What do Public Cloud and a Piggy Bank have in common?

Swen Conrad
Ocean9 Solution

They can help you save money!

Swen Conrad
, posted on
, posted 
September 11, 2017

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It is overdue to write about the virtue of saving money with public cloud. Frequently, I read articles and opinion pieces stating that public cloud is expensive and I am blown away by the reasoning. So time to explain how you can truly save money via public cloud. And how sometimes public cloud can be more expensive: but only if you “miss treat” public cloud and “rob the piggy bank”. - Let me start with the piggy bank and then I will shift over to cloud.

Piggy Banks and their Flaws

Not sure how common piggy banks are these days still. I grew up with them and my kids also still had a piggy bank. And did it help me save money? Yes, at times, but not always. Here are their flaws:

  • Need for diligence
    A piggy bank only helps you save money if you put money into it. So, without controlling the urge of spending, it won’t help. Hence, I really needed to work on saving, it didn’t come automatic. (Hint: same with public cloud).
  • Controlling access and taking money to the bank
    My first piggy bank came with a lock only the bank could open. As a result, I was extremely hesitant putting money in, since I cut not get it out on demand. Later, I had one with a key and while I put money in more readily, I also took it out very easily and frequently. And there was the risk siblings could break in too (not that they every did). Hence, I really needed to control my behavior (and that of my siblings). – Hint, same with public cloud).

For quick wrap of my personal savings story: I was a terrible saver when young, but then when I set myself savings goals with a dream purchase, saving started working for me. Therefore, a piggy bank may or may not help you to save money; and that is exactly how public cloud is, but let’s not get too far ahead here.


Public Cloud – A little bit like a Credit Card

Well, from the intro you know my opinion and experience that public cloud saves you money. Nevertheless, it can easily go the other way and here is why:

  • Easy to Consume
    Key issue behind credit card debt is that you can spend without limits. In public cloud too, you can take our resources without limits, especially if there is a lack of governance and control. And the root cause of high credit card bills or large charges on your cloud account is frequently driven by such a lack of governance.
  • Lack of Understanding
    Many first-time CC users do not understand the poor economics and high interest rates of credit cards. Many first-time cloud users also do not appreciate the risk of having idling resources run on public cloud and are not equipped to manage consumption across multiple cloud accounts. The result of such a scenario: Value achieved from public cloud is low and cost are high.


How to turn Public Cloud into a Piggy Bank – and one that works for you?!

Public cloud makes it so easy to provision and consume resources. This is a key advantage of public cloud. Time, effort and cost spent with procuring infrastructure, deploying it within your data center and then maintaining it (remember space, power and cooling on top of resource cost) are all gone. – In many comparisons, the fully loaded maintenance cost block is not properly considered.

But saving on the management and operational cost of datacenters is only where the savings begin. Let’s look at the most meaningful sources for savings.

Rightsizing production systems for today’s needs

Traditionally, production systems are always sized with the growth of the next three to five years in mind. Hence, it is common to buy a system that is twice the size of today’s needs.

On public cloud, due to the ability to scale as needed, this is not the right approach. Nevertheless, we frequently see companies that apply traditional sizing methods to public cloud. Here a concrete customer example from the medical equipment space:

The medical company needed an SAP HANA with a size of 208 GB per the SAP Quick Sizer tool. In response, our sizing proposed a 244 GB instance on public cloud while all competitors sized this traditionally with a system of around 500 GB, so a factor of 2.5 of the required size per already careful SAP recommendation. This is too big and hence expensive.

With Ocean9, we always provision what is needed today and scaling up, out or down is a matter of minutes without the need for expensive cloud experts.

Multidimensional scaling for SAP HANA on AWS and Azure: Scale-up, Scale-out, Scale-down
Screen 1: Multidimensional Scaling as a standard Action: Scale-up or -down and Scale-out take a Single Click

Turning systems on and off as needed

Mostly applicable to non-production development and test workloads, but also to certain types of production workloads; consider small and medium sized companies that only operate in a single time zone and local markets or productive optimization workloads that are run in-frequently. Examples are Sales and Operations Planning (S&OP) or logistics re-scheduling during bad weather.

