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GDS highlights need for cloud spend optimisation

18/02/20

Mark Say Managing Editor

Public sector organisations need to adopt a ‘continual optimisation’ approach to their use of their cloud services, according to new guidance from the Government Digital Service (GDS).

Clouds over lake

It has published the guidance on managing spending in the cloud to help public authorities deal with the variations in costs that result form the ‘pay as you go’ model of many cloud offerings.

Head of technology policy at GDS Rhiannon Lawson and lead technology adviser Tom March said this means that every technical decision could affect its costs, and that while it can make budgeting and forecasting more difficult it also provides the opportunity to optimise the spending.

“You can almost always re-architect or modify your code to see immediate cost reductions,” they said. “By adopting an approach of continual optimisation, the cost of your service is no longer fixed at a level.”

By collecting the data on the usage of and spending on cloud, it is possible see patterns that will help to better anticipate the spending and find ways to reduce it.

Dashboards and automation

Features of the guidance include using detailed dashboards and automated reporting on the cloud spend, and setting up a metadata tagging policy that makes it possible to charge the costs to specific teams, cost centres and programmes. It says that understanding who is responsible for each part of a cloud bill is crucial for forecasting and optimisation techniques to work.

Other elements include identifying and eliminating underused resources, regularly matching system usage to needs, redesigning a service architecture to better fit a cloud-native model, and reducing the amount of unnecessary billable network traffic.

“Not all of the techniques will work for every implementation and they do not all work together, but it can be useful go through the list and consider each technique and whether it could work in your cloud environment,” Lawson and March added.

The guidance comes weeks after GDS published accompanying advice on dealing with lock-in to cloud services. These are part of a wide piece of work in helping public sector organisations to make appropriate choices.

Image by Jenny Jimenez, CC BY 2.0 through flick

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