How OLX Group Optimized Cloud Costs and Improved Communication and Accountability

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“With Cloudability, we managed not only to get full insight into the usage and costs, but also a common language where all departments – technology, business, and finance – were able to communicate and get on the same page.”

Sascha Curth,
Head of Cloud Economics and Governance
OLX Group

Corporate Overview

OLX Group operates the fastest-growing network of trading platforms globally. Serving 300 million people every month in more than 30 countries around the world, OLX Group helps them buy and sell cars, find housing, get jobs, buy and sell household goods, and much more. With more than 20 well-loved local brands including Avito, OLX, Otomoto, and Property24, its solutions are built to be safe, smart, and convenient for its customers.

OLX Group is powered by a team of 10,000+ people, who are unified in their ambition to shape the future of trade to unlock the hidden value in everything.

The Challenge

OLX Group’s business is decentralized. Teams across the globe operate independently, building their own cloud-based products and running their own businesses, driven by the needs of local markets.

Although OLX Group’s teams operate autonomously, they are accountable for the company’s overall success including efficiency and cost optimization in the cloud. For team members to make good decisions regarding their use of cloud resources, they need cost transparency and insight.

In the beginning, after OLX Group completed its migration to Amazon Web Services (AWS) from its on-premise data centers, the technology leadership team implemented a cloud management system. Their goal was to leverage this system to provide better visibility into their cloud operations. But they soon learned that the tool they had selected lacked the capability to provide real-time cost visibility and chargeback. Finance was failing to distribute accurate and correctly allocated cost data to their global teams, and they were unable to get the insight they needed to manage Reserved Instances (RI) and accurately track their cloud spend.

The Solution

To address this challenge, the OLX Group leadership team evaluated Apptio Cloudability as a replacement for their existing system. And they were impressed with many of the product’s features and capabilities.

One capability that stood out was how Cloudability allocates cloud costs using its Tag Mapping, Account Groups, and Business Mapping features. Tag Mapping enabled OLX to increase its tag coverage by normalizing tag keys. Account Groups allowed the team to logically group vendor accounts and subscriptions to match their internal business structures. Business Mapping allowed OLX to overlay existing tags and accounts with synthetic tags to ensure all cloud costs were accurately allocated for, even support fees and AWS Marketplace charges.

OLX also was impressed with the way Cloudability enables team ownership of cloud spend. The product’s customizable dashboards surface the most important key performance indicators (KPIs) and trend information. And by leveraging Views, the team was able to narrow the scope of information that was displayed to each team and limit it only to the data that was pertinent to them.

Anomaly detection was another key feature for OLX. Cloudability enabled OLX to set cost thresholds on abnormal spend and notify stakeholders when those limits were surpassed, which helped the team take action quickly on undesirable spending trends. According to Sascha Curth, Head of Cloud Economics and Governance at OLX Group, “The anomaly detection feature is very valuable to us.”

Yet another feature that pleased the team was the way Cloudability helps surface optimization recommendations. The Rightsize Overprovisioned Resources feature helped the team make trade-offs between performance and cost. And the Decommission Idle Resources feature helped them detect unutilized resources so they could be shut down or terminated.

Lastly, Cloudability’s Improve Commitment Planning and Purchasing feature helped the team improve the economics of their cloud initiatives without engineering effort. The Reserved Instance (RI) Planner helped the team plan for RI purchases by analyzing historical usage patterns and adjusting targets. And the Reserved Instance (RI) Portfolio enabled them to manage their commitment portfolio to visualize savings, utilization, and impending expiries.

After the evaluation, OLX purchased Cloudability and implemented the product in 2018.

The Results

Improved Confidence in Spend, Cost, Utilization and Performance Data

Cloudability provides real-time usage and cost visibility, unlike other tools OLX has used. This has provided increased confidence in the data and the tool’s insights among the various stakeholder groups.

“With Cloudability,” said Curth, “we managed not only to get full insight into the usage and costs, but also a common language where all departments—technology, business, and finance—were able to communicate and get on the same page.”

Reduced Cloud Costs and Over-Provisioning

OLX uses insight from Cloudability to optimize cloud costs and ensure resources are used efficiently. Cloudability’s business mapping feature helps OLX categorize virtual machines (VMs), identify out of date and unused instances, and encourage teams to upgrade. This allows them to minimize the use of expensive legacy instances and lower costs.

“We reserve the modern generations of VMs and don’t reserve legacy ones to encourage teams to upgrade,” said Curth. “Our goal is to make good behavior easy and as cheap as possible.”

In addition, Cloudability helps OLX optimize Reserved Instances. OLX is able to use data from Cloudability to project their needs and make better decisions about purchasing RIs. According to Curth, “We are now in a situation of being at 96% utilization of our RIs and 80% coverage.”

By using Cloudability’s customized dashboards and other features, the OLX team is able to continually refine their cloud resources and optimize costs. As Curth stated, “Cost optimization is not a project, it’s a process.”

Improved AWS Invoice Reconciliation Process

Prior to Cloudability, invoice reconciliation involved people from several teams and took nearly a month to complete. Using Cloudability, OLX was able to create an invoice reconciliation dashboard so that it was easy to review and reconcile invoices. This also made it easier to ensure proper discounts were being applied across the different teams and saved hours of manual research and effort every month. With Cloudability, OLX went from a manual research process to a clear automated report, showing any anomaly and identifying the right people to connect with.

Advice to Others

When asked to share his advice for others who are just beginning to explore cloud cost management, Curth said, “Be transparent. Share your goals from day one and continually update your stakeholders on your progress. Focus on unit economics. And act fast on insights (i.e. anomalies) to realize the biggest savings.”

To learn more about how Apptio can help your business achieve cloud cost transparency, improve accountability, and better manage your cloud spend, visit apptio.com.

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