9 Easy Steps to Reducing Cloud Budgets
Moving to the cloud? Concerned about the cost? Want to know the best tips for reducing cloud budgets?
If you are in the process of transitioning your business to the cloud, you are not alone. IT leaders around the world are going digital. In fact, behind security, cloud computing is the fastest growing segment of IT. With cloud storage pricing on the rise, your company relies on you to keep data organized, secure, properly retained and maintained. Cloud storage can very quickly get out of control, so it is important that IT managers give some thought to reducing cloud budgets.
Taking the first steps to reducing cloud budgets doesn’t have to be scary.
Fear of removing documents critical to your company can be paralyzing. However, failure to act can mean gigs of redundancy, obsolete files and general chaos. Enough is enough. Let’s slash your company’s cloud storage budget with 10 amazing tips.
The first few tips have to do with what you, the IT manager, can do in reducing cloud budgets. A lot of cloud storage pricing depends on what features you purchase and how resources are being managed. Understanding what you need will allow you to develop more effective policies for more efficient storage management and then tailor cloud purchase decisions to those needs.
1. Evaluate How Data is Being Used
You can save a lot of money and overtime hours if you look at how data is currently being used and ask some questions. This will help you understand what policies are needed and what isn’t being enforced. Additionally, it allows you to consider what the true needs of your company are in terms of bells and whistles that various cloud services may offer for a premium.
To cut cloud storage costs:
- Look at where files are being stored. Is a disproportionate amount of storage being used by a certain department? There’s a good place to start.
- Drill down.What is being stored? File Sizes? Formats? Multiple Versions? Multiple Locations? Last Updated or Viewed? What does this tell you about the ways that people are using or misusing storage space?
- Consider IOPS, Latency.How quickly do these people need to access data and how much data is being transferred at any given time? Is your company paying for faster retrieval of more data than it is actually using? Occasional data bottlenecks can generate complaints, but is preventing them worth the additional money spent?
2. Better define access and Control Policies
This is often among the most challenging pieces of data management. That said, having an access control policy is essential to reducing cloud budgets. Based upon what you learned in reviewing how data is used, you can really begin to tailor a policy to your company’s unique needs.
To cut cloud storage costs:
- Assure access groups are defined. Are access groups organized so that access can be granted or revoked easily, as needed—individually or in bulk? According to a recent survey performed by the Ponemon Institute, 62% of users acknowledged that they have access to data they shouldn’t. Don’t let this be your company.
- Reevaluate access needs. Who has what access? Does everyone in a certain department need full access or should they have read-only or other varying access levels? Can access be limited to certain folders? If 62% of people have access to data that they shouldn’t, more than likely too many people also have the ability to save and add to cloud storage.
3. Streamline your data retention policy
A dynamic retention policy is essential to keep cloud storage pricing in line. Many services will provide you with different options for retention, providing solutions to help streamline storage maintenance.
To cut cloud storage costs:
- Use archiving. Can items be archived on a separate server with minimal features to keep costs low? When files are archived, can versions be combined or earlier ones discarded in exchange for one file?
- Enforce “various” deletion policies: Some of your departments may need to keep documents for 5 or 7 years to meet regulatory requirements, while others may have no need to keep files longterm. Can space be freed up by shortening the retention time in some departments?
Now that we’ve covered off on some initial steps you can take in reducing cloud budgets, let’s take a look at what your employees can do to help. These next rules will help employees have a sense of accountability, which will help drive cloud costs down.
4. Provide Education
If your employees don’t know there is a problem, they cannot be part of the solution. Sharing the importance of their responsibility and what they need to do to use company resources wisely, will help in reducing cloud budgets.
To cut cloud storage costs:
- Communicate a message of empowerment. The message to employees, who have write access is that they are being entrusted with an important responsibility. They should be made to feel important and the responsibility is not to be taken lightly.
- Share expectations via pre-access training. Most work environments have a training portal or at least access to one. A short tutorial on individual storage best practices that requires the submitting of some answered questions to show understanding will help people, who will have write access, better understand the finite nature of storage and how they are expected to manage files.
5. Develop a clear categorization system
For the most part, departments will develop their own systems in the absence of guidance—and, this can be very bad. Going beyond the department folder level and sharing how information is best categorized beneath it, will help departments better manage both cloud storage and their time.
Here are a couple rules to developing a clear categorization system:
- Keep it broad. You can’t set up every subfolder within your organization, but you can provide guidance regarding how digital data can be efficiently categorized.
- Share Best Practices. There are validated methods for digital storage management in terms of naming function and folder usage. You cannot become the folder police in your organization, but you can convey how these best practices not only cut storage costs, but also make the department more efficient.
6. Provide feedback about their usage
It’s human nature. Employees need to know how they are doing.
So to achieve the best results, you should:
- Provide Feedback. If you can effectively do this at a user level, fantastic. If not, the departmental of access group level is something. But keep in mind some employees/groups simply need more storage than others, so keep is positive and non-confrontational. Has the usage gone down or has the percentage that is it going up decreased? These are both positives.
- Take this opportunity to reinforce best practices. This is a great time to provide a reminder about data management. Keep them impactful and concise so they will be read. But never allow them to sound punitive or negative or people will stop reading them.
Now, let’s take a look at the technology itself—and the vendors—the final tips.
Cloud storage is competitive and the cloud storage provider wants your business.
Remember this and negotiate like a boss:
- Score the best features. What do you need and why do you need it? Don’t let them give you features that won’t benefit your company. If your purchase is large enough, you should be able to negotiate some add-ons into your contract for free or at significantly reduced rates. They have secured a happy customer and you have just added tools you can use to help manage the storage, making this a mutually beneficial outcome.
- Get more space for less money. How many departments are using the same cloud provider? Buying in bulk is a win-win for your company and the cloud vendor. Can you consolidate with one company for a “bulk discount”? If you are already a loyal customer with high usage, work this angle to get a little extra space for free or at reduced discount. Smart business people know that acquiring a new customer is more costly than keeping one happy with small perks.
8. Review the Contract.
Take a look at the original contract. This will tell you why your costs keep going up.
A couple of examples:
- Did the original contract include lots of extras you were getting for free, but are now paying for? Maybe these can be renegotiated or perhaps you never really needed them in the first place and they need to be cut.
- Are you locked into a long-term contract with this vendor? If not, is it time to shop around for a better deal for your company?
9. Consider making a switch
There are many options out there for cloud computing and you should do a little research before you jump in or stay with the incumbent just because it’s easier. With increased competition in the cloud storage space, we are seeing costs start to come down. For example, Datto just launched the Datto Drive, which directly competes with Dropbox and Box. It offers similar features, but pricing starts at just $10 a month with unlimited users. As the new kid to the proverbial block, they are incentivizing businesses to use their service with an insane introductory offer, which is: one year, one TB of storage for free. Net-net, if you aren’t getting the best cloud service for the best price, it may be time to rethink your vendor.
Transitioning your business to the cloud can come with a few headaches as well as some unexpected costs. However, as you know, there can be tremendous value to cloud computing. Just stick to these 9 rules and you’re well on your way to trimming any excess costs associated with the transition. If you have any questions about reducing cloud budgets, contact us.