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How to Manage Cloud Infrastructure Costs at Any Maturity Level

Managing cloud infrastructure costs requires expertise, structured frameworks and strategies. Learn about them and how to implement them.

Cloud Landing Zones
Time to read
5 minutes
May 14, 2024
Celeste Groenewald

In the Inc. article  "How Tech Startups Can Crack the Code of Cloud Infrastructure Costs", Sean Kim highlights the uphill battle that many tech startups face as they struggle with increasing bills, a factor often contributing to their high failure rate. However, it's important to recognise that this challenge extends beyond the maturity level of tech startups alone. This blog explores how medium to large enterprises can efficiently manage their cloud infrastructure costs by implementing a well-considered cloud architecture strategy.

Key Takeaways

Effective cost management in cloud infrastructure is critical for all businesses.

Understanding complexities like scalability and stakeholder accountability is fundamental.

Expertise in structured frameworks like Cloud Landing Zones is indispensable for cloud infrastructure cost optimisation.

Addressing Cloud Infrastructure Cost Management Needs

As enterprises scale up, managing cloud infrastructure costs becomes increasingly complex. Transitioning from CapEx to OpEx models is a necessity for effective cost management.

Understanding the importance of managing cloud infrastructure costs is fundamental for medium and large enterprises. These organisations heavily rely on cloud services for their daily operations. However, as they expand, their dependence on cloud resources grows, resulting in significant costs. Thus, effectively managing these expenses is necessary for maintaining profitability and operational efficiency.

As companies scale up, the complexity of their systems increases. This complexity can pose challenges in managing and optimising cloud resources, particularly for larger companies accountable to shareholders, investors, and boards of directors who require careful financial management.

Uncontrolled spending on cloud services can lead to financial inefficiencies, negatively impacting the company's performance and undermining trust in its financial responsibility. Therefore, seizing cost-saving opportunities is critical for remaining competitive in dynamic industries. Enterprises that expertly manage their cloud infrastructure costs can allocate resources sensibly, drive innovation, and offer competitive pricing to customers, thereby gaining a significant edge.

Overcoming the challenges of managing cloud infrastructure costs requires a shift from traditional CapEx to OpEx models. This transition is critical for adapting to the complexities of cloud economics and ensuring sustainable growth.

Transitioning from CapEx to OpEx Model

You only pay for what you use, so only use what you need.

Companies often encounter challenges transitioning to the cloud economy due to their entrenched CapEx model. Effective cost management necessitates a shift to an OpEx model, where expenses align with actual usage.

In a Capital Expenditure (CapEx) model, organisations make upfront investments in infrastructure assets like servers, storage, and networking equipment. These assets are recorded on the balance sheet and depreciated over time, involving significant one-time expenses typically associated with on-premises infrastructure or data centres. Organisations maintain ownership and bear responsibility for maintenance, upgrades, and operational costs.

In contrast, an Operating Expenditure (OpEx) model involves ongoing operational costs, such as subscription fees or pay-as-you-go pricing for cloud services. These expenses are categorised as operating expenses on the income statement and deducted in the period they occur. OpEx offers flexibility and scalability since organisations pay only for utilised resources and services, eliminating substantial upfront investments. Cloud services like Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS), and Software as a Service (SaaS) commonly adopt an OpEx model, aligning costs with usage and enabling resource scaling as needed.

Transitioning to an OpEx model poses the challenge of making cloud infrastructure costs transparent. Additionally, responsibility for cost control shifts from solely the finance department to becoming a collective responsibility across teams. An effective approach involves ensuring readily transparent information, and holding teams accountable for their spending, achievable through mechanisms such as Cloud Landing Zones.

Table 1: Comparison between CapEx and OpEx model

Before transitioning to an OpEx model, it's important to have a comprehensive understanding of a strategic framework that underlie the control and optimisation of cloud infrastructure costs. This framework is fundamental for effective cost management and should be thoroughly understood before devising implementation strategies.

Strategic Framework to Control and Optimise Your Cloud Infrastructure Costs

Cloud principles, encompassing reliability, security, performance efficiency, cost optimisation, and operational excellence, guide the development of cost-effective cloud environments. 

Cloud Landing Zones serve as actionable blueprints for implementing these principles, ensuring well-architected and optimised cloud infrastructures.

Principles inform the "what", and Cloud Landing Zones inform the "how".

While no single framework exclusively caters to cloud infrastructure cost management, cloud principles play an important role in guiding a well-considered cloud architecture strategy, including cost optimisation. Once these principles are understood, Cloud Landing Zones provide a blueprint for their implementation within your cloud infrastructure.

