Cloud Waste

What Does Cloud Waste Mean?

Cloud waste is what happens when cloud services remain unused or underused. Cloud waste is becoming an important concern for companies that lease software-as-a-service (SaaS), platform-as-a-service (PaaS) and infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) cloud services from public cloud providers.


Cloud waste often occurs when employees overestimate what services will be required to support a specific business goal. In a large corporation, when multiple business divisions use their own budgets to purchase cloud services, it’s easy for cloud waste to go unnoticed. The IT research firm Gartner estimates that in 2021, cloud waste cost businesses approximately $26.6 billion.

Cloud waste is often the result of:

  • Overprovisioning.
  • Purchasing services for a longer time period than actually needed.
  • Duplicate purchases within the same organization for similar types of cloud services.
  • Failing to deprovision orphan resources.
  • Inadequate focus on cloud maintenance and cloud optimization.

SaaS sprawl and other types of cloud waste can be a labor-intensive burden as well as a financial one. Setting up automation capabilities to relieve DevOps teams from manually identifying waste can ensure this type of maintenance task is taken care of more efficiently, thoroughly and with greater accuracy.

Techopedia Explains Cloud Waste

There are many stakeholders that should be concerned about cloud waste: FinOps and Finance departments are generally more inclined to try and get these costs under control and cloud engineers are often the ones tasked with managing the process.

User-defined cost allocation tagging can help teams map cloud costs directly to an application or other cloud resource according to particular features, products, teams or individuals. This way, those responsible for creating a particular resource are also accountable to rightsize them when they are overprovisioned or turn them off when they’re unused.

Getting visibility into usage is another key component for managing waste. The majority of cloud providers have their own tools that give a thorough analysis of resources running in a particular environment as well as actual usage. By taking advantage of these tools, teams can understand what adjustments they need to make to their resources.


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Margaret Rouse

Margaret is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical business audience. Over the past twenty years, her IT definitions have been published by Que in an encyclopedia of technology terms and cited in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine, and Discovery Magazine. She joined Techopedia in 2011. Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages.