How to Help Customers Simplify Their Cloud Bills
From IT Pro Today
Cloud computing can be costly. And while there are a variety of techniques available for optimizing cloud spend, any company with a sizeable cloud footprint should also be working to make their cloud bill easier to understand. If you struggle to figure out what you actually paid for when reviewing a cloud bill, it’s hard to know where resources are being wasted or how you can make your cloud more cost-effective.
This article isn’t about reducing overall cloud spending, a topic that has already been covered widely; instead, it’s about empowering yourself to make sense of the cloud bill with it arrives, enabling you to manage cloud costs more effectively.
What’s in a Cloud Bill?
Cloud bills vary from one cloud vendor to the next, but they all share some common characteristics. They are usually delivered in the form of an interactive Web-based console that summarizes your overall cloud computing costs for a given period, and breaks down those costs into different categories of services (like virtual machine instances and data storage). Most cloud billing interfaces also let you drill down deeper into these categories to see exactly where and when specific costs were incurred.
Cloud providers usually provide tools to help you interpret or visualize your various costs, too. And some predict future expenditures based on current billing. These sorts of tools can be somewhat helpful for interpreting complex bills, but they’re usually not enough on their own to get a full understanding of where you’re spending your money in the cloud.
And that’s only to be expected; after all, cloud vendors are in the business of making money, and they don’t exactly go out of their way to help you figure out how to spend less and lower your cloud bill.
Simplifying a Cloud Bill
All of this is why it’s important to take additional steps to ensure that your cloud bill is easy for you to interpret. You want to ensure that you can easily:
- Identify where you are spending the most and the least.
- Map expenditures to the various departments or teams within your organization that are responsible for them.
- Understand how cost trends for different services or departments, as well as the company as a whole, are changing over time.
- Assess how cost trends correlate (or don’t) with other events, such as a seasonal peak in demand.
There are several steps you can take to achieve this type of visibility into your cloud bill, no matter how much faith you put in the cost-analysis tools provided by your cloud vendor.
1. Implement a cloud tagging strategy. On most cloud platforms, you can “tag” different resources to help organize and manage them. Creating and enforcing a consistent tagging strategy is useful for many reasons. For example, it makes it easy to perform a collective action (like “delete all databases with the tag ‘temporary'”) in one click, rather than having to perform the action repetitively.
But tags are also critical for making your cloud bill easier to interpret. When all of your resources are tagged, you can use tag groups to help identify which resources are costing the most money, track spending trends, and so on.
Ideally, your tagging strategy will allow different teams and departments in your company to …