Throwing Caution to the Cloud?
The Hidden Costs of Moving IT operations onto the Cloud
As the CTO of a Cloud DDoS Protection Service, it would seem that I would be shooting myself in the foot by raising alarms about hidden costs in moving onto the cloud. After all, shouldn’t everything IT (including Security) be moved to cloud, with it’s promises of low cost, high flexibility and immediate scalability? On the surface, this sounds like a great opportunity for CIO’s and CSO’s who are trying to deal with a volatile budget, but like anything else in life, it’s best to take a closer look before committing.
When I speak with our customers, many of whom have been transitioning their system and storage to a cloud provider, we’ll often have discussions about support of their new setups within Amazon, Azure, etc. These migrations pose no problems for the DOSarrest service, and the conversations will invariably pivot into a Q&A on ideal hosting setups within these popular platforms, as I have had experience working with cloud hosting in my past lives. What I have noticed in conversing with these customers is that the same mistakes of the past are still occurring with high frequency even now, which is the pursuit of short term saving without fully auditing their existing setups and requirements. IT managers are still often attempting to take a snapshot of their server inventory and attempt to replicate it in the cloud during a migration, without fully appreciating that they have excess server capacity. This results in buying extra capacity when it is not required. What’s even worse are when IT managers are blissfully ignorant of the resources and processes operating within their environment that typically have little cost, and have no idea what that will look like on the invoice sheet when those same processes get moved into the cloud. Some good examples of areas that get overlooked in the migration are:
- CPU & Memory – It’s a safe bet you could walk into any enterprise datacenter and the vast majority of the systems will be running idle with the occasional 10% CPU load and minimal RAM. Yet each system will have robust specs (eg. 8 core, 32 Gb/s of RAM). Do you really need to replicate those specs in the cloud, even if it is cheaper than buying the actual server yourself?
- Storage –Similar to point 1, you will see a lot of disk space being unused in a datacenter. We all have to deal with growing and shrinking volumes, but have you recorded peak disk usages on a system for 1 day, 1 month, 1 year? Doing so would help ensure you don’t simply get the 5 TB option when it’s not needed
- Data Transfer/Bandwidth – It’s surprising to me how bandwidth generated by a server farm is often ignored by IT managers. BW plans with their upstreams will allow them to be ignorant of that I suppose. However, when moving to the cloud, you could end up with a hefty bill if you are unsure how much traffic your systems can generate during peak loads. You should also be aware of charges for data transfer between regions and zones.
When it comes to Security in the cloud, there are again other considerations one should account for to avoid paying extra costs.
a) Service Level Agreements – Does the cloud service provider have triple 9’s, Quadruple 9’s? More importantly, does the SLA have a limit to the size of attacks it will support? Is there a different price for each tier of SLA’s?
b) Throughput – the Service provider may say that they have Tb/s of capacity, but is there extra charges if there is a sustained attack over 50 Gb/s? 100 Gb/s? 500 Gb/s?
c) Tiered Support – often you will see a different price schedule for the types of support. 30 minute response versus 15. Phone support being extra
d) Cost for features – Are their additional charges for CDN? How about Web Application Firewall? Machine Learning for identifying anomalous traffic patterns?
At DOSarrest we recognize the cost risk for IT managers, and put all services under one fixed price, simplifying their budgetary exercises and minimizing potential cost over runs in the face of an unknown threat landscape. I know that if a customer of ours is fully using the services we offer that have no extra cost to them they can save thousands of dollars a month on a cloud hosting platform invoice.
In summary, do your due diligence. The cloud can be incredibly powerful with significant savings, but understand what your requirements are.
CTO, DOSarrest Internet Security