Tackling cloud costs and multicloud networking in a bad economy [Q&A]

cloud cost

It's become common for businesses to use more than one cloud, however, service providers have no incentive to offer unified management tools as they want to keep customers for themselves.

This means enterprises end up relying on multiple tools as their cloud footprint expands which is not only inefficient but can be costly. We spoke to Rod Stuhlmuller, VP of solutions marketing at Aviatrix, to find out how organizations can monitor and control their cloud usage and costs at a time when budgets are coming under increased pressure.

BN: What are the biggest limitations inherent to native cloud service provider (CSP) networking?

RS: Enterprise-class visibility, advanced networking, and multicloud consistency. Cloud providers will say they do anything and everything customers need from a networking perspective, and for some customers who only need simple connectivity in very small cloud deployments, this is true. Enterprises need to scale far beyond simple connectivity. They have multicloud and complex routing requirements and the CSPs' lack of enterprise-class visibility creates significant pain for day-two operations and troubleshooting.

BN: Why are organizations struggling to tackle cloud costs?

RS: The value of cloud boils down to agility and speed. Remember the good old days when DevOps folks could simply swipe a credit card and bypass IT? That's changed, of course, but consumption-based billing is still in full force. The positive side of this pricing model is it eliminates upfront capital costs and long-term commitments of the past, but the challenging side is it requires operational diligence. For example, I once heard a story about a test system with a script set up to test traffic sent between cloud regions. The system was inadvertently left running until the monthly cloud bill appeared with a $70,000 increase…Whoops! These types of oversights combined with the complexity of different cloud charges, such as egress networking charges, are not always well understood, creating surprises and overspending.

BN: As recession concerns grow, how can organizations eliminate inefficiencies and optimize their cloud spending?

RS: Better operational visibility. This allows businesses to identify growing cost trends or anomalies before they become an issue. As previously mentioned, there are some unique and sometimes difficult-to-track CSP costs, not the least of which are egress costs. CSPs charge for their networking services in two ways; per-hour connection fees and per-GB data transfer fees. Connection fees are static and very predictable, based solely on the size of your cloud network. Data transfer costs are more dynamic and vary based on the amount of network traffic and where that traffic is going. There are varying charges for Internet egress, regional egress, availability zone egress, and private interconnect egress. The monthly sum of these data transfer charges can be surprising, if not considered in the network architecture. For example, AWS inter-region traffic that leverages VPC peering will have half the data transfer cost of AWS Transit Gateway connectivity. This is one reason an Aviatrix multicloud networking solution ends up costing less than native cloud networking.

BN: Enterprises in the tech sector are cost-cutting and generally trimming down. Have you seen this impact their approach to cloud networking?

RS: Yes, absolutely, in a positive way. This is not limited to the tech sector; this is happening to businesses across the board. In good times IT can throw people at problems, in cost-cutting times teams are expected to do more with less. A consistent, simplified, well-architected multicloud networking approach requires fewer human resources to operate. Additionally, those resources don't need to be the most valuable, highest-cost resources in the company. To free up those higher-value resources for other business-critical projects, many IT teams are training less experienced staff to operate a multicloud network. In fact, several have adopted the Aviatrix Certified Engineer (ACE) curriculum internally, encouraging certifications to drive career progression and build lean, but skilled teams.

BN: What role does multicloud networking play in offering visibility and insights into cloud costs?

RS: Multicloud networking allows businesses to have better consistency across multiple cloud environments. Consistency in automation and operational visibility reduces costs of both the time and expertise required to support business-critical applications and keep those critical systems working.

BN: What are the key considerations for enterprises moving to a multicloud networking architecture?

RS: Cloud networking is often considered 'transparent', like electricity, by enterprise application teams and other consumers. However, infrastructure operations teams require specialized expertise and underlying technology to deliver the agility and perceived transparency that lines of business expect of cloud-based services.

  • Create consistency in and across multiple public clouds:
    A modern cloud networking solution should be comprised of a centralized control plane and a cloud-agnostic distributed data plane. The control plane should leverage and control native cloud services where possible, then take full advantage of built-in controls and telemetry offered by the cloud-agnostic data plane to deliver consistent networking, security, and operational visibility in and across an organization's public cloud platforms.
  • Actually simplify, don't just mask complexity with scripting:
    Your multicloud networking solution should be fully cloud-aware, not a 'cloud washed' version of a data center solution that doesn't even know it’s in the cloud. Taking this cloud-aware approach will reduce complexity by delivering consistent networking, security, automation, and network operational visibility with a modern API-driven cloud operational model.
  • Architecture matters: Don't take networking for granted. Simple cloud connectivity does not imply easy enterprise-class cloud networking infrastructure, security, and operational visibility. When planning for a multicloud network architecture, invest the time and engage multicloud networking leaders, like Aviatrix, to learn how over 550 enterprises have architected their multicloud network infrastructure.

Image credit: Tom Wang/Shutterstock

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