How To Forecast The Cloud Costs Of Your Users
by Mark Adams, on 14 Sep 2015, 16:00:00
If your company currently uses the cloud (or is about to start) you’ve probably thought about what the cloud costs as a whole. But have you ever wondered what an individual cloud user within your organization costs?
There may not be a way to predict for certain how much you’ll spend on each person to be in the cloud, but you can certainly break down the costs in a way that will give you a general idea.
The key to understanding each person’s cost (and keeping that cost low) is to allocate cloud resources to individual users based on their needs, rather than buying the same cloud services for everyone. Here are a few of the things you can do to make that happen.
First, Understand What Apps Are Being Used (& If They’re Really Needed)
The first thing to do when determining the cloud costs of your users is to understand what services they’re currently using and what services they’ll need to use in the near future. To do this, perform a shadow IT audit (which we discuss in this article). The most important steps in a shadow IT audit include:
Looking at company expense reports to find out what apps are currently being used and paid for.
Monitoring the questions that come through your help desk to see what apps your employees are asking about.
Simply asking people about the apps they use.
Categorizing apps by which you pay for and which are free.
Once you’ve successfully performed an audit, you will have a better understanding of the tools being used in your company and whether or not they’re necessary, as well as the services that aren’t currently being used, but would be helpful to your employees.
Then, Profile What’s Being Used
After you’ve determined what services and applications are being used, there are two ways to profile them—from a user perspective and from a functionality perspective.
Groups Of Users
When thinking about the applications from a user perspective, think about what tools each individual team member needs to do their job. What does a salesperson, a developer, or an administrator need? Each person (or team) will require their own set of tools. Then think about the core set of services that everyone will need. For example, everyone will need email software, but only certain people will need a list-making app.
The flip side would be to think about the applications from a functionality perspective. So instead of thinking about individual users, think about the individual tools, what they accomplish, and who needs them. Who needs access to certain files? Who needs productivity tools? Who will benefit from a video conferencing app?
Looking at applications from both of these perspectives offers a way to cross-examine whether or not people are using the right tools. You don’t want to fall into the trap of thinking that because employees X, Y, and Z on the sales team are using a certain group of tools, that everyone on the sales team needs those same tools. Purchasing licenses to a service that won’t be utilized is the fastest way to waste money.
Keep In Mind...
Something to keep in mind when predicting cloud costs is the effect that growth and shrinkage will have on the price of your users. For example, some services will come with five user licenses. If you allocate those licenses to five people who actually utilize the service, you don’t have a problem. But if only three people use the service, that’s two extra licenses you’re paying for, which actually ups the cost of each license. (Divide the total cost of the licenses by three instead of five.)
Another thing to be wary of is changing the number of licenses you pay for. If you have several people using a service but want to reduce that number with the intention of saving money, it may not work that way. The cost of some services will go down if the service is a true per-user, per-service model, but others will make you move down a service plan level. This can mean you lose access to certain features of the application.
The same is true if you want to increase your users. If more people use the service, does the price of each individual license decrease? Or do you get more functionality because you move up a service plan level? These are all things to think about when planning the cost of your users.
Allocate Tools & Funds Efficiently
The best way to get an accurate picture of what your cloud costs will be is to make sure you’re smart in the way you allocate tools. Don’t give people access to tools just for the sake of doing it. Really analyze what people will need, and only buy service plans and licenses for those who will utilize the application. Otherwise your costs will begin to creep up, and before you know it, you’ll be spending much more on cloud services than you’d originally forecasted.