My Head’s In The Cloud

Tools Keep Getting Better

Multi and Hybrid Cloud Scenarios Simplified

Cloud adoption continues to be on the rise and most companies are enacting multi-cloud and/or hybrid cloud strategies. The combination of strategies provides a means for avoiding vendor lock in as well as embracing the realities that some public clouds are better suited for certain workloads, and, of course, some workloads are still not great public cloud candidates.  Two Microsoft tools Azure Migrate and Azure Arc provide great potential to migrate and deliver ongoing management of workloads, whether on premises, on the edge, or in a competitive cloud service. Check out Azure Migrate Databases, Storage, Applications, VMWare and HyperV VMs and more. Once you’ve migrated workloads, what’s next? Check out Azure Arc for a viable multi-cloud, management, monitoring and compliance solution.

Azure Migrate – This is a great video, however, you’ll need to find more current documentation to learn how to migrate physical servers.

Azure Arc – Azure Arc is a game changer. It’s currently in preview so you’ll want to follow its evolution.

Cloud Value Optimization Pro Tip 3 of ????

It’s Not the Journey, It’s the Destination

Step 3 – What does your architecture need to look like. Don’t get me wrong the journey is extremely important, that’s your plan to get to the destination; yes, you need a plan. First things first, you need to establish your end state, how do you determine the best route if you don’t first determine where you’re going?

Using everything you learned in pro tips 1 and 2 you can establish what your environment needs to look like to honor business requirements and intent.  That, of course, is much easier said than done; Where do you start?

Start with Microsoft Azure’s Well Architected Framework, Microsoft’s multi-pillar framework to improve the quality of your workload. The framework consists of 5 pillars meant to align with heuristics for designing a workload to be just as it sounds, a “well architected framework”.

The five pillars are:

  • Cost Optimization
  • Operational Excellence
  • Performance Efficiency
  • Reliability
  • Security

Considering these 5 tenets in your design should go without saying…. But sometimes you just have to say it anyway. Go here for your introduction to the framework and continue digging into the topic.

Cloud Value Optimization Pro Tip 2 of ????

You’ve Got some Explaining to Do

Step 2 is to understand your current state? In cloud parlance that equates to what are you paying for?  This step may sound like common sense, but many organizations stop at taking an inventory. Keep reading, this step is more than just counting beans.

First step, of course, is to inventory all your resources, but next it is imperative to really understand your resources through a series of questions:

  • Why was this resource deployed, what is its business case?
  • What would happen if you turned this resource off?
  • Is this resource satisfying its intended business case? If not, how is it failing?
  • What is the cost of the resource?
  • Does continuing to use this resource align with your cloud intent (see pro tip 1)?

Your environment has a level of uniqueness, think through what other questions might be relevant to understanding all your resources. As you go through the current state exercise you might consider tagging as a means of categorization. If you’re already leveraging tagging and the tags are inaccurate, it may be worth fixing them. If you aren’t leveraging tagging yet, perhaps it makes more sense to put in the effort for only those resources that make the cut in future steps.

Upon completion of this exercise you’ll have a real understanding of your cloud footprint to use as the base for your go-forward strategy decisions.

Note of caution: it is very tempting to start deleting unnecessary resources, you may find that until you establish your go-forward plan that you errantly delete something you should have kept.

Extra Tip – This is a great exercise for Office 365 and G Suite as well, just recognize that instead of resources you are looking at accounts and license levels and their necessity and alignment to business and use cases. It is pretty common to find that your use case and licenses don’t completely align

Cloud Waste: 1/3 or More of All Cloud Spend

Respondents to Flexera’s 2020 State of the Cloud Report estimated that 30% of their cloud spend is waste. Because respondents historically underestimate things like waste the reality is that waste probably represents as much as 35% or more of all cloud expenditures. Can you imagine that? If you knew that your dripping faucet was 30-35% of your water bill you’d call a plumber, right? That’s a rhetorical question, because, you would. Plumbers don’t fix issues with cloud spend, but there are people that do.

By my way of thinking this estimated waste is akin to good ole fashioned shelf-ware, it just isn’t visible, collecting dust on the shelf; it’s “virtual shelf ware”. Sadly, the financial losses are anything but virtual.

