A Cloud Cost Optimization Checklist

  • June 15, 2020

It’s easy to go overboard on cloud use if you’re not paying attention. Just ask any of the respondents to the Flexera 2020 State of the Cloud Report who reported they are over budget for cloud spend by an average of 23 percent. Estimating that they waste 30 percent of cloud spend, it’s little surprise that 73 percent have made managing cloud costs their top initiative this year. 

If your organization is in this boat and you’ve been surprised by a recent cloud bill or are just looking to proactively avoid such surprises, this checklist is for you. Read on as we share our tips for managing cloud costs for optimum results. 

 Have You                                    If Not
Gained visibility of your cloud spending?
  • Use a tool like AWS Cost Explorer or Azure Cost Management + Billing to determine a baseline for key metrics. 
  • Ensure situational awareness of cloud cost metrics across stakeholders so that teams can at any time see how their use and spend is trending.
Tagged your resources?  
  • Tagging your resources with key information like asset owner, cost center, business unit and/or project can help you associate assets with AWS costs, which can in turn link to traditional financial reporting.
    (Hint: a tag ‘style guide’ will make this job easier and more consistent for better results.) 
Identified idle and/or underutilized resources?
  • Use tags to locate and shut down resources that are no longer actively used.
  • Use a tool like AWS Cost Explorer that will automatically identify idle and underutilized instances across accounts and regions.
Reviewed where your services run?
  • As there can be a great deal of variance between regions, it’s important to choose wisely where your services run. For example, Azure reports a 43% difference between its cheapest and most expensive region depending on your compute resource needs.
Right-sized your instances?
  • Options like Azure Spot VMs can save you significantly if you have flexible workloads that can take advantage of them.
  • AWS Reserve Instances and AWS Savings Plans also offer opportunities for right-sizing with considerably less cost, given a one or three-year commitment to the platform.
  • Monitoring performance ensures that compute resources aren’t underutilized so that you aren’t paying for a bigger instance size than you need.
Scheduled instances? 
  • One of the benefits of the cloud is that you only pay for what you use. As not every workload needs 24×7 availability, consider implementing a scheduler, like AWS lifecycle managers and Kubernetes’ scheduler to automate the start and stop jobs.
Built in cost control rules?
  • Create alarms that alert you when budget thresholds are reached.
  • Create a blacklist of licenses or instance types to avoid fees associated with them (e.g. Marketplace instances that could include software license fees).
Considered application modernization?
  • By their very nature, lift and shift applications don’t take advantage of cloud cost optimization features. Analyze your applications to determine which could benefit from cloud-native modernization.
Considered the value of cloud standardization?
  • Architect to your preferred platform to realize more savings.
Established a mechanism to stay on top of cloud news?
  • Find a solid news source as cloud platform providers constantly evolve their services, offering new tools and features to effectively manage costs. For example, AWS recently announced AWS Fargate Spot as a means to save on ECS tasks.
  • Set up a monthly or quarterly call with a trusted partner, such as Flux7, to find out how you can take advantage of the latest cost-saving features and updates 


While there is no single silver bullet that will help you manage cloud costs, many things working in tandem can add up to hundreds of thousands in savings. For example, a large media enterprise we work with saved $250,000 a quarter using a variety of cost optimization techniques, the largest portion of which can be attributed to a new resource tagging and enforcement regime.  

While environments constantly evolve, this checklist should not be thought of as a one-and-done exercise, but rather a tool to consistently ensure your environment is achieving its cost-related goals. Need help investigating your cloud infrastructure and how it impacts your spending? Reach out today for an assessment with our cloud computing consulting team.

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