Do you have complete visibility into your cloud spend? In my last Post regarding FinOps I talked about the first steps like creating visibility about your cloud spend. Now, we want to start and deep dive into these starting points one by one. Today, we are making your Cloud spend transparent. This is the very first step on your journey to master the cloud costs in your company. Visibility in the cloud means eliminating the blind spots that can lead to overspends, performance inefficiencies, and security issues.

Creating transparency about your public cloud spend is important

If your business loses visibility in the cloud resources and spendings, it can result in a loss of control over IT management and data security. One example of how a business loses control when it loses visibility is when individual departments set up their own Line of Business “shadow” IT environments. That means departments can launch unapproved applications themselves. Another example is duplicating the cost and capabilities of existing and approved applications. This will generate isolated and unconnected data. And your data may go into a black box system in the cloud, and you are not able to use it properly. But much more important is the fact that you get transparency about where and by whom the public cloud costs are generated.

Shadow IT creates disparate environments that are difficult to control, optimize, and govern. Furthermore, to the compliance issues, a potential lack of data security can create a serious thread for your business. Your shadow IT environments normally are not included in your disaster recovery or business continuity plan. If a disaster were to occur, it would be that much more difficult for the business to recover, if possible. Consequently, total visibility in the cloud is important.

Start analysing your costs by using build in tools

Your hyperscaler’s toolset is the first place for you to start off. Such as Azure Cost Analysis or AWS Cost and Usage Report. Before you can properly control and optimize your cloud costs, you need to understand where costs originated within your organization. It’s also useful to know how much money your services cost, and in support of which environments and systems. Visibility into the full spectrum of costs is critical to accurately understand organizational spending patterns. You can use spending patterns to enforce cost control mechanisms, like budgets.

In general, each update in each month is cumulative. So, each version of the Cost and Usage Reports includes all the billing data for the month to date. The reports generated throughout the month are estimated and subject to change during the rest of the month. Different services provide your usage-based billing information at different times. So, you may notice updates to a certain hour or day come in at different times. Your service provider finalizes the Cost and Usage Report’s usage charges at the end of the month. Usually, after an invoice has been issued for your usage charges.

What if you use a multicloud environment?

But the monitoring tools that cloud service providers hand over to you are not enough to give you a full picture of your cloud environment if you’re in a hybrid or multicloud environment. If you’re operating with on-premise infrastructure, cloud service providers are unable to integrate with your data. With a third-party cloud management platform, you can merge your on-premises data along with your cloud data. You can use this for a singular view into your hybrid and multicloud environments. 

Additionally, because of security concerns, cloud service providers don’t give you full access to public cloud data centers. Cloud service providers don’t provide the depth of information needed to effectively manage the cloud. When using a cloud management platform, companies can create reports and drill down into cost drivers in a singular platform. Having consolidated information in one place and not spread across multiple native tools is important when looking holistically at your entire environment.

Using Cloud Management Platforms to have deep visibility

Most larger companies and corporations typically pursue a multi-cloud strategy. This approach considers risk mitigation so as not to be completely disrupted in disaster scenarios. Or it addresses the need to continue processing and storing some data on-premise. But these multi-cloud scenarios also add another layer of complexity. Not only from a management perspective, but also from a cloud cost management perspective. To address this, a cloud management platform can help accurately measure and manage cloud costs. This came along while providing a complete view of your cloud infrastructure. You can also choose to use the cloud management platform to look at costs by dynamic business groups such as departments, projects, etc.

Whenever usage is measured, it leads to responsible usage. When departments or individuals are shown exactly how many cloud computing resources they have consumed, this can lead to careful usage. This can be done by implementing interdepartmental chargeback. From an organizational perspective, accurate monitoring of cloud costs helps to keep costs under control. And to determine which departments or business units are responsible for the increase in costs. Organizations can also set thresholds that, when exceeded, alert management or the CFO when costs exceed a certain limit. Cloud management platforms can also help your company to shut down systems that are not needed during non-production hours.

Briefly, cloud management platforms can help enterprises gain complete visibility into their costs with complete and centralized billing data and usage information. This helps enterprises in analyzing and forecasting their budgets on cloud infrastructure costs according to different metrics. Complete visibility about costs also leads to responsible cloud usage.

Which one to use?

To be very honest. If you use Cloudability from Apptio, Cloud Health from VMWare, CloudCheckr, Flexera, Turbonomic or build your own dashboards with PowerBI, it makes no difference. All of them are doing the job well and you can drill into you cloud spend in one place. The one or the other brings in some more functionalities here and there, but to control your costs, all of these are feasible.

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