1. Principles

5 Principles for Cloud Standardisation
5 Principles of Cloud Standardisation

Amazon, Microsoft, and Google have each defined their interpretation of key principles that Cloud Landing Zones should encompass. Despite differences, they unanimously agree on a comprehensive set of standards, falling within five pillars: reliability, security, performance efficiency, cost optimisation, and operational excellence.

These principles prove invaluable for customers across all maturity levels, ranging from fast-expanding startups to large regulated industries. Each pillar aims to minimise challenges faced by customers when using cloud infrastructure, offering standardisations and principles:

  • Reliability: Guides customers on ensuring their systems cope and recover in times of failure or dynamically changing demands on resources.
  • Security and Governance: Guides customers on securing their cloud infrastructure, covering various security topics, including secure login, threat detection, monitoring, and governance.
  • Performance Efficiency: Guides customers on ensuring the availability of the right resources for the workload at the right time and in the right configuration state.
  • Cost Optimisation: Guides customers on striking a balance between performance and costs.
  • Operational Excellence: Guides customers on how their teams can effectively work with cloud infrastructure, covering topics such as incident management, continuous integration, and deployment.

2. Cloud Landing Zones

A Cloud Landing Zone is a well-architected, scalable and secure cloud foundation. It serves as a set of principles and guidelines, leading through a cloud journey, and ensuring optimal and efficient cloud adoption.

Cloud Landing Zones form the basis for standardisation in cloud adoption, embedded in the four key areas of the cloud: Account and Resource Organisation, Identity and Access Management, Network Architecture, and Logging, Account Monitoring, and Auditing.

Each key cloud area can benefit from one or more principles:

  • Account and resource organisation: Customers can adopt multiple approaches to organise resources within the cloud account, influencing cloud infrastructure costs accordingly.
  • Identity and Access Management: The principles outlined in the security and governance pillar ensure maximum protection of the customer's cloud infrastructure and resources, balancing security and cost management where possible.
  • Network architecture: The underlying infrastructure of cloud resources impacts communication, reliability, and operational costs, necessitating consideration of all five pillars when selecting a network architecture.
  • Logging, account monitoring, and auditing: Various tools are available to help customers track activities in their cloud estate and understand how costs accumulate.

Putting these principles into practice becomes the cornerstone of effective cost optimisation strategies. This essential step ensures the sustainable management of cloud infrastructure and the maximisation of returns on cloud investments.

Optimising Cloud Infrastructure Costs

Key cost optimisation strategies include:

- Right-sizing resources
- Leveraging elasticity and scalability
- Implementing budgets and alerts
- Optimising data transfers and storage costs

Cost Optimisation = Maximising Value from Cloud Investments - Minimising Unnecessary Expenses

Cost optimisation in cloud infrastructure management is more than just crunching numbers - it's about ensuring that your organisation extracts the most value from its cloud investments while minimising unnecessary expenses. Striking this balance between performance and cost is important to prevent overspending on resources and services.

Here are examples illustrating the key cost optimisation strategies:

1. Right-sizing resources

Right-sizing resources involves a thorough analysis of your workload requirements to ensure that your cloud resources are precisely matched to your actual needs. By avoiding over-provisioning, you can mitigate the risk of wasted spending on unused capacity. This process often involves conducting thorough performance assessments, workload profiling, and capacity planning to identify the optimal resource configurations. Elasticity and scalability are fundamental principles to dynamically adjust resource allocations as workload demands fluctuate.

2. Elasticity and scalability

With elasticity, your infrastructure can automatically scale resources up or down in response to workload fluctuations, ensuring that you're not paying for unused capacity during periods of low activity. Scalability, on the other hand, involves designing your applications and architecture to efficiently handle varying workloads without compromising performance or incurring unnecessary costs. By leveraging cloud-native services such as auto-scaling groups and serverless computing, you can achieve greater flexibility and cost efficiency in managing your resources.

3. Budgets and alerts

Implementing budgets and alerts is key for maintaining financial discipline and ensuring cost control in your cloud environment. By establishing predefined spending thresholds and receiving timely notifications when approaching or exceeding them, you can proactively manage your expenses and prevent budget overruns. This proactive approach to cost management enables you to make informed decisions about resource allocation, prioritise spending based on business priorities, and identify opportunities for optimisation.

4. Reserved and committed offers

Leveraging reserved and committed use offers significant cost savings opportunities by providing substantial discounts on compute resources. By committing to a certain level of resource usage over a specified period, you can access discounted pricing models offered by cloud providers. This is particularly beneficial for workloads with predictable resource requirements, such as production environments or steady-state applications. By strategically leveraging reserved instances, savings plans, or commitment-based contracts, you can optimise your cloud spending and maximise your return on investment.

