TCG's Cloud Optimization Efforts
We know that anticipating and managing cloud costs is a major barrier to cloud adoption for many of our clients.
From UIT's recent focus-group effort on cloud adoption, worries about costly surprise overages and unexpected service charges are among the top impediments to adopting a prudent cloud strategy. Since cloud costs are based on consumption, and consumption is usually externally driven, variable and unpredictable, estimating a monthly spend can be... difficult. Toss in the lack of transparency into all the little atomic charges and it's downright nerve-wracking. I often use the analogy of early cellular telephone adoption, when folks were nervous about answering their Nokia 3310 and having too long of a conversation, lest they get a whopping phone bill at the end of the month.
To address this, and in alignment with our mission to support your success, TCG is now proactively seeking opportunities to save money and optimize our cloud clients's spend. It's part of our Comprehensive Support service, where we take a holistic view of clients' workloads, business objectives and priorities. We think your investments in cloud-based technologies can return greater dividends when you have a team of professional technologists looking out for your best interests.
Here are some of the measures we'll take to optimize your cloud spend:
- Set up alerts, budgets, and reports to ensure there are no runaway costs or unexpected financial impacts from your cloud investment. We'll get these notifications in real-time and contact you when we're approaching a limit that aligns with your objectives.
- We'll send you a monthly cloud charge statement to show you what you should expect as a charge on your PTA.
- TCG uses each cloud vendor’s native cost-savings mechanisms, such as reserve instances, sustained use discounts, and savings plans, to help our clients save money.
- We use one of the best enterprise cloud account management tools out there, CloudCheckr, to allow us get deep insight into every charge.
- Combining CloudCheckr and our cloud-based monitoring tool, DataDog, provides our analysts with performance metrics and suggestions to right-size cloud servers, to prevent unnecessary and expensive over-provisioning of resources like RAM and CPUs.
- We'll know when resources go unused and are appropriate for termination. Little things like unused public IP addresses can be returned to save a couple bucks here and there.
- Development servers can be configured to run only during normal working hours, drastically reducing the cost of beta or proof-of-concept systems.
So we're not adding to any unwelcome surprises, TCG uses our well-established change management practice to gain your approval before making any changes. You'll get an email to review the changes and send a response before we implement the recommendations.
Sometimes you need to spend some money to save more money.
As a cost-recovery organization, tools like CloudCheckr, like the work of our excellent Cloud Operations Analyst, are expenses that need to be recovered through the fees we charge our clients. Rather than elevate our rates on our Comprehensive Support server support agreements, which apply to physical and virtual systems on campus, we'll be adding a 2.5% surcharge to our clients' cloud accounts, starting in January, 2020. Based on our observations so far, we're confident your cost savings from this effort will greatly exceed this new surcharge.
How will this charge work? Quite simply, we take the amount you spend per month on a provider like Amazon Web Services and add a 2.5% charge to your PTA when we submit our billing each month. If January's cloud bill was $100, your PTA will be charged $103 (since we round up to the nearest dollar). Incidentally, this charge (and that percentage) is what CloudCheckr uses as their pricing model.
You might think that we have an incentive to keep your monthly cloud spend higher, so we gain more revenue. That's entirely contrary to how Technology Consulting Group works. We work to support the mission of our colleagues and the mission of Stanford. By consistently delivering value and retaining the trust of our clients, we'll sustain our operations and grow with our clients.
Noah Abrahamson, Director of TCG