As agencies pursue their modernization goals, a cloud-native approach to application development is sweeping across the federal government. A few examples of the impactful adoption of cloud capabilities include the Department of Treasury’s TCloud, which will rationalize applications and workloads across a secure cloud, and the Department of Defense’s Defense Enterprise Office Solution for office productivity and collaboration.
But as taxpayer dollars are injected into these projects (agencies are expected to spend $7.8 billion on cloud in the 2022 fiscal year) and cloud-native goes mainstream, cost containment is becoming a key theme – particularly in the development and management of these applications.
Some challenges lie ahead. First, developers are rarely responsible for long-term business decisions. Once the code is out of their hands, they have little stewardship of their work. Meanwhile, those responsible for making decisions about all aspects of ownership, including infrastructure resources and maintenance and operations, may not understand or account for how much it costs to keep cloud-native apps going.
Let’s look at how developers and operations management teams can better understand and manage the cost of application modernization programs.
Cost Containment: A Must-Have Skill for the Modern Developer
Cost containment shouldn’t be the priority of cloud-native development. Innovation, resiliency, security, and user experience should always come first. But the application development phase does offer a crucial opportunity to lay the foundation for cost containment.
An easy first step towards sustainable applications is to adopt the foundation of reliable operations – monitoring and observability. When developers ensure new and modernized applications include monitoring from the outset, DevOps and site reliability engineering (SRE) teams can better understand the state of their systems and proactively debug systems in production. In turn, it benefits the organizations that will own those applications for the long run.
For example, suppose an application relies on platform-managed serverless or orchestrated containerization. In that case, there’s no shortage of opportunities to provide rich performance data for both developers and operations using commercial cloud-native or open-source monitoring options.
Through monitoring, developers can quickly get a sense of application durability and develop more sustainable applications to support cost containment. Considering sustainable cost containment during the dev phase isn’t best left to IT leaders, it’s a vital part of developer maturity – and agency leaders will thank them.
Cost Containment: From Launch to Sunset
But where does this leave those charged with ensuring the high performance of cloud-native applications once they move to deployment? Breakthrough cloud-enabled technologies don’t maintain a minimum latency or uptime on their own. Although architected this way, IT and network operations teams must continuously monitor the health of cloud applications, infrastructure, and the networks they rely on – to ensure a quality user experience and an uninterrupted mission. Of course, there’s a consistent cost (time, licensing, maintenance, training for new employees, etc.) associated with these tasks, but often organizations treat them as “sunk costs” and move on.
Full-stack observability must happen without incurring the cost of procuring and managing multiple monitoring tools and accommodating new reporting, alerting, and automation needs as time goes on.
What can IT leaders do to better prepare and control costs in a cloud-native future in the face of these challenges?
One strategy is to ensure developers and IT operations teams use the same centralized and automated monitoring tools – from launch to sunset. By consolidating tools and achieving enterprise-wide observability—from a single integrated pane of glass—both teams can occupy the same monitoring domain and ensure peak performance of the entire application, infrastructure, and network environment while saving time and containing costs.
Likewise, the cost containment advantages of automation can’t be overstated. Instead of IT pros spending hours trying to identify, diagnose, and fix hard-to-find performance issues, modern monitoring tools run in the background—automatically identifying performance issues and recommending optimization fixes.
As new systems and cloud-native applications come online, these systems allow agencies to quickly and easily scale their monitoring capability without additional expense, no matter how complex their cloud, multi-cloud, or hybrid environment becomes.
Now that’s sustainable cost containment.
The author, Brandon Shopp, is GVP Product, Strategy, at SolarWinds.