Thursday, October 15, 2020
By Maril Vernon and Charles Buege, Fuel User Group Members, Fuel Editorial Advisory Committee
Given the recent popularity and increasing utilization of cloud computing in place of previously self-hosted “on-prem” components in data centers, we at the FUEL user group want to make sure readers are aware of cloud-specific “gotchas” you may have heard around the community.
In part two of our “Cloud Myths You’re Probably Falling for Right Now” series, we look at common myths related to pricing and setup. (View part one here.)
Myth #1: My cloud provider won't make me pay for something that I'm not using.
There is some truth in this, but not across all cloud providers. When VMs are powered down you are not being charged for data usage, but you are still being charged for storing the instance in the cloud. Additionally, regardless of whether you use a feature or service, if you choose to turn it on, the cloud service provider will charge you for it ― but they are usually very upfront about what comes included and what includes additional cost. Many even have cost calculators.
If you have reserved or dedicated instances, cost structure changes even more. Basically, with a ‘reserved instance’, what you are doing is telling your cloud provider that you are committing to them for a term of time. Whether it’s monthly, annually, or even for several years, by making a longer-term commitment, almost all cloud providers will provide you with a cost reduction for making this promise to them that you’re going to remain in their system.
Myth #2: Everyone gets the same price, there's no need to talk to the cloud provider directly.
Data charges are the same, but hosting can have different costs. Reserved and dedicated instances are purchased differently from shared hosting instances. Additionally, if you prepay upfront for a certain amount of storage, your reserved/dedicated scale changes again to save on cost, based on how much you anticipate you will use.
The cloud provider is not out to get you, but pricing is unique to each customer’s usage. Additionally, beware of functions provided by trusted third-party vendors to the cloud service provider ― they can charge you separately as well.
Myth #3: Nothing in the cloud is free.
Not true! Some cloud provider capabilities at a basic level are available for a very low price or, in some cases, even available for a certain amount of compute gigabyte (GB) or hours for free.
It does depend on the level of functionality, depth of capabilities and logging/reporting capabilities, which will help determine if you want the free or the paid tier. But sometimes if you look at the free tier, the lack of logging (that can be compensated for in other areas) and going with the free tier can save you money over the months that follow — especially in testing a new build or experimenting with cloud yourself.
Myth #4: I will just do it “this way” for now. I can change whatever I want down the road.
While the cloud is pliable and flexible, it is much, much, much harder to make a change consistently across your entire cloud environment after the fact. It’s usually better with mass configuration changes to nuke the environment and start over with those changes and variables built in from the beginning.
Conversely, it is a much better use of your time to preplan how you want the environment across all of your intended services set up and decide how necessary changes and updates will be implemented prior to launch. Say it with us:
Preplanning is important!
Naming conventions ahead of time are important!
Identifying what you need in the cloud versus what you can run on premises is important!
This will all save you money in the long run.
Myth #5: I can figure the cloud out for myself…with Google.
Many cloud practitioners before you have already spent time toiling in the weeds of trial and error. Do not reinvent the wheel. Instead, utilize support, watch the training and walk-thru videos, and read the documentation. These resources will actually lay out step-by-step instructions on how to launch and amend most services in the cloud.
Additionally, get involved with the cloud community. Instead of ending up on just anyone’s tutorial, seek out the boards and Discord servers of those who are knowledgeable and use the cloud every day. They likely have the reliable answers you need because they have already been where you are. Yes, you may be told your answer is at ABC link, but sometimes you'll get someone asking a deeper question to help identify what you're really looking to do and help clarify your thought process; or they may have a suggestion for a different approach and can direct you to a solution that could make your life much easier.
Myth #6: I can do everything from the GUI.
You can do much in the graphical user interface (GUI) especially with regards to billing, alerts and most IAM functions. However, the automated reporting and audits of your cloud configurations are all done from the command line. Without this knowledge, you will be manually administering your cloud environment, which will become a full-time job. When done manually, it can turn out poorly.
Automation is your friend and the only way to do that is via some sort of programming language or command-line interface (CLI)/API combination. Once you learn these tools, you'll be so good at them it will be faster for you to create a virtual machine (VM) this way, rather than using the GUI sometimes. It will also allow you to preset some configuration options that aren't always available to you from the GUI, which will make your life easier down the road.
This also helps you avoid the pitfalls of attempting to run commands or cmdlets which may have been updated or whose syntax has changed.
If you found these myths helpful or interesting and would like more information, please contact the Fuel Editor at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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