Practical advice to optimize savings with cloud migrations

As organizations of all stripes continue their migration to the cloud, they are coming face to face with sometimes perplexing cost issues, forcing them to think hard about how best to optimize workloads, what to migrate, and who exactly is responsible for what.

It’s an issue that’s coming to the fore with the steady migration to the cloud. A 2022 survey of 850 IT leaders by Foundry found more than two-thirds were accelerating their cloud migration and nearly three-quarters (72%) were defaulting to cloud-based services for upgrades or new IT purchases.

Against this backdrop, NTT sponsored a #CIOTechTalk Twitter chat aimed at helping IT professionals optimize cost savings for cloud migrations. Host Isaac Sacolick (@nyike) was joined by a bevy of consultants and practitioners who had no shortage of advice on the topic.

Out of the gate, participants were asked what kinds of hidden costs organizations encounter when moving to the public cloud. The answers reflected the need for companies to properly prepare for cloud migrations.

The “unanticipated” costs of not doing the prep work are legion: egress charges, (semi-) failed moves, moving the wrong things/combinations at the wrong times, failure to capture service costs pre-move for comparison, and so many more. @CPetersen_CS

Sacolick pointed out such issues are not exactly unique to the cloud.

It’s not like enterprise architects and infrastructure engineers were great at capacity planning from the data center days. Cloud has more choices and more cost factors, but greater flexibility and automation can reduce costs. @nyike

The best way to avoid hidden #cloud costs is to read every word in the contract. Ensure your legal team has read ‘Cloud 3.0: Drafting and Negotiating Cloud Computing Agreements’, so they can understand the many nuances of cloud contracts. @benrothke

Asked about the main challenges in migrating premises-based workloads to the cloud, issues centered around planning, strategy and not moving too fast.

Lacking a clear strategy determined by business objectives. Cloud sprawl caused by not having a clear understanding of the full scope of cloud environments. Exceeding the planned budget. Security weak points and failures of critical services. @seiter_daniel

Often in the need of speed, we have seen clients “lift and shift” without doing any type of application dependency mapping, right sizing, licensing assessments, etc., leading to poor performance and high cost. @Bexnfx75Brian

Finding out the hard way 1 size cloud does not fit all use cases, refactoring and rewriting applications to suit cloud when the original application was “tailored” repeatedly over time; latency. @joannefriedman

One key to avoiding unexpected costs is to ask questions of your prospective cloud provider – lots of questions. Among those chat participants suggested:

Will the senior consultants you sent on the sales call be doing the technical work or will you substitute cheaper, more junior consultants? 2. Tell me in detail of similar migrations you’ve done. 3. Explain to me how you really understand our environment? @benrothke

What is the mitigation plan for systems that do not migrate successfully? What experience do you have in a specific regulatory environment? (for example Healthcare, Legal, Finance) What is your success rate in migrating applications/systems? @pdanielwilson

1 Do they have Industry/domain expertise? 2 Do they have enterprise architecture expertise? 3 Do they have Data Management Services as part of their portfolio? (Imo, a clean cloud is a happy cloud) @joannefriedman

Participants agreed, however, that when done right, a cloud migration can indeed help organizations save money in numerous ways.

Speed to market, massive reduction in datacenter footprint, instant scalability for workloads, OPEX vs CAPEX depending on business model to name a few. @Bexnfx75Brian

Facilities costs can drop dramatically with the reduction in size or a complete elimination of data centers. @pdanielwilson

Successful cloud transformation saves more than 50% cost vs. COTS public cloud enterprise deployment. Key is mapping #business needs to purchase criteria. @apstein2

Daniel Seiter pointed out that, with proper planning, the cloud can not only reduce costs, but make them more predictable even as a business grows:

By right-sizing services to scale, thereby allowing for improved forecasting, predictability and visibility into usage patterns for higher discounts. @seiter_daniel

The need for planning was a recurring theme throughout the chat, including in answering the last question, about tips for creating an effective enterprise cloud strategy for a seamless migration.

Ensure all application owners, department managers and executives are informed and involved from the beginning. Create a communication plan from the start to keep everyone up to date on the initiative. @pdanielwilson

Establish a Cloud Center of Excellence or hire a trusted partner. Also key alignment between business leaders and IT leaders is critical. @Bexnfx75Brian

In many respects, the cloud is no different from any other IT project or technology. You need to “identify benefits and risks,” Seiter said. “Business stakeholders must determine the motivation behind their wanting to move to the cloud.”  

Once you do that, he has two more pieces of advice:

Choose the appropriate cloud deployment type. What type of cloud computing strategy should you use? Choose a reliable cloud provider. @seiter_daniel

Ben Rothke took a lighthearted tone to make a serious point that cloud migrations require proper planning:

Use same approach people use when visiting @WaltDisneyWorld. This guide [is] nearly 400 pages as a trip to Magic Kingdom takes lots of planning. If #CIO & #CTO took cloud planning as serious as Disney tourists, there’d be less #cloud disasters. @benrothke

Rothke also advised customers to understanding their roles and responsibilities as well as service providers do.

Every cloud service provider (CSP) has a roles & responsibilities matrix. The CSP knows exactly what they don’t do. Trouble is when the customer thinks [the provider] will do it. #cloud customers must know what their responsibilities are or there will be failures. @benrothke

The parting word goes to Wayne Anderson, for his two-part tweet with this advice:

Hint for #CIO: If you are negotiating an outsource or managed services arrangement, insist on “innovation” mechanic – where the provider … 1) Needs to propose quarterly things that will improve #MSP / #MSSP service or reduce cost …  2) Q or Y based break points where adjustments are made without cost. @DigitalSecArch

Check out the full chat discussion at #CIOTechTalk. To learn more about effective cloud migration strategies, visit

Business Services, CIO, Cloud Management