Are you struggling to monitor your cloud costs? If so, you’re not alone. With most AWS services your bills are far from straightforward and it’s near impossible to pinpoint exactly where your money is being spent, and then tie that back to your ROIs and project budgets.
There are now many cost monitoring tools available, which help, but they don’t solve the problem completely. And with so much time spent on trying to monitor spending, it cuts the time left to focus on improving operational and cost efficiency. So how can you make things simple, and save money at the same time?
It all starts with processes
If your company relies solely on an internal team of cloud engineers to manage and maintain your AWS environment, chances are they are stretched. They most likely spend the majority of their time supporting code releases and putting out fires, leaving them little or no time to update and improve their environment with new features and configurations. This leaves you with the problem of your business wanting more - and assuming that now you’re in the cloud it’s easy to get.
This is an all too common problem, but one that can be solved. Imagine if your internal DevOps team no longer had to worry about manual maintenance and deployment work - it would release them to focus on the business. Automation makes this possible.
The benefits of automation
Automation improves processes and solves problems in a number of different ways. The first (and most important) of these is that it will save your team time –they won’t need to constantly manually configure instances and deploy new code, as automation will handle this.
Automation is achievable by creating a custom template for your environment, bootstrapping it and then setting up an integration between Auto Scaling and your automated deployment process. When this is done you will be able to spin up new instances in minutes and deploy them with the latest version of code, with basically no human assistance required.
For your IT team, this means more time available to spend on strategy and improvement, rather than maintenance. An automated system is also extremely reliable and much less prone to errors and failures. It has the benefit of being much faster than a manual system, and in the majority of cases having zero downtime.
How automation saves you
By reducing custom configurations, automation can reduce the amount of time spent fixing things, which saves your team money in the long run. It also improves the process of making changes within your cloud environment. Without automation, the manual procedure is time consuming, especially if there is a failure, as the failure can be hard to trace, and may require a rebuild of the AMI. With automation you’ll have a more confident and empowered approach, which is better for customers and better for the business.
Making small changes by modifying your AWS CloudFormation template or configuration management module may take a little longer initially, but this investment in time pays dividends. When changes are made this way you’ll have a single, working document for every change you make, with timestamps and versions included. This valuable document will save your team an enormous amount of time in troubleshooting and will also end up reducing the complexity of your cloud environment. This in turn will reduce the scope for potential errors down the track.
Automation – short and long term gains
By choosing to invest in automation, your organisation will benefit in many ways, both now and in the future.
In the short term your cloud engineers will experience less errors, have less fires to extinguish and be put under less stress. Your processes will also become simpler, and your product deployments will happen a lot faster.
Looking at the longer term, by documenting every change clearly in the one place, your DevOps team will save countless time that would otherwise be wasted on troubleshooting. Another upside is that things are unlikely to fall apart if any of your valued cloud engineers were to leave, as you no longer solely rely on manual processes or what is stored in their heads. In this way automation provides you with some insurance against the loss in productivity that staff turnover inevitable causes.
Automation is a fundamental component of scale and growth. Whether important members of your team are on personnel leave, get promoted or just can’t share the knowledge as a team grows, automation is the way to keep things moving and deliver results.