Making The Best Use Of AWS Billing And Cost Management Data

Making The Best Use Of AWS Billing And Cost Management Data

Author:
Amber Gregorio Sr. Product Marketing Manager
Published: August 12, 2020
6 Min Read

The AWS Billing and Cost Management service informs you how much you have spent on the AWS cloud so you can forecast future spend, and it provides basic budget and notification tools so you can be alerted when spending is predicted to exceed budgets.

The AWS Billing and Cost Management service can help businesses monitor, control, and forecast costs. The graphical interface displays total spend per month per resource (e.g. EC2, S3, RDS), and can be filtered by available metrics such as API operation, Availability Zone, AWS Region, instance type, usage type, and tags. If you have multiple AWS accounts, you can consolidate them through the cost management console. Businesses can also see projected costs, set budgets, and receive notifications when costs exceed—or are projected to exceed— user-defined budgets.

CloudHealth brings business context to all of this data through the use of Perspectives. CloudHealth’s Perspectives give you the ability to group assets in ways that are meaningful to your business, such as by environment (e.g. development, staging, production), by product, or by any other grouping relevant to you. Our dynamic rule-based allocation tool keeps these Perspectives relevant over time by automatically adding newly tagged resources to the appropriate Perspective group. 

Most importantly, customers use CloudHealth’s Perspectives to group and manage all assets and costs—even those that are not taggable in AWS (e.g. VPC Endpoints), and indirect charges that are not attributable to specific resources—and associate them with unique business groups. 

Getting started with AWS Billing and Cost Management 

In order to see your current and forecasted costs and enable tracking against budgets, the AWS Billing and Cost Management service must be integrated with other AWS services—notably AWS Cost Explorer and AWS Budgets. Once you have enabled these integrations, Cost Explorer compiles spending data for the prior three months and then forecasts costs for the next three months. 

Although these services are ostensibly free to use, charges are applied for emailed budget notifications, API requests, and reports stored in an AWS S3 storage bucket. While it can be tempting to opt for “free” solutions over a paid one, many users realize that the charges associated with using the AWS Billing and Cost Management service add up quickly. 

Monitoring costs and usage with AWS Billing and Cost Management

AWS Cost and Usage Reports and AWS Budgets are features within the AWS Billing and Cost Management console that allow you to monitor usage and costs to date and identify trends. You can choose between setting a cost budget or a utilization budget, and receive notifications or view drawdown reports to see how costs and resource utilization are trending against budgets. 

CloudHealth extends governance into areas that AWS does not have visibility into, such as containers, operations on other public clouds, and data center activity. Most enterprises today operate in multi- or hybrid cloud environments, and AWS is unable to provide visibility into external environments. For this reason alone, many businesses have to look beyond native cloud tools to monitor their costs and usage. 

“Let’s face it: Getting data out of AWS is hard. No one can reasonably dissect the bill."

- CloudHealth Customer

Taking action on your AWS Billing and Cost Management data with CloudHealth

Optimize/Rightsize

Seeing where your money is being spent is all well and good, but the real value comes from being able to take action on that information. While AWS does make optimization recommendations, businesses have little visibility into how those recommendations are generated or when the algorithm changes. CloudHealth offers transparent, out-of-the-box rightsizing recommendations for compute and storage, as well as tools to fully customize the calculation of those recommendations. 

Also, the AWS Billing and Cost Management service does not collect all of the metrics needed to optimize your compute resources. In order to pull CPU metrics into their EC2 Optimizer, AWS requires the use of CloudWatch metrics, which can get pricey. CloudHealth integrates with vendors like DataDog, Wavefront, and New Relic for metrics collection, and has a tool called CloudHealth Agent to gather all the data you need to make informed decisions about resource provisioning and rightsizing.

Showback/Chargeback

CloudHealth’s Perspectives give you the ability to organize all of your costs into meaningful business groups, in turn enabling the ability to show back or charge back all costs to the group that incurred them. This powerful capability to re-allocate costs according to your unique business groupings separates CloudHealth from native cloud tools and other third-party cloud management vendors by enabling Cloud Financial Management with meaningful business context. 

Govern and Automate

The AWS Billing and Cost Management service offers simple notifications when costs or usage hit user-defined thresholds. And while it is possible to automate an action in response to meeting a threshold, the user must have coding skills to set this up using several AWS tools including Trusted Advisor, CloudWatch Events, and AWS Lambda. CloudHealth Governance and Automation is designed for easy use among both business and technical users, requiring no coding to set up and automate policies. 

Managing Reserved Instances and Savings Plans

It’s possible to manage Reserved Instances (RIs) and Savings Plans (SPs) through integration with the AWS Cost Explorer service. This service produces reports showing how many Reserved Instances and Savings Plans you have, how much they are saving you compared to On Demand pricing, and when the discount programs are due to expire.

Based on historical usage, the AWS Cost Explorer service can also make recommendations about purchasing Reserved Instances, although some customers have reported inaccurate recommendations coming from AWS Cost Explorer. If you choose to take advantage of the recommendations, the AWS Cost Explorer service will keep you up to date with how much you have saved using the discount, and alert you when the one-year or three-year reservation term is about to expire.

CloudHealth’s trusted Recommendations are designed to take the work out of RI and SP management, giving you options and explaining how each one impacts your KPIs. In addition to offering Recommendations, CloudHealth allows you to convert, exchange, and purchase discounts directly from the platform.
CloudHealth Savings Plans Recommendations

Cloud is complicated. But understanding your costs and usage, and taking action on that information, shouldn’t be. Native cloud tools often provide basic functionality, but users find themselves up against a wall when they start digging deeper. CloudHealth was developed out of the need to understand our own AWS costs and usage, and so we get how hard it can be to try to run your business efficiently using limited cloud-provider tools. If you’d like to learn more, we would love to give you a demo and talk about your unique business challenges.

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amber-gregorio-cloudhealth-bio
Amber Gregorio, Sr. Product Marketing Manager

Amber Gregorio is a Senior Product Marketing Manager at CloudHealth by VMware. She and her team own the development and implementation of the go-to-market strategy for the CloudHealth’s industry-leading multi- and hybrid cloud management software. Prior to joining CloudHealth, Amber worked in Product Marketing for an AI-powered customer engagement solution, and spent over 10 years in the financial services industry. Outside of work Amber enjoys weightlifting and competitive powerlifting.

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