5. Monitoring for underutilised resources

Monitoring for underutilised resources is a critical aspect of cost optimisation, as it helps identify areas where resources are not fully utilised. By regularly monitoring resource usage metrics and performance indicators, you can pinpoint inefficiencies or idle resources that are contributing to unnecessary costs. Once identified, these underutilised resources can be optimised, right-sized, or decommissioned to eliminate wastage and reduce expenses. Implementing automated monitoring and alerting mechanisms can streamline this process, enabling proactive cost optimisation and continuous improvement of resource efficiency.

6. Cost allocation tags for granular insights

Implementing cost allocation tags provides granular insights into your cloud spending by categorising resources and expenses according to your business taxonomy. By assigning metadata tags to resources, projects, or departments, you can track and allocate costs more accurately, aligning them with your organisation's financial reporting and accountability requirements. This enhanced visibility into cost allocation enables better cost management, budgeting, and forecasting, as well as facilitating chargeback or showback mechanisms for internal billing and cost attribution.

7. Cost reporting and dashboards

Robust cost reporting and dashboards offer comprehensive visibility into your cloud spending, enabling you to make informed decisions and implement effective cost management strategies. By consolidating and analysing spending data from across your cloud environment, you can identify cost trends, anomalies, and areas of overspending. Customisable dashboards and reports provide stakeholders with real-time insights into cost drivers, resource usage patterns, and cost-saving opportunities, empowering them to take proactive actions to optimise spending and maximise value.

8. Optimising data transfers and storage costs

Optimising data transfers and storage costs involves implementing strategies to minimise data transfer fees and select the most cost-effective storage options based on your workload requirements and access patterns. This may include adopting data caching mechanisms, optimising data transfer protocols, or leveraging tiered storage solutions that offer varying levels of performance and cost. By optimising data transfer and storage configurations, you can reduce operational expenses, improve application performance, and enhance overall cost efficiency in your cloud environment

By integrating cost consideration into every aspect of your cloud infrastructure, you ensure that your cloud investments are not just efficient but also economically sustainable, driving maximum value for your organisation.

Understanding and implementing strategies to optimise cloud infrastructure costs not only ensures financial sustainability but also enhances operational efficiency. The next section outlines examples that illustrate the benefits of cloud adoption across various industries.

Gaining Insights from Real-world Case Studies

Case studies demonstrate benefits like scalability, cost savings, security, and operational efficiency.

The implementation of cloud solutions and Cloud Landing Zones has revolutionised how businesses operate across diverse industries. Through examining real-world case studies, we gain valuable insights into the transformative impact of cloud adoption. While each case study addresses unique challenges and solutions, they collectively highlight common themes that emphasise the benefits of embracing cloud technology:

  • Scalability and Flexibility: Across various industries, from hospitality giants like  Airbnb to entertainment streaming services such as Netflix and file hosting services like Dropbox, the recurring theme is the unparalleled scalability and flexibility offered by cloud adoption. Organisations can seamlessly expand their infrastructure to meet evolving demands without the constraints of traditional hardware limitations and the upfront costs associated with it.

    “When building a storage system, you have to think about components like replication, backups, and capacity management. By using Amazon DynamoDB and Amazon S3, we simplify these problems because AWS handles many of the complex tasks.” - Dropbox

  • Cost Savings and Efficiency: Case studies such as Oyster and Dropbox, emphasise the significant cost-saving potential of cloud adoption. Leveraging cloud services like Amazon DynamoDB and Amazon S3 enables organisations to optimise resource utilisation, reduce operational expenses, and achieve substantial cost savings compared to on-premises infrastructure.

    “It took less time to rewrite the code and do a full processing job with AWS than it took to do a single run with the old method.” - Oyster

  • Security and Compliance: The experiences of companies like AXA and Bank of England emphasise the critical importance of robust security measures and regulatory compliance in cloud adoption. Implementing stringent security protocols and adhering to industry best practices are essential for safeguarding data integrity and maintaining regulatory compliance in the cloud.

    “The global landing zone is a set of tools, automation, and concepts that allow any entity that wants to use AWS services to very quickly access them in a secure and compliant manner. It covers aspects like encryption, network configuration, IAM integration, and logging and monitoring of compliance.” - AXA

  • Operational Excellence: Organisations like the Home Office demonstrate how cloud adoption can enhance operational efficiency and agility. By migrating to the cloud, businesses streamline delivery processes, improve developer productivity, and create highly secure operational environments.

  • Strategic Partnerships: Collaborating with cloud service providers like AWS, Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud Platform is crucial for successful cloud adoption. Strategic partnerships enable organisations to leverage the expertise, resources, and best practices offered by cloud providers to achieve their business objectives effectively.

