The benefits of Cloud are overwhelmingly compelling- from speed of deployment to flexibility, the Cloud has changed the way we do business. But as the Cloud era matures and complexities grow at scale, one element has struck many organizations: controlling Cloud costs.

Without full visibility and control, Cloud costs can balloon out of control and expand exponentially via Shadow IT and other unforeseen deployments of IT resources.

Managing cloud spend was identified as the top challenge by Flexera’s 2023 State of the Cloud report, ahead of security for the first time in over a decade. The report noted a 39% increase year on year in spend over budget. Respondents also believe that 28% of cloud spend is wasted.

CIOs could end up having some interesting conversations with CFO colleagues with over a quarter of spend being wasted due to inefficient designs and uncontrolled Cloud sprawl. Especially as budgets tighten and resource expenditures are reined in.

The network can play a key role in helping to control Cloud costs. Modernized networking, like Alkira’s Network as-a-Service solution, provides simplification, visibility, and control needed to rein in cloud costs and meet the multi-cloud era head-on.

Complexity Costs, Simplicity Saves

Complexity is a major factor in cost. Cloud computing depends on a complex mesh of networking infrastructure that makes it difficult to see where resources are and how they are being used.

When a new customer comes to Alkira, we often discover that they previously did not have full visibility into all the cloud networking resources running in their environment. The speed of DevOps and the accelerated pace of the Cloud era has made it very easy for resources to be spun up far outside of the purview of corporate IT centers.

This rapid expansion of Shadow IT creates very significant cost and security risks, with cloud-based resources and applications connected into the enterprise networking without company-wide policies and security applied. Sometimes new resources have been deployed without the knowledge of IT. In other cases, the business is paying for resources that are no longer used.

These problems increase and compound in multi-cloud networking environments, where resources are being managed across multiple cloud regions and providers. This is a challenge for the networking team whose job it is to make sense of this complexity.

Not only can resources be underutilized or overprovisioned in a “core” cloud environment that IT is familiar with, for example AWS or Azure, but additional cloud environments introduced by Mergers & Acquisitions or non-IT departments can exacerbate the issue even further.

The public cloud providers implement networking concepts in very different ways, each replete with their own terminology, rules, constructs, and best practices. The learning curve for cloud networking at enterprise scale is steep. Acquiring the skills to build and run multi-cloud networks can add significantly to operational costs. At the end of the day, IT needs to ask itself what is its core mission – running the business or managing cloud networking infrastructure?

Holistic visibility and control are key for making multi-cloud work for you

Managing cloud costs is rapidly becoming an industry unto itself. Public cloud vendors are busily deploying and rolling out cost management tools for their own environments. Third parties are filling the gaps left by proprietary offerings. IT departments are creating FinOps teams dedicated to managing cloud costs.

The latest Flexera report noted that all the challenges faced by enterprises are decreasing in severity except one: managing multi-cloud was a concern for 80% of respondents, up from 72% in 2022.

Several vendors offer solutions that claim to make it easier to manage multi-cloud environments but some of these are based on installing and managing virtual agents that add even more complexity and cost overruns.

The key to reducing complexity and cost is to improve visibility. This comes from reducing the number of windows on the network, not increasing them.

When Warner Music Group adopted Alkira, its networking and security teams already used dozens of consoles and management tools. As Warner embraced cloud, these operational touchpoints multiplied to manage SD-WAN, cloud connectivity, VPC peering, firewalls and security policies.

Ralph Munsen, the company’s CIO says: “This created complexity in operations, more room for error and more chances for security problems. It also meant that every time we added a business, we had to make updates in all those places.”

With Alkira, Warner was able to view the entire network in a single console.

Without visibility you don’t know what you’re spending, you can’t see what you’re spending it on and you don’t know what costs you might be exposed to in future.

Alkira’s cloud network as a service includes a tool named Cloud Insights that provides an easy way to identify unused or unaccounted for resources, improve security posture and reduce waste.

Customers who have used Alkira to move from DIY legacy networking to cloud report savings of up to 40%. Customers already in the cloud, which is most enterprises today, can make recurrent savings through improved operational simplicity and visibility.

Crucially, this benefit is scalable. Our service gives you cost control whether you placed your bets on a single cloud provider or are running your businesses in several clouds.