Savings potential with turning workloads off is enormous. But you may think to yourself:

“Now I have to remember to turn them off!”

Turning workloads of manually may be error prone:

  1. Risk of forgetting.
  2. Need for well-defined procedures to safely shut enterprise workloads down.

At Ocean9, we have automated graceful shut down of and restart of all the workloads under management. We follow both start/stop schedules as well as detect idling resources that we then start down.

SAP HANA AWS Azure automatic resource stop via idle detection saves cost
Screen 2: Automatic Idle Detection and System Stop - Ideal for Testing and Demos, but also with great utility for Productive Workloads

SAP HANA AWS Azure scheduled start and stop of workloads saves cost
Screen 3: Automatic System Stop driven by Pre-defined Schedule

Getting the most out of Public Cloud Services

Lifting and shifting on-premise workloads to public cloud is a common first step to migrate into the new world. It is not a bad one, but again leaves savings on the table. Public cloud with its myriad of services truly invites its users to rethink all existing practices and approaches. That is at least what we do at Ocean9.

As a result, we are able to provide high availability with a KPI of 99.5% in a cost neutral fashion. And we can increase this KPI during critical business seasons to 99.95% and even 99.99%. This would not be cost neutral anymore for the higher KPIs. Still, having the flexibility to run higher uptime KPIs only for parts of the year is a huge source of savings.

Plus, we are able to provide true cross region disaster recovery in an almost cost neutral fashion, without permanently running redundant infrastructure in the recovery datacenter.

High availability setup of SAP HANA in a cost neutral fashion and SLA of 99.5%
Screen 4: System Availability of 99.5% can be achieved in a Cost Neutral fashion with Public Cloud and Ocean9

Seasonal High Availability setup on AWS and Azure for SAP with up to 99.99% availability KPI
Screen 5: Add a Secondary Site during Productive Operation w/out downtime to increase High Availability KPI dynamically, e.g. during Xmas

Choosing the best Cloud Pricing Model

Public cloud providers offer multiple pricing models, typically tied to the consumption pattern and timeline for a workload. This is something that is handled between the public cloud provider and the end customer and requires case by case evaluation and optimization. Overseeing this step however will cost you significantly.

See this example from our HANA Configurator on how we break down the AWS consumption models for an SAP HANA workload. If you would attempt to calculate this manually, it would cost you significant time and effort again.

Cloud Cost Transparency across AWS Pricing Models for SAP HANA
Screen 6: Breakdown of AWS cost across nine different Pricing Options for a 20 TB SAP HANA System

Governing Consumption

Lastly, like in the piggy bank example, you need to manage cloud use and consumption in an ongoing fashion. At times, your cloud bill will go up and if there are good reasons, like a growing number of concurrent cloud projects that are close to go-live, growing consumption may be ok.

But if your consumption does not correlate with deliverables and business objectives and is driven by the ease of deploying resources, you may want to intervene. Key requirement is to understand who deployed what kind of resources at what time, ideally summarized in a way that it corresponds with your enterprise workloads and not just granular cloud service consumption.

At Ocean9 we govern all activities on our platform. We always can easily analyze consumption patterns as well as project or users that drove them. - And while we do not believe in overly forceful control and governance, just like in the piggy bank example upfront, you need to know behavioral patterns of your team to start building sensible governance and control.

Cloud consumption and operation transparency across all cloud operations on AWS and Azure public clouds
Screen 7: Detailed Log for Long Running Operations - One of Several ways to keep track of Consumption down to the User, Resource and Project Level


The time for smart public cloud adoption for your SAP workloads is NOW. Ocean9 can provide you with highly streamlined deployment and operations environment that makes your life easy, PLUS saves you money.

In turn, the time and effort you can save on deploying core SAP capabilities you can immediately invest into company innovation. Ideally on the same public cloud and as an extension to your Ocean9 environments. Nothing beats full system level access to all your cloud resources as provided by Ocean9. And this is truly different compared to other providers … and will be the topic of a future blog.

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