    “Appvia have shown a drive to not just innovate within the service they provide but provide guidance and assistance to other parts of the organisation to promote both product and agile delivery.” - Home Office

These case studies demonstrate the tangible business advantages gained through embracing cloud adoption and integrating Cloud Landing Zones. By dissecting the core themes and lessons, organisations can distil actionable insights to refine their cloud adoption strategies and enhance the value of their cloud technology investments.

With insights drawn from case studies highlighting the significance of cloud adoption, the next phase entails implementing these strategies by establishing Cloud Landing Zones. These Cloud Landing Zones serve as comprehensive frameworks for crafting well-structured cloud environments aligned with cost optimisation goals, complementing the earlier discussed strategies for enhancing cloud infrastructure efficiency.


Assess current cloud infrastructure against Cloud Landing Zone recommendations.

Seek assistance from Cloud Landing Zone specialists for implementation and optimisation.

Explore software tools for cost management and self-service capabilities.

Cloud Landing Zones offer organisations a blueprint for achieving a well-architected cloud infrastructure implementation. Major Cloud Providers such as Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud Platform  (GCP) have each introduced their own versions of Cloud Landing Zones to assist customers in establishing standardised and well-architected cloud environments.

As discussed previously, effective cost optimisation heavily relies on a well-architected cloud infrastructure. This process entails physically and logically segregating cloud resources in a manner that optimally supports cost optimisation while ensuring critical factors like security are not compromised. So, it's important to set up tools and plans that help control costs, like adjusting resources as needed and keeping an eye on spending.

Begin by familiarising yourself with the documentation of Cloud Landing Zones provided by your preferred cloud provider. Subsequently, assess your current cloud infrastructure against the recommendations provided by the Cloud Landing Zones. This evaluation remains relevant even for large organisations with extensive, established cloud infrastructure estates.

Cloud Landing Zone specialists can assist in various aspects of this process, including understanding the recommendations, analysing the current cloud infrastructure, implementing necessary changes, and even training platform engineers on subsequent changes and practices. If you have already performed these activities in-house, then you can consult Cloud Landing Zone specialists to analyse your implementation and offer further cost-saving optimisations.

They can even suggest software tools to assist platform engineers in establishing scoped self-service cloud infrastructure capabilities. These tools can provide developers with insights into the estimated costs of their workloads, enabling them to operate more effectively within their team's budget estimates. Other tools can provide platform engineers with oversight into which clusters are unused and tagged for deletion.

Examples of Successful Implementations

To further illustrate the effectiveness of Cloud Landing Zones, let's consider a few real-world examples: 

  • UK Home Office Transformation: The UK Home Office partnered with Appvia to develop an internal cloud-native platform on AWS, overcoming challenges of decentralised project teams. Through containerization and integrated tooling, they streamlined deployment processes, reduced costs, and achieved faster developer onboarding, enhancing business value and cost management across 40 projects.
  • Bank of England Cloud Migration: Facing the need to migrate legacy applications swiftly and securely, the Bank of England implemented a robust cloud migration strategy with Appvia's assistance. By establishing secure landing zones, standardising application onboarding, and providing comprehensive training, they accelerated cloud adoption while ensuring adherence to security best practices, resulting in significant efficiency improvements.
  • CGI's Multi-Cloud Kubernetes Management: CGI's Emerging Technology Practice (ETP) developed the Lovelace machine learning platform, aiming for multi-cloud deployment. With Appvia Wayfinder, CGI overcame challenges of secure, multi-cloud Kubernetes management, automating cluster provisioning, implementing best-practice security measures, and reducing operational overhead. This enabled CGI to deploy Lovelace effectively in the cloud within an hour, significantly reducing lead time and complexities.

These examples highlight how Cloud Landing Zones effectively address challenges in cloud infrastructure management, leading to enhanced cost efficiency, security, and scalability.


Effective management of cloud infrastructure costs is a critical concern for businesses across all maturity levels, from startups to established enterprises. As you progress through the complex topic of cloud cost management, it's critical to leverage proven strategies. These include right-sizing resources, harnessing elasticity, implementing robust budgeting mechanisms, and optimising data transfers and storage expenses. Cloud Landing Zones serve as a blueprint on how to make the most of these strategies.

By incorporating these strategies into your cloud infrastructure management, you can maximise the value proposition for your organisation while ensuring competitiveness in today's rapidly evolving business environment. 

Make sure that you dig deeper into these strategies, seek guidance from cloud experts, and equip your organisation with the tools and insights needed to adeptly overcome the challenges of cloud cost optimisation and management. 

It is never too late to begin your journey towards achieving cost-effective cloud infrastructure management.

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