cloud infrastructure

Cloud-driven Data Optimization

In this new data-driven era, businesses in every industry can collect facts and stats on everything from customer experience to social media engagement. Sometimes, it feels like we’ve gone from starving for data to drowning in it.

These days, we don’t just have data, we’ve got “Big Data” – data in too many formats, at impossible scales, arriving every minute with increasing velocity. These data sets are so voluminous that traditional models for handling data just can’t manage them. Enter “The Cloud.” Modern businesses are increasingly using Cloud Infrastructure to manage massive volumes of data and turn it into something more valuable: insights.

Managed well and analyzed correctly, this deluge of data can guide our most important business decisions: which features to add to products, ways to shorten sales cycles, and how to hire and retain the best talent – the possibilities are endless. But so, seemingly, are the challenges.

If done correctly, Cloud-Driven Data Optimization is a high-value proposition that can generate huge returns for your business. If done poorly, you may find yourself losing money daily while making random decisions that have no benefit to your customers or your team.

The rewards are huge, but so are the risks.

In this article, we’ll cover three strategies for optimizing your data in the cloud.

Implement cloud cost management

If you are cost-conscious and want better visibility and control of your environment, consider pursuing Cloud Cost Management. This is a newer discipline, and one that offers several benefits:

  • Reduce your monthly cloud consumption costs
  • Decrease the time burden on your infrastructure and finance teams
  • Increase the resiliency of your Cloud Infrastructure
  • Improve Scalability (and only pay for what you use)

Two major considerations in Cloud Cost Management are resource optimization and pricing optimization.

Resource optimization helps you choose the right type of cloud resource to complete the job. There are different costs associated with cloud resources, and you must be mindful about over or under-provisioning a resource that could cost you money.

Pricing optimization helps you understand your data usage, credits, and discounts. To support bringing your own licenses, and to help you manage compliance requirements related to your licenses, Google Cloud provides tools for importing images, managing VMs on dedicated hardware by using sole-tenant nodes, minimizing physical core usage, and tracking usage of physical cores for reporting purposes. Understanding how these mechanisms work could save you money.

Questions to ask yourself when determining the root cause(s) of your cloud costs:

  1. What provisioned resources am I underutilizing (e.g. memory, CPU, RAM)?
  2. Am I paying for more capacity than I need? How do I even determine how much I need?
  3. Are my resources being utilized during times in which they aren’t needed (e.g. resources running after business hours that don’t need to be accessed)?

Control Your Cloud Costs with Budget Alerts

Google Cloud customers can take advantage of the Cloud Billing Budget API to plan, monitor, and control costs using budgets and budget alerts. These features allow you to set your target spending and notify key stakeholders if you’re getting off track. Monitoring and controlling costs effectively is important, especially as you scale your business in the cloud. With Google, you can configure a budget to monitor all of the costs for an entire Cloud Billing account (up to 5,000 budgets). This will help keep track of your actual cloud spend vs your planned spend.

Examples for using the Cloud Billing Budget API include the following (Google Cloud’s resources page):

  • Create a separate budget for each of your Google Cloud projects so you know which areas of your Google Cloud environment are spending more than expected.
  • Bulk update all of your budgets after quarterly financial planning.
  • Integrate with your company’s deployment manager to add the creation of budgets to your cloud provisioning workflow.

Keep your data secure in the cloud

The number of reported data breaches jumped 68% in 2021 to the highest total ever. According to the Identity Theft Resource Center’s 2021 Data Breach Report, there were 1,862 data breaches last year which surpassed the previous record of 1,506 set in 2017.

It is essential to practice good hygiene when securing your data in the cloud. To avoid putting your business’s data at risk and protect your customers, keep in mind these 4 considerations:

1. Implement Disaster Recovery solutions

Data disasters can appear in many different ways. One tiny mistake could completely disrupt your operations and cost you a pretty penny. More often than not, businesses push data recovery tests to the backburner only occurring quarterly, annually, or sometimes never.

Once a risk appears, it’s already too late. Implementing disaster recovery solutions can help your business quickly and efficiently recover data to an as-before-state in the event of a computer, server, or other infrastructure failures.

