When people search for wasteful habits in their organisation, they will often look at the moving parts. With questions like “why does this machine work like this?” and “why is this person moving this box from over here to over there?” and “why are these meetings taking so long?” it seems that waste happens when people or tools are doing things in a wrong or less effective way. And that can be true. But there’s also a great deal of waste that comes from doing nothing, especially in the cloud.
Many organisations go into the cloud without a full awareness of what they are actually getting into. With no centralised strategy, and with excessive faith placed in their vendor’s promises, a company’s leadership can satisfy itself that it has sufficient resources in their hybrid cloud setup to allow for secure storage of data along with resiliency for scaling up and scaling down in accordance with immediate market demands.
“Cloud transformation is not just an IT project, you have to involve other business units like Finance, HR, Vendor management, Change management. I also recommend you create a governance board or Cloud Business Office (CBO) to involve all of these teams in the decision-making process.” – Harris Schneiderman, Enterprise Sales Director – Hybrid Cloud Practice, HP Enterprise.
The devil is in the details
But like getting a bad data plan from your phone company, the devil can be in the details, and those details can lead to excessive costs that simply appear on the bill and are paid by someone who has no knowledge that things should be otherwise.
Cloud-based IT application testing is a good example. As Mary Shacklett, President of Transworld Data writes in Information Week:
“The virtual operating systems that are deployed in the cloud for application testing are paid for by the hour, minute or second. This is beneficial for developers during testing because the spend is less than if they had to deploy virtual OSs in their own data centres, where hardware and software is capitalized and expended for over years. However, cloud testing becomes a significant cost drain when the application developer completes testing and forgets to de-allocate the test OS that is now idle, and that continues to be charged for. When this happens, the test OS becomes a wasting asset.”
In this case, it’s not so much the cloud environment that is costly and wasteful, but instead a bad habit on the part of a developer. This does not mean the developer is to blame. Most wasteful mistakes made by people in any area of any organisation have roots that are deeper than the initial activity. This developer might be overloaded with other priorities, with little time to think clearly or run a post-test checklist or might have been interrupted with another priority while actually running through the de-allocation process. So, the test OS stays active, burning steadily, yet invisibly, through a company’s money.
Secondly, the major hyperscaler-players offer optimisation tools, but these may have proprietary limitations that will not extend into hybrid cloud or multi-cloud environments, thus leaving the door open for undetected waste due to the complexity of monitoring such a multifaceted environment.
As a third example, there is cloud sprawl. As its name might suggest, cloud sprawl happens when an organisation loses visibility over its cloud instances and providers. This again is more of an institutional problem than an actual improper action. When organisations neglect to coordinate and centralise their cloud management strategy, people inevitably revert to working within their own silos, with no time or even inclination for thorough communication practices.
This is amounting to billions of dollars in wasted costs in cloud alone. You can add more to this figure if your organisation is paying for more storage or processing than it needs with no way of accurately tracking usage or costs. Processing, by the way, includes transfer costs – one of those incidental costs that are necessary but are counted separately. They are like the cloud equivalent of an airline’s carry-on luggage surcharge. And there is also the idea of overprovisioning. Quite simply paying for more than you need.
Billions of dollars are being spent on cloud-based activities that are essentially the act of doing nothing. In most cases there is nothing illegal or unethical about what is happening – it is simply the result of an organisation’s left hand not knowing what the right hand is doing.
This unknowingness factor applies to individuals too. For example, when a consumer downloads an app to their phone, tries it for a week, grows tired of it and then deletes it, it may feel to that individual that the entire affair is over and can be forgotten. But deleting an app from a phone does not delete the data that was supplied at sign-up. Even if no money was ever paid in terms of subscription fees (during a free trial, for example), the person’s email address, data and password still live on in the servers of the app’s company ready to be used for other marketing purposes, to be re-sold, or even stolen in a breach. The point being for individuals and organisations alike, just because the cloud is invisible and activities that happen there can be easily forgotten by humans, they are not forgotten by the machines that administer those activities, who may still be generating revenue from them.
People are busy with their jobs and their lives and cannot be expected to remember intricate details such as accounts or processes that remain active in the cloud even after their usefulness or reason for being have been forgotten.
But this amounts to digital waste, and worse, comes with a hefty price tag. Being forewarned about such possibilities and being guided on how to mitigate and eliminate excessive and wasteful costs is the type of service that a qualified cloud services provider can and should deliver. It’s part of the advisory role that promises that we are going to look after the customer and not just the customer’s data.
“Make sure your IT provider understands your long-term business objectives.” – Jakub Wolinski, Cloud Services Manager, Dicker Data
For more information about how Somerville can play a significantly beneficial role in your organisation’s life, please contact us.
Download our white paper “Proactivity and Planning: the key to cloud and IT modernisation” to learn more.