Advanced was struggling with cost overruns, and lack of adoption of the previous cost management tool. After implementing Harness Cloud Cost Management, Advanced has seen 33% annualized cost savings to-date.
Advanced is a leading provider of sector-specific software that powers the world of work, effortlessly getting the job done and giving their customers the freedom to focus on thriving for their customers and their people. Headquartered in the UK, Advanced employs 2,000 people.
As a trusted partner to their customers, Advanced encourages their customers to think differently and adapt to the changing needs of their business. Powered by their cloud-first software, they streamline processes, boost productivity, make insightful decisions, and provide their people with the right tools to excel.
With a company-wide initiative to automate processes, the development team at Advanced sought out Harness Continuous Delivery (CD) to empower their 700+ engineers to streamline software delivery. This resulted in an average deployment time reduction of 88%.
Similarly, for improving cloud costs and governance, Jay Patel, Director of Platform Engineering-DevOps at Advanced, evaluated the effectiveness of their existing cloud cost management tool. She shared that, “We had what we felt was good cloud governance. We followed the sun with how we started and stopped service: starting them up at 8am India time, finishing them at 7pm UK time, and not running them on the weekends. This turning on and off of machines required manual scripting and effort”.
Unfortunately, the biggest drawback was that their existing cloud cost management tool suffered from a lack of adoption since it wasn’t integrated with their continuous integration (CI) and CD tools. The team only looked at it when they went to buy Reserved Instance (RI) contracts, but did not use it beyond that feature. This rendered potential right-sizing optimizations and cost savings out of reach.
Additionally, product owners weren’t paying attention to the set budgets because the cloud cost management tool in place wasn’t intuitive to them. They were averaging up to 15% overruns on budgets, making changes without understanding their impact, and exceeding the threshold for cost of goods sold (COGS). With over 40 products on AWS alone, Advanced needed to understand the COGS vs operations costs as well as forecast cloud spend accurately to ensure cost efficiency.
The search for a better tool was driven by the need for clear insights into resource wastage and unexpected cost fluctuations, the ability to enable teams to take ownership of their own product costs, and the ability to monitor long-term savings.
In May 2022, the DevOps team implemented Harness Cloud Cost Management (CCM), making the commitment to save at least 10% on annual cloud costs beyond any savings they had been getting with scheduled shutdowns. Patel commented, “The process of implementing Harness CCM was fairly direct. We connected to all of the accounts from the one master AWS account, and then we had visibility into costs immediately.”
The ease of onboarding Harness CCM allowed the 80-person DevOps team to focus on implementing recommendations and the three-person governance team to accelerate adoption. They used anomaly detection alerts so that product owners are notified of potential overspend. They brought costs from shared services into the Perspectives view in Harness CCM, giving them visibility across all services. Furthermore, they leveraged Cost Categories to show shared costs without having to worry about tagging health.
The DevOps team started seeing cost improvements within the same month of implementation. Between recommendations, improvement in cost visibility and Cloud AutoStopping™, Advanced has seen 33% annualized cost savings to-date.
In fact, by eliminating the follow-the-sun model and ensuing manual scripting, Cloud AutoStopping actively manages cloud resource idle time effectively, shutting down idle resources when not in use and dynamically running on spot instances with no impact to end users. Patel remarked that “With the Harness Cloud Asset Governance feature, we are now automating cost governance, driving half of the savings from the part that we thought was already well-governed. That governance-as-code approach includes real-time enforcement and auto-remediation, and quite frankly achieved even greater savings.” Moreover, Cloud AutoStopping has also encouraged developers to increase their focus on cost management, as it is now incorporated into the culture.
Additionally, instead of waiting to address a cost anomaly when the cloud bill arrives days or weeks after the fact, the team can now catch it before it overruns the budget. This let Advanced adopt a proactive approach to managing cloud costs, transforming it from an implementation project to a business-as-usual activity. Patel shared that, “Harness CCM is catching a lot more overruns, including those that are smaller – not to mention enabling active reviews of costs during every sprint meeting.”
Advanced has also created a set of standard service catalogs with known cost architectures based on the learnings from Harness CCM. Combined with asset governance policies, the team actively prevents cases where engineers create non-compliant cloud instances, such as CI/CD pipelines that aren’t cost compliant.
With a stronger handle on COGS, Advanced can make strategic pricing decisions. Not only have they discontinued products that are too expensive to operate, but they have also approached new application architecture more efficiently.
Patel points out, “At Advanced, we felt like we had a good handle on cloud cost governance. Then, we implemented Harness Cloud Cost Management. And what we actually discovered was that we were just okay. Harness CCM took us to excellence, and it has made huge savings for us!”