2. Build-in RPO/RTO with your SLA

Recovery Point Objective (RPO) and Recovery Time Objective (RTO) are two of the most important aspects of a Service Level Agreement (SLA). Downtime and data loss will severely impact your business and finances.

RPO is the goal for the max amount of data your business can tolerate losing. This typically corresponds with how often your data needs to be backed up or replicated. RTO is the goal your business sets when determining the max amount of time it should take to restore normal operations following an outage or data loss.

When RPOs and RTOs are known for all workloads and applications, as well as the cost of downtime for a given business, the right decisions can be made to protect data appropriately

3. Data Retention

When it comes to creating a data retention policy, every business’s needs are different. Data can pile up and quickly become overwhelming. It’s crucial for your business to define how long you can hold onto specific sets of data. Retaining data longer than necessary wastes storage space and can be extremely costly. Or worse, improperly stored data could lead to financial, civil, and/or criminal penalties if your business doesn’t comply with local, state and federal laws, and industry regulations.

When establishing a data retention policy, you should:

  • Identify legal requirements
  • Identify your business’s requirements
  • Consider data types when creating your policy
  • Adopt a good data archiving system
  • Have a plan for legal hold
  • Create two versions of your data retention policy

4. Data Sovereignty

It’s important to know that data stored in the cloud may be under the jurisdiction of more than one country’s laws. There are different legal requirements when it comes to your data’s security and privacy depending on where the data is being hosted and who’s controlling it.

Businesses using cloud infrastructure must address data sovereignty analysis holistically. When considering where your data will be stored, it’s crucial to understand what laws will apply and if it will be beneficial or harmful to your business.

If you operate globally, it can be complex to adapt to each region’s requirements. Most cloud providers have data centers all around the world and by tweaking the physical location of each dataset, you may be able to simplify things by selecting one location with the strongest data sovereignty requirements and applying them across all regions. This may seem wasteful, but applying more stringent data protection will benefit your business with additional security.

Data sovereignty also applies to your backups. Depending on where you store your data, it’s critical to ensure they are in line with your region’s data sovereignty requirements.

Explore green cloud architecture

What if you could reduce your business’s environmental impact just by building a cleaner cloud? By choosing the right resources in the right location to meet your workload requirements, your business can make progress towards more sustainable operations.

If your business already has a green energy or sustainability strategy (and if you don’t, you should), including Green Cloud Architecture can help you meet your goals and find out where you’re missing targets. Over-provisioning is the biggest culprit of wasted computing, since it consumes energy that wasn’t necessary. But there are many other techniques in this emerging discipline that can help you bring your Data Strategy in line with your Corporate Citizenship efforts.

When implementing these changes, one thing to remember is that there is always a tradeoff between workload requirements and green computing requirements. Depending on your zone, sometimes you can’t choose the more optimized resource or greener zone based on your requirements.

Won’t this just make everything more expensive?

Not necessarily. For many businesses, there’s actually a cost decrease. The work required to pursue Green Cloud Architecture is the same work you must do to identify, optimize, and reduce waste in your Cloud Utilization. Thus, decreasing your carbon footprint will almost assuredly decrease your costs. Plus, why wouldn’t you want to make changes to contribute to a healthier planet? Especially if it may also save your business money.

Measure your business’s carbon footprint and get recommendations on how to improve it with Google Cloud’s Carbon Footprint tool.

In conclusion

Storing your data in the cloud creates enormous benefits for your business, but can also come with increased risks. Every business’s needs are different, and implementing cloud cost management, securing your data, and using green cloud architecture can elevate how you and your team operate and better serve your customers.

About Tensure Consulting

Tensure was born in the cloud, lives in the cloud, and works in the cloud.

No matter your Cloud needs, Tensure partners with you to evaluate your current infrastructure and determine the costs and benefits of different Cloud strategies.

Our data practice has a battle-tested approach to save you the cost and hassle of doing it yourself. Using automation, we can gather data trends over time and create machine learning models to help predict your future cloud usage. Let us do the hard work so you and your team can get back to what you do best.

Wherever you are on your Cloud journey, Tensure helps you realize the full potential of Google Cloud for your business.

Do what makes you great.
We’ll handle the rest.

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