Determining Efficient Compute, Storage, and Network Requirements in the Cloud

Discover strategies for determining efficient compute, storage, and network requirements for your cloud environment.

Carolyn Norton

Director of Cloud

Follow Me:

Table of Content

    Many organizations continue to capitalize on the technical and financial flexibility, efficiencies, and capabilities available in the cloud that aren’t possible with on-premises IT infrastructure. However, if you’re new to it, the cloud can be intimidating. Cloud terminology such as vCPU, Cores, RAM, GPU, IOPS, throughput, and bandwidth can leave you scratching your head.

    Choosing the right short- and long-term cloud solution up front helps you attain greater return on your cloud business investment. Even though it requires upfront planning, one of the beautiful things about the cloud is that it is highly scalable. This means that you can start small and scale as need on-demand.

    What are the best ways to determine efficient compute, storage, and network requirements in the cloud? Start by defining goals.

    Define Goals

    What are your goals for the cloud? What is your benchmark for success? If on-premise resource is benchmarking a process or application at “X,” do you expect for it to perform better than “X” in the cloud, or at “X”? What metrics are being used to determine the success of the deployment?

    • First, gather the following information:
    • Your corporate goals
    • Current unmet needs
    • Who your key stakeholders are
    • The main drivers for adopting cloud

    Then, together with representatives of the most affected business units, brainstorm, and document goals. After you’ve completed this, have each member rank the goals and justify their rankings in a silent voting process.

    Afterwards, you might have a list of goals that looks like this:

    • Able to quickly deliver results
    • Operational simplicity and cost savings
    • HR Onboarding & Employee Communications
    • Marketplace differentiation and top-line growth
    • Access to services and skills / less skills to hire, train and retain
    • Shared access and collaboration from anywhere
    • Enable decisioning dashboards and automation of business processes
    • Emerging tech adoption like AI, IoT, Data Lakes among others
    • Finance AP/AR processing with AI

    1. Inventory Workloads

    When moving to the cloud, it’s the perfect opportunity to inventory and identify what applications you have, and the most efficient way to move them to the cloud. You must understand what each workload is, and what is required for it to run efficiently. A workload is an application, service, capability, or a specified amount of work that consumes cloud-based resources (such as computing or memory power). That makes databases, containers, microservices, and VMs all workloads.

    Ask yourself:

    • What are the RAM and CPU requirements for your applications to run?
    • What are your networking requirements?
    • How will your cloud workloads interact with other devices? Will they be shared with mobile devices?
    • What resources need to be in place alongside the workload, so it operates efficiently?
    • Is there a workload in the cloud which will meet the defined needs of the company?

    Remember, the goal here is to remove the on-premise file server and move the data to the cloud for high accessibility—eliminating redundancy.

    Consider Retiring Assets

    At this stage, you may want to consider retiring some of your underutilized assets. When you move to a cloud accounting model, retiring assets can produce significant savings in annual operating costs and up-front migration efforts. According to Microsoft, it’s not uncommon for organizations to retire 20% or more of their digital estate after completing a quantitative analysis. Retiring those assets can produce the first ROI victory of the cloud migration.

    BLOB Storage

    You should ask yourself if you need BLOB storage. BLOB stands for Binary Large Object and is generally used for storing media like images, videos, etc. Microsoft offers three kinds of BLOB storage:

    • Block BLOBS: used to upload and store a large amount of data
    • Append BLOBS: used to optimize any operations therefore lot increases system efficiency
    • Page BLOBS: used for paging and contexts witching purposes, this allows random read and write operations to speed up

    2. Maximize Cloud Budget

    You’d like to maximize your cloud budget, and Microsoft makes it easy with some baked in tools. Microsoft Cost Management is a suite of tools that help organizations monitor, allocate, and optimize the cost of their Microsoft Cloud workloads. Cost Management is available to anyone with access to a billing or resource management scope. The availability includes anyone from the cloud finance team with access to the billing account, and DevOps teams managing resources in subscriptions and resource groups.

    Billing is where you can manage your accounts, invoices, and payments. Billing is available to anyone with access to a billing account or other billing scope, like billing profiles and invoice sections. The cloud finance team and organizational leaders are typically included.

    Together, Cost Management and Billing are your gateway to the Microsoft Commerce system that’s available to everyone throughout the cloud journey. From initial sign-up and billing account management to the purchase and management of Microsoft and third-party marketplace offers, to financial operations (FinOps) tools.

    A few examples of what you can do in Cost Management and Billing include:

    • Report on and analyze costs in the Azure portal, Microsoft 365 admin center, or externally by exporting data.
    • Monitor costs proactively with budget, anomaly, and scheduled alerts.
    • Split shared costs with cost allocation rules.
    • Create and organize subscriptions to customize invoices.
    • Configure payment options and pay invoices.
    • Manage your billing information, such as legal entity, tax information, and agreements.

    3. Monitor Ongoing Usage

    Once you are in the cloud, it’s important to monitor ongoing cloud usage, and Microsoft has tons of free tools to help you. A tool such as Azure Advisor analyzes your configurations and usage telemetry and offers personalized, actionable recommendations to help you optimize your Azure resources for reliability, security, operational excellence, performance, and cost.

    Advisor is designed to help you save you time on cloud optimization. The recommendation service includes suggested actions you can take right away, postpone, or dismiss. Advisor Quick Fix makes optimization at scale faster and easier by allowing users to remediate recommendations for multiple resources simultaneously and with only a few clicks. Recommendations are prioritized according to the best estimate of significance to your environment, and you can share them with your team or stakeholders.

    How are your virtual machines performing? Should you consider hot and cold storage?

    Efficient storage management includes migrating aging data through progressively inexpensive storage tiers. When data ends its migration at the cold storage stage, you can keep it for long periods of time at low cost.

    Cloud-based data storage generally falls into four storage classes or tiers:

    • Hot storage is primary storage for frequently accessed production data.
    • Warm storage stores slightly aging but still active data. It costs less because the underlying storage systems don’t have the high performance and availability requirements, but it keeps data quickly accessible.
    • Cool storage houses nearline data, which is less frequently accessed data that needs to stay accessible without a restore process.
    • Cold storage is a backup and archival tier that stores data very cheaply for long periods of time. Restore expectations are few and far between. Security, durability, and low cost characterize this tier. Cold storage in Microsoft Azure is available in the aforementioned BLOB storage.

    These tips will get you started as you think about determining efficient compute, storage, and network requirements in the cloud, but a partner can help you out with these requirements as well. Velosio regularly helps clients during the course of their cloud journey.

    Carolyn Norton

    Director of Cloud

    Follow Me: