Avoid Hybrid Cloud Gotchas: Unpredictable Costs

Rodney Elder


The cloud services industry is extremely fragmented. Not all cloud services providers (CSPs) deliver the same types of services under the same pricing models. CSPs are in continuous technical and economic change mode, playing leapfrog with each other to formulate their own protectable growth strategies. Industry analysts are in nonstop discussions about CSP fee structures and hidden costs, as demonstrated by the InformationWeek article, 5 Hybrid Cloud Gotchas.

Approaching these issues tactically, rather than strategically, is where the fundamental risk lies for cloud services buyers. IT organizations making these decisions need to think more proactively about how they can remove these risks from their sourcing decisions. Here are some straightforward steps to help CIOs mitigate and, in most cases, eliminate some of the more common hidden hybrid cloud costs:

Strategically locate key networking assets to leverage efficient connections to CSPs

Industry analysts and technology vendors prescribe that customers place core network assets in close proximity to network hubs and cloud elements. Direct, secure connections to CSP-owned assets that avoid the public Internet provide the lowest latency and the ultimate in flexibility and control. IT multitenant solutions can enable you to leverage the economies of scale, low latency and bandwidth efficiency of aggregating multiple network service providers and CSPs within the same geographic data center.

Additionally, you should consider solutions that allow for flexible and cost-effective “many-to-many” virtual connections to cloud services. Virtual connections to multiple cloud services and networks, over a single pair of high-capacity links, reduce the time and cost it takes to forge the multiple physical connections required to create a global multi-cloud infrastructure. Virtual connectivity to clouds and networks also enables automated cloud connection provisioning and orchestration that can be easily replicated in other data centers worldwide. Also, virtual connections to cloud services can be turned on or off and scaled on demand, lowering fluctuating reconnection and usage costs.

In Equinix IBX data centers, enterprise tests have shown that businesses achieve an average savings of over 25% on network bandwidth costs when they use an Equinix Performance Hub with direct, virtual connections to cloud services via the Equinix Cloud Exchange. These robust cloud interconnectivity environments are completely scalable and support controllable and predictable costs, with minimal surprises.

Choose technologies and services that enable application pivot points

Application deployment is more dynamic than ever before. Enterprises are constantly rotating applications in and out of their IT infrastructures. One of the promises of a hybrid cloud deployment is that you will gain the flexibility to cost-effectively adjust your application mix at any time. But to achieve this goal, your IT infrastructure must be as agile as the cloud services it uses. Many sellers of cloud solutions are embracing technologies like Docker. Docker gives cloud buyers and architects the flexibility to dynamically migrate applications among environments, enabling rapid deployment and eliminating the technology, cost and vendor lock-in risks that are frequently spurred by application migration between public and private solutions.

Engage help from shared value solutions

Colocation data centers with dense cloud, network and IT service ecosystems have multiple solutions to give cloud buyers a single pane of glass view into managing hybrid cloud solutions and costs. Many cost management tools are available within this rich cloud ecosystem, some directly from cloud service providers such as the AWS Cost Explorer, and pure-play solutions from Cloudability or Cloud Cruiser.

Equinix has partnered with RightScale, which provides cost management as part of its multi-cloud management solution. This capability is particularly critical for buyers seeking to architect hybrid cloud environments. These tools allow buyers to reduce overconsumption by quickly identifying and terminating wasted resources and preventing overuse.

Plan ahead to mitigate vendor lock-in

Look further out, beyond individual projects that require access to a specific cloud provider. This is where things can become the most expensive because the cost of change, if unplanned, is much greater than a well-thought-out strategy that embraces the agility, depth and breadth of the cloud market.

In the case of hybrid clouds, market dynamics will to continue to evolve. For example, a number of hybrid cloud storage solutions are adapting to changing business security and performance requirements by giving users a choice of where to store certain types of data.

Think strategically and simplify

The dynamic nature of the cloud marketplace can make it challenging to navigate, but by looking at the bigger picture, you can significantly reduce the complexity of your hybrid cloud deployments and the cost of purchasing cloud services. Finding a cloud home that offers a rich and interconnected ecosystem of service providers, who are ready to bring your organization sustained shared value, will allow you to avoid many of those hidden hybrid cloud cost gotchas.