Total Cost of Ownership: It Pays to Know Data Orchestration TCO
Data Orchestration

Total Cost of Ownership: It Pays to Know Data Orchestration TCO

Shawn Fergus
Shawn Fergus

Data democratization, artificial intelligence (AI), and machine learning (ML) will continue to make data more accessible, automated, and able to handle complex tasks. The practice of viewing data as a product continues to gain acceptance across organizations.

In turn, insights will become more readily available as data environments operate more fluidly. And, as stream and real-time data analytics become more established, an increasing number of industries will benefit from improved effectiveness, interoperability, and performance.

total cost of ownership

These trends mean data leaders and managers need more than a general understanding of what it costs for their data environment to operate.

They need to understand the total cost of ownership (TCO) of the foundational aspects that make it run. Especially that of their data orchestration software, tools, and platforms, as orchestration functions as the hub of modern data environments.

TCO in modern data environments

For technology leaders and managers, being able to determine and maintain an understanding of the true IT costs related to data orchestration involves eleven key factors:

1. Software and tools: The cost of data orchestration tools or platforms can be one of the most significant expenses in modern organizations. These may range from open-source software solutions—sometimes coming with hidden costs involving support and maintenance—to premium, enterprise-level solutions (e.g., ERP software) with advanced features and support.

2. Infrastructure and storage: Data orchestration frequently requires robust infrastructure data storage solutions (like data warehouses or lakes), computing resources, network capabilities, etc. Costs can also vary significantly depending on whether an organization opts for in-house, on-premises solutions or cloud-based services.

3. Implementation and integration: Setting up a data orchestration system often requires a significant initial investment. This implementation process typically includes integrating various data sources, setting up workflows, and ensuring compatibility with existing systems.

4. Maintenance and upgrades: Regular infrastructure and software maintenance is essential for data orchestration systems to ensure efficiency and security. This includes software updates, hardware maintenance, disaster recovery (DR) planning, and managing and/or mitigating potential downtimes.

5. Technical debt: Technical debt often leads to complex, inefficient, or outdated code and systems. Maintaining such systems requires more time and resources, increasing the overall cost. The systems themselves can also become more prone to failure and difficult to scale.

6. Staffing and training: It takes a village of skilled personnel to manage and operate data orchestration tools. This involves managing competitive salaries for data engineers, data scientists, and IT support staff. Moreover, upskilling and training employees on new tools or processes can also be a significant factor in data-related TCO calculations.

7. Security and compliance: Ensuring data security and compliance with various regulations (e.g., GDPR and HIPAA) can incur substantial costs over time. Increasingly important for data-driven organizations of all kinds, security and compliance costs commonly include securing data transfers, encrypting data, and regular audits.

8. Downtime and efficiency losses: Inefficient or poorly managed data environments can lead to operational downtime, creating indirect costs by way of lost opportunities, flawed decision-making, and productivity losses.

9. Scalability costs: As an organization grows, its data orchestration will inevitably need to scale, which can involve additional costs in infrastructure, new software licensing, software upgrades, and possibly hiring and training new staff.

10. Vendor lock-in risks: Relying on a specific vendor's tools and services can lead to vendor lock-in, where transitioning to another service in the future may incur significant additional costs.

11. Opportunity costs: Finally, it’s important to consider the opportunity cost of not investing in efficient data orchestration, such as slower insights, compromised infrastructure functionality, less informed decision-making, and potential competitive disadvantages.

Going a step further: The benefits of calculating your data orchestration’s TCO

As data environments grow more complex, data and IT leaders in large organizations may benefit from calculating the TCO of data orchestration and other critical components of their data management processes. Specifically, close analysis of data orchestration can produce several benefits:

Focused investment analysis

Calculating the TCO of data orchestration as a subset of the data management landscape can help an organization understand the specific investments required for orchestration tools and processes. This focused analysis can help inform decision-making about where to allocate resources for maximum efficiency and effectiveness.

Identification of cost drivers

By isolating the costs associated with data orchestration, organizations can identify specific cost drivers within this area. This can include costs related to integration, automation, scalability, and maintenance. And, by understanding these drivers, it becomes possible to develop more targeted cost optimization strategies.

Performance and value assessment

A separate TCO for data orchestration enables data leaders to assess the performance and value delivered specifically by these capabilities. This can include evaluating the efficiency gains, time savings, and improvements in data quality and accessibility that orchestration processes and tools provide.

Budgeting and forecasting

Understanding the TCO of data orchestration can also aid in more accurate budgeting and forecasting for this specific area. Organizations can plan future investments in data orchestration more effectively—including scaling operations, upgrading technologies, or integrating new tools.

Cost-benefit analysis

When considering upgrades or new investments in data orchestration tools, having a clear picture of the current TCO allows for a more precise cost-benefit analysis. This precision enables organizations to weigh the potential benefits of new investments against their costs, specifically within the context of data orchestration.

Vendor selection and negotiation

Knowing the TCO of data orchestration can be beneficial during vendor selection and negotiation processes. Knowledge is power in negotiations, and data leaders can leverage information gained from the TCO calculation process to compare offerings, negotiate better terms, and make choices that align with their financial and operational objectives.

Risk management

Understanding the costs associated with data orchestration can also help in identifying and managing business risks. For instance, if a significant portion of the TCO is tied to a single vendor or technology, the organization may be exposed to higher risks in case of vendor issues or technological obsolescence.

Compliance and security focus

As data orchestration involves moving and transforming data across various systems, it has unique compliance and security implications. Therefore, separating its TCO can help in allocating sufficient resources to address these specific challenges.

