TOGA: An Acronym For AWS Cost Efficiency

CloudHealth Tech Staff
Oct. 14, 2019
6 minute read

Although it may seem there are many different elements to AWS cost efficiency, they can be summarized using a simple acronym—TOGA. TOGA stands for Tagging, Optimization, Governance, and Automation; and in this blog post, we show how business can achieve AWS cost efficiency by following this acronym.

What does the term AWS cost efficiency mean to you? For some industry professionals, it might mean selecting the most appropriate resources for a workload, getting the resources at the lowest possible cost, and extracting the maximum possible value for the price paid. For others, it may mean utilizing the resources to their maximum capacity or accelerating the speed at which products go to market.

For every definition of AWS cost efficiency, it seems there is a different strategy—indeed, it could be the case there is a different strategy for each AWS service used. Nonetheless, whatever definition of AWS cost strategy you use, and whatever strategies you apply to achieve it, there is one important thing you have to have in order to measure the success of AWS cost efficiency initiatives—a starting point.

Tag everything before implementing AWS cost efficiency initiatives

In order to have a starting point from which you can measure the success of efficiency initiatives, it’s necessary to know what resources you’re currently using, how much they’re costing, and how much value the business is getting from them. Tagging everything first gives businesses like-for-like comparisons as they move forward with efficiency initiatives to measure the success of each initiative.

Tagging should be global inasmuch as resources are tagged consistently. Therefore, a tagging strategy should stipulate whether or not abbreviations can be used and, if so, how. For example, “environment” can be shortened to “env”, “envr”, or “envir”; and it’s important that everybody uses the same abbreviation structure to avoid having multiple cost allocations for each app, project, or department.

Optimize resources for performance as well as cost

Optimization is most commonly associated with reducing costs, and the majority of cost efficiencies will undoubtedly be achieved by right-sizing over-provisioned instances, purchasing Reserved Instances, scheduling on/off times for non-production resources, and terminating zombie assets (more about which you can read in this blog post), but it’s also important to optimize resources for performance. 

Over-utilized EC2 instances and EBS volumes are likely to be impacting performance and creating a poor experience for the end-user—ultimately resulting in dissatisfaction and abandonment with the product or service. Over-utilized EC2 instances need to be upgraded so that capacity exceeds peak demand, while EBS volumes should have the provisioned IOPS to keep up with application usage.

Measuring success is part of effective cloud governance

Effective cloud governance consists of having the ability to provide strategic direction via rules and policies, measure the effectiveness of the rules and policies in terms of the business’s objectives, and adjust the rules and policies when necessary without breaching the parameters of risk tolerance or compliance obligations. Therefore, measuring the success or failure of cost efficiency initiatives is a key part of achieving AWS cost efficiency—regardless of how you define it.

To effectively govern a cloud environment, you need to have total visibility of the environment. You can’t control what you can’t see, but unfortunately, AWS doesn’t provide individual tools capable of providing total visibility. Therefore, it’s necessary to either use three or four of AWS’ tools for security, identity, and compliance—and jump between each—or take advantage of a third-party solution such as CloudHealth that can provide total visibility of a business’s AWS environment in a single pane. 

Automate initiatives in order to eliminate human error

Policy-driven automation is a great way to enforce tagging strategies, maintain the optimized state for resources, and ensure governance policies are adhered to. It effectively enables businesses to apply rules for operating in the cloud to a cloud management platform, and the platform then monitors compliance with the rules and takes a predefined action if a rule is breached. For example:

  • A policy could be applied that prevents resources from being deployed unless the resource is tagged with a sanctioned name in a sanctioned structure.
  • A policy could be applied that initiates an approval workflow if a user attempts to launch an EC2 instance above a predefined capacity.
  • A policy could be applied that alerts system administrators to instances with an average CPU, memory, or disk throughout of more than 80% of capacity for a potential upgrade.

Automation is a great way to eliminate issues caused by human error. Nobody deliberately misconfigures a resource so that unencrypted data is publicly accessible or so that EC2 instances are deployed with unauthorized open ports; and, provided the cloud management platform is told to look for these vulnerabilities and correct them, these types of issues can become a thing of the past.

Speak with CloudHealth about AWS cost efficiency the TOGA Way

If you’d like to know more about achieving AWS cost efficiency the TOGA way, don’t hesitate to get in touch and speak with our team of cloud experts. Our team will be happy to discuss CloudHealth’s capabilities in more depth with relevance to your business’s circumstances. We’ll also be happy to organize a free demo of CloudHealth so you can see policy-driven automation in action.

The opportunity also exists to take a free trial of our cloud management platform so you can evaluate CloudHealth’s capabilities in your own environment. Naturally, our team will be available to provide training and support whenever necessary, and you’ll also be invited to take advantage of the CloudHealth Academy, which will enable you to tap into the collective knowledge of our cloud experts in order to get the most benefit from our platform.