle that through database replication and load balancing.

If you’re in the habit of running your own networks or if you’re coming from a provider that charges nothing for transfer on its internal network, you might have picked up being able to do “unlimited” traffic with the only limitation being port speed. So, when you switch to a new pay as you go service for all your networking requirements, you might find the costs to be quite high.

Avoiding hidden cloud computing costs

The question is, despite the presence of so many hidden cloud computing costs, is there a way to avoid most of them? Thankfully, yes. It all boils down to how your company limits and plans its resources.

The first thing you need to do is come up with a solid and well-thought-out plan for migration. If you are familiar with each and every step, you are capable of identifying possible issues that tend to increase the costs.

Moreover, limiting resources is one of the most effective methods of mitigating sudden costs. This is possible thanks to the removal of any redundant data via deduplication, minimizing idle time by focusing on scheduling and prioritizing jobs, and creating automated workflow scripts to lower human error.

So, there you have it — hidden cloud computing costs that are really hiding in plain sight. Sure, it might take some time for your business to get the hang of it after migration. But once you do become familiar with the platform, you can harness its full potential and save money in the process.

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