This is part 8 in a series on cloud cost management.
Today's cloud cost optimization & reporting tools tested have various stages of development. All of them can fetch basic records and report basic costs. Most do trending out of the box, mostly through what appears to be simple averaging. Some do struggle to get their data fetching connection to work properly though.
What is surprising given the lean, slick nature of the tools is that they universally fail to take into account one of the best data sources available, you. None of the tools tested ask what trends are important. They don’t interact with the user in terms of upcoming changes, or expected costs. This is not uncommon in many products (my bank doesn’t ask me about an upcoming payday before telling me my expected balance, either). It’s disappointing in this application space, since in other ways it brings “the right people in the room” all at once, and could be far better at prediction than things like simple rolling averages. I predict whomever figures this out will make the next big leap.
Some products will include other basic health checks and recommendations. In a few, they are the beginnings of a management framework; what is currently termed “cloud enablement.” By reaching up, they can in fact add something to true framework products since most frameworks do not handle assignment of real costs, usually opting for a vanilla approach of allowing the administrator to assign some made-up value. I expect that the cloud enablement tools may at some point begin integrating real costs, and perhaps even allow charging based on some cost plus percentage. This is not a feature to be found currently.
My wish list.
Products should ask for the tags upfront. A little guidance would go a long way.
Modeling. You know what you’d want, estimate what it will cost. Every developer I spoke to mentioned this.
Dashboards by purpose, not by function
An ability to look for missing tags (exception reporting)
All cost accounting has overhead. These cloud cost optimization & reporting products have a cost and involve additional storage to have the cloud providers store the cost records and profiling data. While some of the cloud vendors are updating their reporting tools and adding functions, the products listed have a more finished feels, and most make the transition from simple cost reporting to cost optimization and even resource management. If you’re running more than a single application in the cloud, chances are they will save you money over a year, more than returning their licensing cost. Don’t be afraid to try them out, they’re easy to set up. Remember to take a small bit of time to decide what to track, and get those tags in. Having them in for a month or so before makes these tools easier to understand and more useful. Most tools give you a month free with all the features available, so it’s better to be prepared going in. In any case, you’ll end up with a better understanding of where your money is going and the basic charge models out there. That is information that any cloud consumer can take to the bank.