This blog is the second in a series on public cloud optimization. Also see “Reduce Public Cloud Spend with Intersight Workload Optimizer,” and stay tuned for the third blog in the series on how to simplify multi-cloud operations in AWS, Azure, and GCP.

Recently I sat down with Mohit Vaswani, technical solutions architect for Cisco Intersight Workload Optimizer (IWO), to talk about how organizations can achieve cost benefits offered by the public cloud through effective cloud migration planning. The following is a recap of our conversation.


Q: Why are organizations moving workloads to the cloud? 

A: For years now, organizations have been moving applications to the public cloud for multiple reasons. One of the biggest motivations is budget and agility. IT departments see the promise of the public cloud as a potential way to lower costs, either from eliminating capital expenses and tracking only operational expenses as a budget line item or from spending less because they can more easily adjust resources based on their workload requirements. This feeds into the idea that whereas traditional data center resources are finite (you have to purchase more hardware if your requirements increase), resources in the public cloud are infinite (you can spin up resources on-demand without investing in related capital expenses). In addition, the ability to make resources available to developers within minutes through the public cloud is a game-changer to accelerate innovation. While traditional on-premises data centers carry more baggage with cost and complexity, the flexibility of the public cloud offers the possibility of quicker transformation, potentially leading to growth faster.


Q: What does it mean to move applications and workloads to the cloud?

A: The most basic way to move applications to the public cloud is “lift and shift.” This means moving applications and their workloads to the public cloud without any changes; you simply copy them from your data center and shift them as-is to a public cloud environment.

While this approach is popular and simple, it’s a double-edged sword. Unless you’ve considered the purpose and status of your application and what you’re aiming to achieve, you don’t even know if moving an application to the cloud is the best option. Some up-front analysis could show that re-architecting, retaining, or retiring the application may be a better strategic option than moving it to the cloud. And if you just go ahead with lift and shift, you may be increasing your costs from the get-go.

If you do decide to migrate an application to the cloud, do you really need all the resources you’re currently using on-premises to ensure the application performs well once it’s in the public cloud? Many organizations fall into this trap and overspend on storage that’s not tied to any compute, on too many reserved instances, or in other ways, such as maintaining zombie VMs (VMs they’re completely unaware of, that don’t have owners, or that have been abandoned).

“45% of organizations that perform a lift-and-shift migration will
overspend by 70% during the first 18 months of their new architecture.”
–  GCN, March 2022

If you haven’t asked questions about how your application is performing in your data center and optimized your workloads there, then you’re simply carrying over potential ways to over-spend in the public cloud. You’ve defeated the purpose of optimizing public cloud resources before you’ve even moved your application. It’s critical to know this information before migration to make sure the cloud set up is optimized to support application performance at the lowest cost.


Q: How can organizations take advantage of the promises of the cloud without overspending?

A: I like to think about it as being proactive rather than reactive. Instead of moving an application to the public cloud and then asking how it can be optimized, the best practice is to consider the individual elements that impact overall public cloud costs before migrating the application to the cloud.

Let’s take a case in point. Using Intersight Workload Optimizer (Cisco’s application resource management solution), you can do “what-if” scenario planning for cloud migration. A Migrate to Cloud plan simulates migration of on-premises VMs to the cloud, or migration of VMs from one cloud provider to another. The plan focuses on optimizing performance and costs by choosing the most suitable cloud resources for your VMs and the volumes they use. To further optimize your costs, the plan can recommend moving workloads from on-demand to discounted pricing and purchasing more discounts.

The plan calculates costs according to the billing and price adjustments that you have negotiated with your cloud provider. Costs include compute, service (such as IP services), and license costs. The plan also calculates discount purchases for VMs that can benefit from discounted pricing.

The plan results show:

  • Projected costs
  • Actions to execute your migration and optimize costs and performance
  • Optimal cloud instances to use, combining efficient purchase of resources with assured application performance
  • The cost benefit of moving workloads from on-demand to discounted pricing
  • Discounts you should purchase
AWS Cloud Cost Comparison Chart
Cisco Intersight Workload Optimizer provides a comparison of lift and shift versus optimized workload migration to the public cloud along with recommended actions to achieve optimized performance when moving to the cloud and on a continuous basis.

You can also see the difference in risks (including performance risks, efficiency opportunities, and compliance risks) if you simply lift and shift an application to the public cloud versus if you optimize before you move the application to the public cloud. IWO also provides a cost comparison breakdown between lift and shift and optimized application migration.

It’s important to remember that optimizing workloads for performance and cost is an ongoing process. Once you’ve migrated to the cloud, IWO provides performance and cost-related recommendations along with specific actions to achieve those savings (such as buying reserved instances, deleting volumes, scaling VMs, and optimizing reserved instances). It drills down into purchase quantities recommended, upfront costs, breakeven period, and savings.

Watch “Intersight Workload Optimizer in Action: Reducing cloud costs with recommended actions” to learn more.


Q: How can someone learn more about planning for cloud migration with Intersight Workload Optimizer?

A: Intersight Workload Optimizer is a SaaS solution that includes a free 45-day trial. Anyone can sign up for the trial and use the cloud migration scenario planning capability to see the type of information it provides.

Detailed information on the scenario planning is available in the Cisco Intersight Workload Optimizer User Guide, and our cloud optimization specialists are available for one-on-one demos to walk through specific scenarios.



Julie Fouque

Product Marketing Manager

Cisco Cloud and Compute Group