Migrating applications and infrastructures to the cloud doesn’t mean migrating away responsibility for managing those assets. Failing to manage cloud assets leads to spiraling costs and sub-par performance.
Asset management is an essential part of IT, KPMG’s Paul Baguley, Todd Greenwell and Michael S. Adams write. The greater visibility you have into your cloud infrastructure, the more opportunities you have to reduce risk and optimize costs.
Not only that, but asset management can significantly improve the performance of your cloud applications, too.
Asset Management Remains Essential in the Cloud
Businesses sometimes believe that asset management doesn’t matter to the same extent after a cloud migration, says the team at Flexera. “Nothing could be further from the truth. Sure, there are fewer traditional and legacy assets under management, but cloud-based assets have equal footing and deserve the same respect.”
The cloud’s self-serve technology benefits many, but it makes gaining visibility and control much harder. This risks creating a chasm between what IT executives think is going on and what actually happens. This creates cost, compliance and security risks that only asset management can deal with. The organization needs to know what platforms and what infrastructures get used when, how and by whom.
But the cloud demands a different approach. Ryan Stefani, an analyst at Gartner, says the cloud has transformed asset management practices. “What was once a best practice driven by compliance with usage rights dictated by software publishers, now encompasses critical mechanisms that measure and manage cloud services.” These are high-value assets that demand attention and management.
Adjusting Cloud Infrastructures to Your Evolving Needs
Rightsizing — making sure your cloud infrastructure fits your exact business needs — is an important point at which cloud costs and cloud performance achieve the right balance.
This is where the elasticity of cloud resources becomes relevant. That most of your resources can scale up or scale down as needed gives your infrastructure tremendous flexibility. Because of this:
- Online retailers can adjust infrastructural capacities to handle spikes in holiday shopping traffic.
- Project teams can scale up their virtual workspaces when they need to bring on freelancers or outside partners.
- Dev teams can create ad hoc virtual testing environments when they need room to develop.
There is an ephemeral quality to these resources, however. That’s natural when you have systems that allow you to build up and tear down cloud environments at will. This makes tracking and managing your resources all the more difficult, notes Noah Simon, director of product marketing at Axonius.
A crucial aspect of asset management in a modern cloud environment, he writes, is to automate processes that continuously look for and identify things that get built inside or attach to your systems. The fact that everything has an API makes this kind of inventory work possible, Simon writes.
Increased Visibility Results Aligns With Cost Management
Asset management is not the same as cost management, but there is a broad crossover between the two. Visibility into all of the assets in your cloud environment is what keeps a lid on your cloud costs.
Asset visibility helps your organization maximize existing infrastructure, reduce unnecessary spend and avoid unnecessary cloud migrations, says Josh Bouk, chief revenue officer at Trax Group. “Similarly, greater visibility of your inventory can help you target exactly where improvements can be made. Inventory accuracy ensures your business can optimize these measures with confidence, based on reliable data instead of guesswork.”
Go back to the example above of a project team scaling up its virtual workspace. By knowing how to rightsize that new environment, the project team can get the most out of their workspace without allowing costs to spiral. Instead, they can create a virtual environment that is just the right size for the project team.
Good asset management can also prevent costly compliance penalties, writes John Mattinson, an operations director at Certero.
This is a growing concern, he notes. Certero’s research shows 36 percent of IT managers and CIOs are worried about compliance after their companies’ employees shifted to remote work during the COVID-19 pandemic. An asset management solution can help you identify exactly where you stand with regard to compliance and eliminate the risk of fines.
Non-compliance costs are rarely anticipated, writes Sandy Marguerite, a field solution architect with CDW. “An audit that reveals a software license deficit — or even instances of software being used outside of licensed boundaries — can result in fines far above the cost of paying for the unlicensed software already in use,” she says.
This also reduces security risks, which can improve cost management. Unauthorized software usage can result in the kind of data leak or privacy breach that can ruin a company’s reputation and balance sheet.
Balance Performance and Cost in the Cloud
Asset management isn’t just about reducing costs. It’s also about optimizing cloud performance, says cybersecurity writer Kim Crawley.
“You need to make sure that your provider honors your Service Level Agreement,” Crawley writes. “Watch your bandwidth and make sure that it suits your organization’s needs at all times. Make sure all of your cloud assets have excellent availability, as much uptime as possible. You could have thousands of users depending on your cloud at any given second.”
When in doubt, turn to an expert partner’s support for help. Cloud asset management is complicated enough without trying to account for cost optimizations. Third-party experts will typically have access to tools that can automate much of the asset management process, along with the knowledge of how to successfully balance performance with costs.
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