Optimising cloud costs

The prevailing economic environment means everyone has to mind costs. In the cloud, carefully managing spend can boost efficiency. Inflexion’s Technology Director Mike Arshinskiy invited the Inflexion portfolio to hear from experts in the space on how to ensure they’re maximising their cloud infrastructure. Digital Exchange was joined by Amazon Web Services (AWS), Strategic Blue and Inflexion portfolio company Radius who discussed ways customers can improve efficiencies and make savings by using the cloud.

Cloud migration has been a hot topic for the last few years. Its allure is clear – efficiencies to be gained in innovation and delivery speed – and explains why so many companies are migrating. With a variety of options available, it is important customers consider the most cost-efficient solutions for their business needs. “You need to monitor your cloud spend so you can demonstrate to c-level management the operational excellence you have achieved,” explains Mike.

Cost optimisation is not the same as cutting costs. While it may include the latter, the primary driver is in fact about improving margins and value – ensuring firms are maximising their return on cloud spend.

Radius has been on this journey. Tim Browning, IT Operations Director at Radius, an Inflexion Partnership Capital minority investment since 2017, shared the firm’s journey with AWS at the portfolio event.

The firm has found both direct and indirect cost optimisation strategies work for them, with the use of AWS savings plans having helped the company to save over 20% on its 12-month spend. “We felt a blend of Compute Savings Plans and EC2 Instance Savings Plans was appropriate based on our needs and offered an appropriate balance between flexibility and commitment."

Help at hand

To help get companies started on their cloud cost optimisation journey, AWS offers cost optimisation support for private equity-backed businesses. AWS has been working with Inflexion for three years to drive value in the portfolio by helping Inflexion companies innovate, modernise and cost optimise.

During the event, AWS’s Principal, Private Equity, Abhinav Saxena explained that AWS supports cost optimisation by providing tools and dashboards that allow customers to self-serve and understand cost. AWS then works with Inflexion and portfolio companies to optimise savings based on customers’ goals and priorities.

Third party vendors can help with technical as well as the pure financial side of cloud spend.

Understanding that most people interested in cloud are developers who want to create a product rather than invest time taking care of the billing, Strategic Blue supports with the Financial Operations (FinOps) of cloud management. As such, Strategic Blue provides an outsourced service to buy and optimise cloud in a way that suits clients, providing flexibility and cost efficiency.

In order to succeed with cost optimisation, you need genuine interest. Steph Gooch, Senior Commercial Architect at AWS advised that a successful project has at its heart people who are genuinely interested. Dedicated team players create ambassadors within the team, helping bring everyone together and ensure all teams and team members are on the same page when it comes to implementation.

Head in the cloud with AWS


Savings plans are but one way to achieve cloud-savings. During the discussion, AWS’s Gooch outlined a kaleidoscope of options available to firms looking to optimise their cloud costs. She recommends starting with ownership: Who owns cost optimisation, why do they own it, do they know they own it? Using metadata should help to drive efficiency. There needs to be visibility on costs, with AWS offering tools to help such as AWS Cost & Usage Reports, which contains a comprehensive set of cost and usage data available. This way, customers can receive reports that break down their costs by the hour, day, or month, by product or product resource, or by tags that they define themselves.


She goes on to recommend using AWS Cloud Intelligence Dashboards and describes them as incredibly valuable.


AWS also offers cost optimisation levers such as Reserved Instances and Savings Plans that are simple to implement – the latter being the option Radius’s Tim talked about. Customers can start small and track usage with the dashboards before staircasing upwards with commitments.


Another simple way to save on costs is through scheduling, which enables users to consider the timing of their cloud needs, and losing things they don’t need. Deleting managed databases with no connections and/or idle or underutilised resources can lead to significant savings, however as Gooch mentioned, it’s important to take an iterative approach or set rules to turn off idle instances.


Beyond these simple actions are more technical mechanisms, including right-sizing to find the right instance family and size for your workload.


And once these tools are in use, it’s absolutely crucial to track their efficacy. For instance, Amazon CloudWatch dashboard can track usage and generate Key Performance Indicators to show the optimisation process. Customers can use Amazon CloudWatch dashboards to create customised views of the metrics and alarms for their AWS resources. If a customer exceeds their threshold, AWS Budgets will alert them to ensure there are no billing surprises.

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