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Cut down on cloud costs with application resource optimisation

Written by Team Perform IT


Businesses everywhere have taken a leap into the cloud, and having re-engineered their apps to comfortably operate in their new environment, this is now a lifelong commitment. The cloud definitely has its advantages – scale, flexibility, and cost savings are all promised, but they can fail to materialise. This is especially true of costs, which can often skyrocket in cloud environments when consumption habits are left unchecked.

With IT budgets beginning to tighten across the board, it’s now more important than ever to ensure that cloud-based solutions aren’t just effective, they’re optimised. 

To help you optimise your cloud usage, we’re taking a look at where you’re most likely to see inefficiencies creep into cloud strategy, and how to respond, so you can deliver the best experience at the lowest cost.

Caught with your head in the clouds

If you’ve got over the hump of moving your app to the cloud, you’d be forgiven for thinking it’s time to kick back. However, operating your application in the cloud takes time and effort to ensure you capitalise on the economy and advances that your new environment promises.

Accordingly, it’s not uncommon for businesses to see their cloud costs ramp up year-on-year without noticeable performance gains. The result is disproportionately high costs to achieve performance comparable to what you left behind on-premises. This isn’t a drawback of running apps in the cloud, but rather a symptom of cloud inefficiency. There are three root causes behind why you may be seeing this with apps hosted in the cloud: 

  • Overprovisioning: To deliver a consistent, high-quality experience, businesses often set about provisioning cloud resources with the worst case scenario in mind. For example, a retail organisation might see a 500% increase in web traffic on Black Friday. To prevent the website from going offline, the cloud environment would be provisioned to cater to the needs of this peak demand – leaving an environment that, on 364 days out of the year, the business would use one sixth of. While it’s not always this extreme, overprovisioning runs rampant in many cloud environments – small increases in provisioning to meet spikes in demand aren’t always reversed for fear that it might cut back on user experience. The end result is that cloud environments get increasingly overprovisioned over time, ramping up costs.
  • Poor visibility: Overprovisioning is made worse by the lack of visibility many businesses have over their clouds. Put simply, if you don’t know exactly what your app needs to function, it’s easy to err on the side of caution and scale up the resources provisioned, especially with user experience on the line. On the reverse, teams might not be aware of how important another app is in the delivery chain, and leave it underprovisioned, negatively impacting user experience.
  • Human error: While it’s a risk factor in any part of your business, human error is often compounded by the two previous problems. IT teams are often torn between needing to deliver on user experience, while also having to bring their costs back in line. This leads to stress, and, subsequently, costly mistakes when it comes to the execution of your cloud strategy.

The Solution? IWO & AppDynamics

When we’re invited to help our customers bring their costs into check, we often find that a two-pronged solution is the best approach, combining Cisco Intersight Workload Optimiser (IWO) and AppDynamics.

IWO is an automated, real-time decision engine which helps ensure your workloads are running in the most efficient, effective manner, by determining the optimal location for your workload based on what it needs to perform at its best. With that insight, IWO can automatically determine where in your environment can offer the best performance at the best cost, and migrates the workload to the most suitable destination.

This is assisted massively by AppDynamics, which can feed data into IWO to help more effectively determine the resource needs and usage patterns of different applications.

For example, let’s say you have a critical app in the cloud, which is running slowly. Since cloud providers often offer pre-provisioned bundles of resources, you move your application up a size – increasing all the resources available to it. But this doesn’t work, leaving you stuck in a cloud environment which is costing your business more, but not delivering returns in terms of user experience. Scale this over hundreds of apps in a large enterprise, and costs can get out of control fast.

With AppDynamics, you get powerful visibility that helps you to see that your app isn’t running slowly because it needs more resources, but because another app it calls on earlier in the delivery chain is underprovisioned. IWO can immediately act on this information, moving the secondary app into an environment where it can utilise more abundant resources, improving the performance of your primary app, and, subsequently, the experience of your end users.

This is only added to by IWO’s potential for automation, allowing it to run in the background at all times to lift-and-shift containers, microservices, and even entire apps to the locations where they can offer the best performance at an optimal cost. IWO also takes care of the associated dependencies of the apps, which is critical to being able to migrate your apps with speed and agility.

What’s more, IWO can also model how well your app would perform in different environments – so if one cloud provider could offer you far better performance at the same costs, you have the information you need to justify migration. All of the workload orchestration necessary to strike the perfect balance between economics and cost can take place in real-time with little to no human intervention based on pre-determined rules you choose.

Who’s it for?

While this solution can work for any business, it really comes into its own in larger enterprise environments, where hundreds of different apps are operational in a multi-cloud environment. In these situations, the automation within IWO can really excel, and being able to intuitively understand the needs of an app through AppDynamics is essential to optimising the orchestration.

How Perform IT can help

We’re Cisco experts, and have helped deliver this IWO & AppDynamics approach for businesses all over the world to bring costs in line while not compromising on user experience. 

Our expertise helps us integrate the solution into your environment, gather the insights you need, and plan the next steps in your cloud strategy.

If you’d like to learn more about optimising your applications, reach out to us today.

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