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5 hidden and costly weaknesses in your cloud

The cloud is exciting and many organisations are using it to reap its many benefits - like faster speed, reduced costs, and higher security.

Many organisations are finding that they aren‘t realising these benefits without a clear understanding as to why! As the cloud is so complex, it’s easy for there to be things in your set-up that aren’t immediately obvious as the cause of increased costs or security concerns.

After working with hundreds of clients in their cloud environments, we’ve noticed some less commonly known weaknesses that all business users need to be aware of.

We’ve outlined these below with the solutions if your organisation has come across one or more of these in your cloud set-up.

5 hidden cloud weaknesses that are costing your business

A well-architected framework will ensure that your cloud is optimised, fast, and cost-efficient. Failing in even one of the six pillars can be detrimental to your business.

Continuing from a free trial

Many businesses will start using the cloud through a free trial and then continue in the same environment after they make their purchase. Unfortunately, this results in a cloud environment that’s not efficient, cost-effective, or secure.

The reason for this is that many free trial users aren’t experienced in cloud or haven’t planned ahead, so the environment they set up during the trial is the result of a few hours of testing and trying things out rather than a pre-planned strategy and optimisation plan.

Not turning things off

Do you leave your lights on when you go to bed at night? Most likely not – and many organisations don’t realise that they don’t need to have all the elements in their environments turned on all the time. For example, the dev environment usually needs half the items that are usually on all the time.

If all the elements in a live environment, development environment, and test environment remain on in the background (even when they’re not in use), this just racks up costs.

Not using storage strategically

Storage costs money and we see many organisations buying a lot of it, when they shouldn’t be. For example, if businesses are only using a specific set of data once a month, they can put it into cold storage and access it only when they need it.

Not utilising cost optimisation techniques like Reserved Instances

One cause of unexpected costs is using on-demand resources rather than purchasing them in advance. If a business knows it’ll need more power or storage at fixed points in time, or has predictable peaks, utilising Reserved Instances comes at a significantly lower cost than paying on-demand.

Not managing users efficiently

It’s very easy to create users with full admin permissions. Mismanaging these users has proven significantly increase security risks, especially when we’ve been seeing ex-employees take revenge on their employers in recent years.

Another way of mismanaging is not setting them up consistently with templates for user groups, which then makes it hard to manage them at scale and very easy to lose track of privileges.

We’ve written a blog on IAM fundamentals (Identity and Access Management) if you’d like to learn more about managing users more effectively.

How to avoid these weaknesses

We understand that you want to start using the cloud as quickly as possible, but it’s vital to plan ahead and approach it as strategically as you would any other major project or investment.

A free trial can show you what cloud can do for your business, but it shouldn’t be the start of your project. Because of its complexity, it’s difficult to know cloud best practices or understand how to structure your environment without having professional knowledge or prior experience. You want to avoid spinning your wheels in the wrong direction.

We recommend working with professionals (of course we will) that have plenty of experience in cloud migrations and architecture to ensure that your cloud project is optimised and allows you to reap its many benefits (more on this below).

I’ve started a project and noticed some of these - how do I fix them?

It’s never a good feeling to realise you’ve made a mistake or didn’t know a crucial piece of information, but addressing it quickly is vital.

If you’ve noticed one or more of these weaknesses, you’ve got a few options to correct them:

  • Undergo a well-architected review - this can be done on your own (with a template purchased from the marketplace) or with a partner. This review will give you a detailed view of your current security and compliance, as well as recommend ways to secure and optimise your environment in each of the AWS Well-Architected Pillars

  • Work with a knowledgeable partner - carrying on from the above point, once you’ve identified your weaknesses and ways to fix them, the best path forward is to work with a partner. This partner will create and migrate you into a new environment free of weaknesses to ensure that you end up with a robust and secure set-up

The ROI of working with a cloud partner

While it might seem costly to hire a partner to help migrate you to the cloud or correct mistakes, the long-term benefits will more than pay for the costs:

Fewer outages - with a robust environment, you’ll be less likely to suffer outages. This reliability will be rewarded with customers being able to access your business at any time - especially in the event of a large spike in demand

A predictable bill - by optimising your set-up and using resources strategically, your monthly bill won’t have any surprises or unexplained charges. This means that you’ll be able to invest your budget in other valuable projects

Greener outcome - by reducing the resources you use, you’re improving the sustainability of your own cloud environment, as well as the planet. While cloud is already green, it doesn’t hurt to do more, especially when this also reduces costs for you

Higher security - a well-architected approach leads to a secure environment. You can reduce your vulnerability to security breaches or attacks, as well as avoid the reputational and monetary damage of a successful breach

Start (or continue) cloud on the right foot

Having a robust cloud environment sets your business up for success, but it’s not easy to achieve without prior knowledge and experience. A professional will be able to help you avoid weaknesses in your set-up and create long-term value for your business.

If you’d like to discuss improving your cloud set-up, you can contact us today.

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