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10 effective ways to save cost in the cloud: Part 2

Julien Lehmann
Director of Cloud GTM JAPAC

Following up on my previous blog post on cost management in the cloud, I’m proposing you five more ways to enjoy your journey to the cloud.

One thing that the cloud promises is to decrease your cost. So, when you lead such a transformation, you have to ensure that you deliver. I can’t stress enough how cost control skills are mission-critical to the success of your application. If the previous top five tips didn’t deliver enough cost-saving to your organization, let’s dig further and explore other possibilities for you to adjust your cost without impacting your performance.

6. Consolidate your databases

So, you moved your databases from on-premises to the cloud, but each runs on a different virtual machine (VM) or bare metal server. Maybe you run different database versions or even different purpose-built database solutions so that each can deliver on their specialties, such as data warehouse, transactional database, key-value pair database, graph database, or JSON database. Each of them requires different compute, storage, and skillsets to maintain them. Think of all the inefficiencies accumulated over time as your DevOps team keeps creating database systems when they want to gather specific new insights on data. Add to that the need to learn a new skill set, the time spent to manage each database, and the increased risk for a data breach, and you end up with a perfect storm situation.

Fortunately, by multiplying data silos and data copies, fragmenting information divided by data type and workload is not unavoidable, and we can eliminate it.

Oracle’s 21c Converged Database is a multitenant database that supports Container Database (CDB), which can be plugged or unplugged easily, and numerous data models workloads and development approaches within a single database. This managed database can run in Oracle Cloud Infrastructure (OCI), provisions quickly, and scales on-demand. Adding performance to simplicity, Converged Database is the only database that can run on the Exadata platform in the cloud.

A graphic depicting the Oracle Solution of Converged Database

This consolidated architecture greatly increases the number of databases that can reside on a single server by over 10 times and allows your DevOps team to increase productivity.

A graphic depicting the contrast between converged and fragmented architectures.

So, don’t stop at moving your databases onto VMs. Consider consolidating your database further into a single multitenant database that shows the highest density, shared system resources, and single data source for more consistent analysis. Review your database fleet, prioritize them, eliminate the unused ones, and consolidate the others on a high-density multitenant solution.

We’ve seen numerous projects where DevOps teams collaborated to consolidate their numerous databases into one multitenant database, multiplying their performance and reducing their cloud cost and their operation cost as they delegated management tasks to Oracle.

7. Listen to your advisor

It’s easy to deploy an instance for a project and then forget to shut it down. How do you track your resources and verify if your resources aren’t oversized? If you’re by yourself, it’s hard, and many teams deal with orphaned instances or unattached block volumes that have no ownership but continue to generate costs. Shadow IT projects similarly produce poorly accounted for resources in the cloud. To avoid this unfortunate situation, listen to your advisor Oracle Cloud Advisor in OCI.

Cloud Advisor provides a comprehensive look into the health of your cloud in a single dashboard and continuously evaluates your resources, searching for efficiency improvement opportunities. So, consult the service regularly and follow its advice.

A screenshot of the Oracle Cloud Adviser dashboard, showing an example Cost Management window with graphics.

More interestingly, Cloud Advisor isn’t just another nice dashboard. It offers you precise recommendations to eliminate inefficiencies, including the following suggestions:

  • Downsize underutilized instances or autonomous databases.

  • Attach or delete orphaned block volumes and boot volumes.

  • Enable object lifecycle management, such as archiving underutilized objects.

You can script the resizing of your instances using a mix of notifications and our serverless function services, as illustrated in Automatically Resize VMs.

So, consult your Cloud Advisor and pay attention to its advice.

8. Involve your stakeholders and automate

In many organizations, I’ve encountered a cloud center of excellence team that acts as gatekeeper, dedicated to controlling developers and operations and enforcing best practices on all new resources created. Creating bottlenecks is not the right way to reduce costs.

I suggest moving the role of this team to the back and dedicating them to scripting the blueprint of the rules in place within the company, using role-based policies, tags, user groups, and all cost management tips described previously. This way, you’re not slowing down the DevOps team and putting up some guardrails in preventing them from building anything at will.

Let your team build what fits within the blueprints and templates that have been laid out. Putting the policy blueprints in place upfront is worth the energy and effort. Then, you can rely on the Notifications service for usage alerts or Budget service for spending alerts, so that automatically all stakeholders can receive alerts by email, Slack, PagerDuty, or a Jira ticket.

By sharing the information transparently with your broader team, you can generate more involvement from the stakeholders. They’re then in a position to take the right corrective action by themselves.

9. Adopt cloud native technologies and containers

Don’t throw all the optimization tasks over the fence to your cloud provider because the cloud has a virtually infinite capacity. Go beyond using compute and storage services in the cloud and exploit all the benefits provided by cloud native services.

The first step of all company transformations is to lift-and-shift your application to the cloud like-for-like and benefit from immediate cost savings and better performance. The logical second step is to refactor your application to go from your monolithic code to a fully containerized application, based on microservices exploiting all the latest cloud native services. These services include the serverless service, in which containers are created on the spot to run your code and then terminated when the request is completed.

The process of containerization decreases your cloud bill, multiplies your deployment velocity, and unleashes your team productivity. Numerous research studies have been published on the subject by the Cloud Native Computing Foundations (CNCF). For example, look at the one from CERN hosted on OCI, scaling to a whopping 320 thousand cores environment and deploying a new cluster in minutes instead of hours.

10. Compare prices and total cost of ownership

When lowering your cost, the obvious consideration is to compare prices. Oracle made numerous bold choices to ensure customer satisfaction, including pricing our compute and storage low. You can see more details on our price comparison page with other clouds and more comparison information with AWS, GCP, and Azure.

See the following infographic on how Oracle compares with AWS:

A graphic depicting the comparison of costs between OCI and AWS.

More importantly, the spirit of Oracle’s approach to the cloud is fundamentally different from the competition. Let me illustrate with the following examples:

  • Network cost is free up to a high threshold: Inbound data transfer is free, inter-availability domain traffic is free, VPN Connect is a free service with no port hour charges, and the first 10 TB per month of outbound traffic is free. Look at the share of network cost on your bill, which can be an easy 20% saving.

  • Many optional but commonly used services are free in OCI: Numerous security services, such as encryption, secret manager, key management service, DDOS protection Cloud Guard, Logging, and web application firewall services, are either free in Oracle or proposed with generous packages, so that you don’t have to hesitate between cost and security. We continue launching new key security services with large free tiers, so you don’t need a second thought before securing your data in Oracle Cloud

So, avoid clouds that are constantly trying to nickel and dime you or lock you in their environment, and pay attention to those unnoticed complimentary services that go beyond compute and storage because they quickly add up. Apply those tips in your environment, and start saving. Share more tips in the comment section, so that the community can benefit from your experience.

As always, you can try all these features for yourself with a free trial. If you don’t already have an Oracle Cloud Infrastructure account, sign up today.

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