Balancing Confidence and Delusion in the Cloud

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automobile highway with overlay of virtual cloud and SaaS data highway

In a recent survey of hybrid cloud decision makers, Virtana and Arlington Research uncovered an unusual trend. The vast majority of respondents report having confidence in their existing tools and capabilities for a whole host of activities necessary to manage cloud performance and spend–yet that same majority report a lack of the tools needed to perform those tasks. And the disconnect continues; the survey found that while 85% of organizations feel confident managing cloud bills, 82% admit to incurring unnecessary cloud costs. 

It is puzzling that IT professionals remain confident in their ability to manage and optimize various costs and performance aspects of their cloud deployments, but they report overspending and waste due to a variety of issues. What gives?

The tools gap

Let’s take a look at how respondents rated existing tools. On a scale of 1 (low) to 5 (high)—each rated their ability to perform a range of cloud cost-related activities with their current tools and capabilities. The vast majority said that they can do all these things well (i.e., rated their ability as 4 or 5):

  • Analyze public cloud bills (85%)
  • Customize reporting tools (85%)
  • Dynamically adjust spending as needs change (82%)
  • Predict long-term spending (81%)
  • Forecast usage patterns (80%)
  • Understand cost allocations at a granular level (79%)
  • Get real-time cost alerting (79%)
  • Identify unused/underutilized or abandoned resources (77%)

This data sounds like great news but a deeper look points out the problem. For example, 60% don’t have billing visibility tools, and 56% lack usage dashboards. In fact, of five key cloud cost capabilities we asked about (multi-dimensional analysis tools, capacity/usage planning, usage dashboards, billing visibility tools, and recommendation engines), only 19% report having at least four and 55% have two or fewer.

The ability gap

It was a similar story when it came to confidence in their overall ability (separate from specific tools) to manage and optimize cloud cost and performance. On the same scale of 1 to 5, most respondents said they were able to do the following things well (i.e., rated their ability as 4 or 5):

  • Enable real-time decision making (84%)
  • Optimize cloud rates (84%)
  • Optimize cloud usage (84%)
  • Benchmark cloud performance (83%)
  • Understand fully loaded cloud costs (82%)
  • Align cloud plans to the business (82%)

Again, when you dig a little deeper, this confidence doesn’t seem justified. If 84% of respondents rate their ability to enable real-time decision making as a 4 or 5, why do only 44% report having programmatic cloud-management strategies in place? The remaining 56% use ad hoc, manual, or scheduled processes (5%, 22%, and 29% respectively) which, by definition, are not real time.  

Similarly, it’s hard to fathom how 82% of respondents have high confidence in their ability to understand fully loaded cloud costs when 62% say they have to use several different tools, systems, and programs to get a global view of those costs—and of those, 42% say it takes effort to integrate and leverage those disparate tools to get a global view.

Additionally, if 84% of respondents say they have a handle on optimizing cloud rates and cloud usage, why do 41% report incurring unnecessary cloud costs due to workloads bursting above agreed capacity, 35% overprovision compute or storage resources, 34% overbuy or have unused reserved instances, and 34% have storage blocks that are no longer attached to a compute instance?

Finally, while 82% say they can align cloud plans to the business, 72% also somewhat or strongly agree that limited visibility across the organization’s hybrid environment hinders their ability to maximize value, 66% say it’s difficult to understand whether they’re delivering the service levels required for business success, and 65% report that it’s hard to identify the overall business impact of an issue.

Closing the gap

There’s some evidence that inexperience is one factor contributing to the chasm between respondents’ confidence and the tools and abilities they actually have. More important than understanding the why, however, is figuring out what to do about it. To that end, you need complete visibility into your multi-cloud spend and utilization so you can optimize capacity and costs in real time.

Look for one platform that can provide you with:

  • A consolidated view across all your public cloud deployments
  • Analysis capabilities that let you see and track spend and utilization at varying levels of granularity and in ways that are meaningful for your business
  • Real-time alerting based on thresholds that you set
  • Automatic identification of waste, such as unused compute instances, storage on stopped instances, or unattached storage blocks
  • Rightsizing recommendations
  • Ability to perform what-if analyses based on your requirements and risk tolerances

It’s good to have confidence in your ability to understand and track cost and utilization across your entire hybrid multi-cloud infrastructure—as long as it’s rooted in tools and processes that quickly and easily provide information that’s up to date and meaningful. This is precisely the reason that we launched Virtana Optimize, so that IT professionals can gain that kind of confidence with precision observability to proactively identify wasted resources and expenses and stay optimized even as conditions and options change.

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