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Why cloud savings are more complicated than you think

21st October 2020 by 
Dr. Manzoor Mohammed Insight SRE innovation

Authors: Dr. Manzoor Mohammed & Thomas Barns

Estimated read time: 2 minutes

Cloud housekeeping is often low on the priority list. It's put to one side to be part of some future initiative, and before you know it cloud costs have increased with no easy way back. There are 3 main reasons why it’s so hard to get the right focus on cloud savings:

  1. Top executive sponsorship is needed
  2. Time needs to be set aside for engineers to focus on performance
  3. Teams need to be allowed to experiment, learn and upskill


1. Top executive sponsorship is needed

Most teams have a backlog which is driven by features which will increase revenue. A balance is needed between revenue and costs, which needs to come all the way from the top. There needs to be visibility of costs, a cost target and a time frame to achieve that target.

Progress against targets should then be reported to the executive sponsor who is prepared to take accountability for the cost reduction programme.


2. Time needs to be set aside for engineers to focus on performance

Most teams have some time set apart for operational activities, typically between 10-30%. But often this isn’t a hard commitment. With commercial pressures, teams struggle to get time that they want to spend on performance related activities.

Performance is the main driver of cloud costs. Without these tasks being prioritised teams don’t have enough time in their normal operations to pick this up.


3. Teams need to be allowed to experiment, learn and upskill

Teams should be empowered to experiment and fail in production in order to speed up cost saving activities. For an experiment to be useful, it needs careful planning. A framework needs to be put in to do this safely and to maximise the learnings from it. This framework should include key metrics to analyse before, during and after experimentation.

Those metrics are often found in APM and resource monitoring tools (e.g.. NewRelic, Datadog, etc.). Avoid using monitoring dashboards as these will be over a short time frame and use a limited set of metrics.


Managing cloud cost is important. But without committing the time and empowering the teams, it won’t happen. There is no simple technical solution. To solve the problem requires an organisational change to focus on performance.

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