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How to get cloud cost reporting under control

Patrick McClory, SVP of Platform Engineering and Delivery Services, Datapipe | April 25, 2016
You have to standardize on a set of descriptive tags to identify the assignment of resources to cost centers.

Use the data (or get help with it)

It’s a best practice to have reports that clearly define where your costs exist in a given deployment or even across your enterprise. If you don’t use the data beyond cost chargeback, you’re not maximizing its full potential and value. One of the great things about having data segmented around cost in an on-demand compute cost structure is that business units are prompted to ask questions they weren’t considering previously. Examples of these are:

  • Is it really worth $’x’ to run 15 different environments?
  • Can I pay less for less performance where I don’t need it?
  • If I pay more (scale up), can I avoid having to refactor/redevelop a part of my application?

Some of these business-level questions presented above have an underlying consideration of cost-to-value vs. a simple cost consideration. At this point, being able to include other sources of data in the overall analysis becomes critical in order to identify a relative cost as compared to performance (system or business-level). For web-scale applications, understanding the relative cost per user and being able to tie the cost of infrastructure services to client delivery or new client acquisition is just one of the capabilities that are driving innovation in the cost management market.

For steady-state and legacy workloads, the ability to easily lock-in AWS cost optimizations with Reserved Instances is a boon to traditional IT organizations looking for guidance and recommendations as they get on board with cloud. In the case of hybrid deployments (private data center + cloud), these third party tools can act as a great way to distill the enormity of data that’s available into actionable concerns. This small consideration tends to reduce the confusion and frustration of managing the cloud into a much more manageable package. 

Based on everything that’s out there to help you get moving with a successful cost reporting strategy for your cloud deployments, it’s possible to satisfy your financial curiosity while also adding value to the business. While this all sounds pretty daunting for someone just starting out, get moving now and iterate over time. 


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