Does cloud change technical debt? (How one organisation saved $0.72M through a simple upgrade)

Does cloud change technical debt? (How one organisation saved $0.72M through a simple upgrade)

Posted by Geoff Davies on Jun 10, 2021 8:07:50 PM

Early December sees tens of thousands of cloud devotees descend on Las Vegas for AWS’s flagship show – “re:invent”. An opportunity to learn, network with peers and, of course, enjoy the social side for which Vegas is so famous.

It’s also where AWS announce lots of new products.

Whilst the COVID-hit hotels were eerily quiet last year, an extended, virtual re:invent took place during which many new products where launched. One of the less snazzy announcements was the “GP3” disk. Which, most people can be forgiven for thinking sounds like technical minutiae.

But by implementing a simple change to switch to this new offering from an older type of disk, one of our customers saved a staggering $720,000 on their annual AWS bill.

So, how does cloud redefine “technical debt”?

Technical debt is nothing new, a recent survey conducted by the Financial Conduct Authority, the UK’s financial regulator, found that over 90% of firms are reliant on legacy technologies, with 33% of firms reporting that “most" of their production infrastructure and applications are classified as legacy.

Of course, these statistics will be of no surprise to organisations across all sectors who operate on-premise, legacy systems.

Technical debt has long blighted the application portfolios of enterprises, whether through old versions of operating systems and databases, or outdated versions of vendor applications, tech stacks and development languages.

So how come so many organisations continue to operate old systems?

In a world of competing priorities remediation of tech debt usually falls down the list. Making changes to old systems is fraught with risk and rarely associated with being a career advancing programme of work, often the opposite.

But largely it's because the applications work. If the system is patched and secured and end users are satisfied with it, it’s difficult to make a business case to invest in an upgrade programme over other strategic initiatives.

That is until the applications move to cloud.

The pace of change with cloud means that technical debt builds quicker and over a much wider range. It’s no longer just about operating systems, databases, or code stacks that typically remain supported by their vendors for many years.

For example, public cloud providers regularly deprecate virtual machine types or bring out new services that provide more efficient ways of delivering applications and infrastructure. Moreover, performance of cloud services increase, and prices reduce, frequently.

Which is exactly what our customer found. Switching from the older GP2 disk to the GP3 delivered a $17,000 monthly saving, but that was just for starters.

A more detailed analysis showed the increased performance of the GP3 meant it could meet some of the needs of the applications' provisioned IOPS drives (IO1 & IO2 types). Many of these could be converted across, which delivered a further $43,000 monthly saving.

Thus, a simple change delivered a staggering $720,000 annual saving or near 5% reduction in their bill.

So, cloud really does change technical debt as we know it. The wide range of cloud services, such as database-as-a-Service, containerisation, auto-scaling etc., provide myriad opportunities to reduce application delivery costs and create a clear business case for change.

Of course, to make this work in practice requires a detailed understanding of the application portfolio to identify where your opportunities are. Data points such as:

  • Which applications are strategic and worthy of investment?
  • The usage profile (flat, predictable spikes, unpredictable spikes)
  • Data security considerations, etc.

Which is where a platform like AppScore helps.

AppScore's rich dataset enables you to determine the age of the application, strategic roadmap status, usage profiles, application owner and support team details and so on.

From the data in AppScore simple reports can quickly be prepared to build a business case for change and rapidly deliver cost savings or technical enhancements whilst understanding the risks and complexity of those systems.

That’s why we call AppScore the science behind cloud migration and modernisation.

If you're ready to find out the power of AppScore, get a demo today.

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