Strategic alignment

By evaluating the TCO of data orchestration separately, organizations can ensure that their investment in this area aligns with their overall data strategy and business objectives.

Enhanced stakeholder communication

For stakeholders who are specifically interested in the efficiency and effectiveness of data flows within the organization, a separate TCO for data orchestration provides a clear and focused narrative.

Calculating the TCO of your data orchestration

Calculating the TCO for data orchestration involves a comprehensive analysis of all the costs associated with implementing, operating, maintaining, and upgrading the data orchestration system over its lifecycle.

1. Initial capital expenditure (CapEx)

  • Software costs: Data orchestration software or platform licenses (one-time purchase or subscription-based)
  • Hardware costs: Related servers, storage, and networking equipment for any on-premises solutions
  • Implementation costs: Installation, configuration, customization, and integration with existing systems

2. Operational expenditure (OpEx)

  • Maintenance and support costs: Regular maintenance for both hardware and software, including updates and patches
  • Infrastructure costs: Cloud services like storage, computing power, and data transfer
  • Staffing costs: Salaries and benefits for personnel directly involved in managing and operating the data orchestration system, such as data engineers, analysts, and IT support staff
  • Training costs: Training staff to use and manage any new systems effectively

3. Indirect costs

  • Downtime costs: Estimates for potential downtime, including lost productivity and business opportunities
  • Security and compliance costs: Ensuring data security, privacy, and compliance with regulations
  • Risk management: Insurance costs or other risk management strategies related to data management

4. Future costs

  • Upgrade costs: Future upgrades or systems expansions
  • Scalability costs: Scaling relevant systems as the organization grows
  • End-of-life costs: Decommissioning the system at the end of its lifecycle, including data migration and disposal of hardware

5. Opportunity costs

  • Resource allocation: Choosing to invest in data orchestration over other potential investments and any missed opportunities or gains
  • Innovation and agility impact: Potential cost of reduced innovation and agility in business operations

6. Discounting future costs

  • Time value of money: Understanding that the value of money decreases over time due to inflation and other economic factors

How can you save on TCO with data orchestration?

Ultimately, the goal of conducting TCO analysis for any aspect of data management is to improve the efficiency and overall ROI of your data environment. Using the knowledge gained by calculating the TCO of your data orchestration as a foundation, a few key tactics can be leveraged (ideally together) to reduce costs:

Cloud services can be more cost-effective than on-premises solutions, especially for scaling needs. They often offer pay-as-you-go models, reducing upfront capital expenditure. Utilize cloud management tools to monitor and optimize cloud resource usage, preventing over-provisioning.

Streamlining data processes and eliminating redundant data storage and processing tasks can reduce infrastructure and operational costs. Regularly cleaning and archiving data can further reduce storage costs.

Automating repetitive and routine tasks in the data orchestration process not only saves time but also reduces the risk of errors and the need for manual intervention. Moreover, working to optimize workflows for efficiency can reduce processing time and resource usage.

Remember, automation does beget autonomy. Keep your systems up-to-date to ensure they are running efficiently and securely. This can prevent costly downtime and security breaches. Proactively address small issues before they become big, expensive problems.

Invest in training your staff to effectively use and manage the data orchestration system. This enhances efficiency and reduces the need for external consultants. Additionally, encourage cross-training to build a versatile team capable of handling multiple aspects of data orchestration.

Negotiate with vendors for better pricing, especially when you commit to long-term contracts. Consider partnerships or consortiums for shared services to reduce costs. But keep scalability in mind. Forward-thinking helps avoid expensive overhauls as your organization grows. Scale resources up or down based on demand to avoid paying for unused capacity.

Continuously monitor system performance to identify and address inefficiencies. Use analytics to understand usage patterns and optimize resource allocation. Regularly review your data orchestration strategy and costs. Stay open to adopting new, more efficient technologies and practices. Conduct regular cost-benefit analyses to ensure ongoing cost-effectiveness.

Finally, always evaluate various data orchestration tools and platforms to find one that best fits your organization's needs and budget. Consider open-source options, but also factor in potential hidden costs like support and customization. Avoid overbuying features you don't need.

Speaking of the right tools and platforms…

Shipyard is a cloud-based data orchestration platform designed to automate and streamline data workflows. If you’re looking for a place to start, here's how Shipyard could help an organization save on their data orchestration total cost of ownership:

1. Cloud-based efficiency and pre-built templates: Being a cloud-based solution, Shipyard can reduce the need for on-premises infrastructure, leading to savings in hardware and maintenance costs. Shipyard also offers a variety of pre-built templates and blueprints that accelerate the setup and deployment process, reducing the time and resources required to get data workflows up and running.

2. Ease of integration and a user-friendly interface: Shipyard supports integration with a wide range of tools and platforms, potentially simplifying the integration process. The platform provides a user-friendly interface, reducing the learning curve and training time for staff. This can decrease the costs related to training and enable your team to become productive more quickly.

3. Rapid deployment and time to value: Shipyard's focus on rapid deployment, ease of use, automation, and out-of-the-box scalability can lead to a quicker time to value and better return on investment.

By leveraging these features, organizations can streamline their data operations, reduce manual efforts, and optimize their overall data orchestration costs. It's important to evaluate how well Shipyard aligns with your specific data orchestration needs and goals to maximize these potential savings.

Sign up today to transform and refine your datasets into workflows in 10 minutes or less, reducing downtime and speeding up business processes—all without needing a credit card.