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Home Office claims 40% cut in immigration tech cloud costs

18/12/19

Mark Say Managing Editor

The Home Office has reported a 40% saving in the cost of cloud services in its Immigration Technology operation.

Hand poking ethernet cable into cloud

The Government Digital Service (GDS) has flagged up the figure in a case study that also identifies the potential for at least another 20% in savings.

It has come from a variety of optimisation techniques for storage, use and resources, moving the approach away from a focus on mission-critical deadlines and expensive on-demand services.

The study says the team picked up seven industry practices to help developers and teams achieve improvements when using cloud services:

  • Using excess capacity that some cloud providers offer at discounted rates. This comes with a warning that it can prove quite volatile as the offers could be withdrawn at very short notice, and it is better not to use these for services that must always be available.

  • Schedule the computing and storage resources to run only when needed, often matching the services that can be turned on and off easily.

  • Use autoscaling – a product offered by most cloud providers – to only pay for the compute time needed. Immigration Technology has incorporated one such product into its build templates.

  • Rightsize components with standard build templates to scale services appropriately for their environments.

  • Re-architect the service to make it cloud native. This can involve switching some services for simple tasks to serverless technology, replacing commercial middleware tools with simpler functions and folding multiple databases into one.

  • Carry out housekeeping tasks such as deleting old snapshots and backups, creating lifecycle policies to manage data, and deleting old data instances that no longer have any connections.

  • Look for discounts on deals that commit to a specified level of usage. These can often be as much as 40% but are often restricted to a specific type of server that must be running 24/7.

Immigration Technology has also begun to use a hosting cost-efficiency rating scale for each service and team, which provides weightings for budget adherence, resource usage, scheduling usage, autoscaling usage, ‘rightsizing’ adherence, up-front usage commitments and excess capacity usage.

It is now encouraging its service teams to incorporate the cost saving practices by doing show and tells on what can be achieved, making sure that product managers understand and use the techniques, and creating and sharing reports on how to use cloud resources.

Image from iStock

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