Managing Multiple Accounts in Amazon Web Services
by Vikram Pillai
Does your organization have more than one Amazon Web Services account? Do you have standalone accounts that are not linked to a consolidated billing account? Or more than one consolidated billing account? If so, you are not alone. Due to the incremental and distributed adoption of AWS across enterprises, many IT departments are struggling with AWS account complexity that is impeding them from taking back control of the cost and usage of their cloud infrastructure.
While Amazon provides some of the best features in the industry for transparency of cost and usage for cloud infrastructure - e.g. Consolidated Billing (CB), Detailed Billing Records (DBR), CloudTrail, usage reports, and more - these features can be difficult to use at enterprise scale due to the need to consolidate across multiple accounts. To support enterprises, CloudHealth has extended the AWS Console to provide a easy to setup and use solution that delivers a true consolidated view of cost and usage.
For an Operations or IT Finance manager, controlling the cost and usage of your AWS cloud infrastructure across multiple services and projects can be a headache at the best of times. But if you are responsible for a large enterprise, you likely have the additional challenge of managing multiple accounts that must all be aggregated to get a true accounting of cost or usage. This aggregation can be made more complex when an organization has:
More than one consolidated billing account
Accounts not linked to any consolidated bill
A large number of accounts (e.g. dozens or hundreds of accounts)
How CloudHealth Can Help
CloudHealth allows you to aggregate the cost and usage of all your accounts - including multiple consolidated and/or standalone accounts - into a single integrated console. You can enter the accounts in CloudHealth manually or through a bulk import, where they will automatically be scanned and consolidated. This gives you a true consolidation reporting solution for your infrastructure and allows you to perform enterprise-wide cost and usage optimization analysis.
A Brief Tour of Multiple Accounts in CloudHealth
Let's walk through an example of how CloudHealth supports enterprise aggregation needs.
Below is a report showing accounts imported to CloudHealth by a sample customer. The accounts include one consolidated billing account that has four linked accounts, and a separate standalone account.
If you run a Cost Allocation report for this customer, the report will automatically aggregate the data across the accounts into a single integrated statement.
You can also customize this report to categorize by billing account, in order to see the allocation of costs specific to the multiple AWS statements you receive each month.
You can also view the historical costs for all accounts, a single account, or a subset of accounts in a single view, as shown for another customer. In this example, the history is a blended view from two different consolidated billing accounts -- the switch happened in mid-June; but the history presented here is a single unified view.
If you want to get more information on specific charges, you simply click on the specific item in the chart or table to view the supporting line items from the Amazon DBR. For example, if you drill-down on the $46k cost for EBS-Snapshots in July, you will be presented with the aggregated line item charges. Even if these charges span more than one consolidated account, they will be aggregated into a single consolidated view.
Another complication introduced by multiple billing accounts is purchasing and managing reserved instances (RIs). CloudHealth gives you features to make new RI purchases, as well as the ability to optimize existing RI inventory. Just as we do with reporting, these features work across multiple billing accounts to provide seamless aggregation for enterprise customers. Our RI management functionality recognizes the boundaries of billable accounts, and correctly analyzes current RI inventory and instance usage to provide actionable recommendations.
Multiple consolidated billing accounts and/or standalone billing accounts can add substantial complexity to an enterprise managing cloud infrastructure. While Amazon’s features in support of transparency are unquestionably the best in the industry, they do require work from the customer to effectively use the cloud services at enterprise scale.