The cloud has a basic promise: you will only pay for what you use. That statement is only half the story because you will also pay for everything you use, whether you made good use of it or not. Say that again, “whether you made good use of it or not…” This is the balance you seek in the art of cost-optimization: are you purchasing the right things, the right amount of those things and are you using all the things you’re buying. The cloud is “the future” and as it becomes “the present” it is of utmost importance to continue getting better at reviewing and understanding your cloud bill. Maybe you need help from an expert, maybe you need to become an expert. You can start the journey by backtracking to my pro-tip in a series on cost management strategy here.

Cloud Value Optimization Tip – 1of?

Stay True to your intent

Cloud sticker shock is a real thing; you need to get past it before it turns into cloud regret. There are numerous cost optimization tactics available, choosing the right ones requires some careful consideration. Whether you are wanting to maximize the value of a cloud project pro-actively or reactively, the answers are the same, just the question is a little different. What is your primary objective in going to the cloud vs. what was your primary objective? Why does that matter? If your goal in going to the cloud was to take advantage of near infinite scale and redundancy, then it is probably inappropriate to just start slashing your bill. Conversely, if your primary objective was cost savings then creating numerous layers of geo-redundancy on SSD may be equally counter-productive. This paradigm conceptually reminds us of the triple constraints of project management, do you want it cheap, fast or good, pick 2?

Now, let’s not just assume that with performance-driven objectives that you’re forced to break the bank. There are multiple ways to accomplish most any task in the cloud and each method almost certainly doesn’t cost the same; you are empowered to choose the most fiscally attractive means to meet your objective. Do you see how I did that? You need the objective first; what defines success? Fact is that the key to value optimization is pragmatically seeking the balance between cost and requirements.

If you are not able to answer the question: why did I go or why am I going to the cloud then you or your client are likely to experience sticker shock because you won’t feel like you are getting a good deal.

Extra Pro Tip – Office 365 counts as “the cloud”, if you intended to drop your per person cost to deliver email services and you have extra unused licenses then you are artificially inflating your per user cost.

Rolling the Dice on SQL 2008

The much hyped End of Service (EOS) for SQL 2008 arrived on 7/9/2019 and it was a nothing burger… As we come upon the 1st anniversary of EOS I thought it would be fun to reflect on what happened (or didn’t, as it were). As an IT consultant I saw an onslaught of literature and Go-To-Market/communication plans supported by full marketing campaigns; information was coming from every direction. With unprecedented volumes of information for distribution through countless channels, how could EOS be so poorly received? There was something missing: customers didn’t buy into the hype, they just didn’t seem sufficiently scared. In countless discussions with practitioners and business folk alike, I’ve consistently heard the same things: it didn’t strike fear in people’s hearts and was therefore worth the gamble. That jibes with everything I’ve seen, but Is it more than that? Are people just not fearful of the consequences? What are the consequences?

Well, let’s start with what you lose:

  1. No Security Updates
  2. No Non-Security Updates
  3. No Free Support Options
  4. No new Online Content Generation

If you believe bad actors are clever and persistent, as I do then you inherently believe that losing these 4 things comes along with some risk.

Thankfully, the path forward really hasn’t changed. you can:

  1. Update to the latest SQL version either
  2. Migrate the server to a Azure virtual machine and receive 3 years of extended support for free. Note: You can obviously move to other clouds but you’ll be in the same support predicament you are now.
  3. Move to Azure technologies like Azure SQL DB or Managed Instance and not worry about version updates ever again.

Interestingly, none of these options is terribly difficult or expensive so what are you waiting for? Why continue rolling the dice; you may eventually craps out.

Companies Want More Cloud for Less $$$

In a nutshell, “More for less” is just another way of describing value, and we love value, or a great deal or whatever you want to call it. The 2020 edition of Flexera’s State of the Cloud Report has a lot of available information, in fact, I’ll continue citing it in upcoming posts. The report doesn’t share my exact cloud-value conclusion, bear with me while I connect the dots.

  1. Greater than 50% and 65% of workloads are in public clouds for Enterprise and SMB users respectively
  2. Priority number 1 = Optimize existing use of cloud
  3. Priority number 2 = Migrating more workloads to cloud

You don’t have to be Vulcan to string that logic together…. We are buying a lot of cloud; we are going to keep moving to the cloud and the most important thing to us is controlling the costs of the cloud.

Welcome to optimized value!