Cloud cost efficiency (along with cloud complexity and the quantum orchestration leap needed to achieve a truly cloud-native stance) is obviously a top concern among executives across industries, given the current state of rising inflation, the spectre of continued (Covid-19) infection and the tragedy of invasion.

Thinking back to last year’s discussions at AWS re:Invent 2022 in Las Vegas, many of us were left wondering if AWS leadership were going to provide insight to help companies control costs and optimize their clouds (and indeed their AWS accounts)… but ultimately the show’s focus was largely on new innovations. 

Aurea CloudFix creator Rahul Subramaniam spoke to Techzine this January 2023 to reflect on the cloud industry’s progress thus far and ponder what comes next.

Alongside his role at CloudFix (an AWS cloud cost optimization specialist), Subramaniam is an AWS superfan and a FinOps Foundation board member. He has successfully migrated over 140+ enterprise software products to AWS. 

Cloud cost efficiency road map

When we think about comments made by AWS CEO Adam Selipsky on the cloud big picture, he steered his remarks to address arguments against the cloud and attempted to address critiques that customers often make about moving their workload to the cloud. He offered little concrete guidance on how to optimize AWS for efficiency.

According to Subramaniam, “In this time of economic uncertainty, data and details to drive optimisation decisions are key. There was an opportunity to guide customers on how to optimize their existing spend and reinvest those savings into innovation with higher-order services.”

He reminds us that the key driver for innovation is the data an organization already has. So it boils down to what he calls ‘data connections’ – where we look at how we source disparate pieces of data and how we process it to make it useful. This means we need to get insights from the data, using not only BI, but also ML.

“Companies may be facing uncertainty, but now is the time to innovate. Organizations also need a lot of governance and structure to make sure they are as safe and efficient as possible. Over the last five years, AWS has spent time and effort convincing practitioners that AWS was the place to execute data-driven innovation. I believe they have been very successful in making this case,” said Subramaniam.

We know that AWS wants to convince C-suite and legal teams that it has the right governance tools and practices in place for them to be comfortable hosting their data with AWS. Governance, structure and a standardised way of operating without hindering innovation by constantly copying and pasting data and or creating shadow IT is the key to efficiency.

Evolve or die

“Nobody can predict the future, and it’s impossible to know what will need to be built even a year or two down the road. This is why event-driven architecture is the best approach,” said Subramaniam.

Suggesting that AWS VP and CTO Werner Vogels’ has the right ideas, Subramaniam reminds us that he has once again underlined how cloud is fundamentally different, asynchronous and event-driven at its foundation. For Subramaniam, the principles of distributed applications Vogels used as a backdrop for his words were the perfect example of an opinionated perspective developers have craved from AWS.

“While Selipsky and Sivasubramanian soft-pedalled guidance on how to navigate these uncertain times, Werner’s ‘Evolve or Die’ messaging was apt and to the point. He not only laid the foundations needed to evolve but also gave the audience a glimpse of where they see the next big waves of technological innovations,” said Subramaniam.

The big picture

If Subramaniam presents one major trend in his comments here, it is perhaps the need to stand back and look at how cloud started, where its mechanics place it today and what organisations really need to do in order to embrace these new platforms and tools and change the way they operate – or, in other words – companies need be better at buildings and running clouds.

Could it be that simple? Cloud is still inherently complex at so many levels and a key sub-trend here is the current popularisation of lightweight distributions of cloud and Kubernetes, which aim to make daily use cases simpler (and let’s hope more cost-effective) today.

Let’s see where 2023 takes us.

CloudFix scans AWS accounts, identifies new cost savings opportunities and automatically implements fixes – it runs continuously in the background, so users can realise what is claimed to be 15-60% per AWS service in compounding savings. Rahul Subramaniam is also the founder and co-host of AWS Insiders, an industry podcast offering a ‘no-holds-barred’ look at the state and future of AWS and cloud computing.

Image credit: Adrian Bridgwater