The more workloads you move to the cloud, the more difficult it is to predict monthly cloud costs. Cloud services vendors such as Amazon, Google and Microsoft can help organizations avoid capital costs for new hardware, but that does not mean that you have made more cost-effective decisions about the specific services offered by these and other cloud vendors.
And it’s amazing that you’re only paying for the services you need, you need the CPA, the software engineer, the goods dealer and the keen eye for detail to try to parse your monthly bill.
This is because some cloud resources, such as high-performance, multi-CPU instances and high-volume storage repositories, run the meter quickly. Also, prices often change because vendors continually lower their fees to stay competitive or sludge the water with future resource use specialties that reward an advance plan known as reserve instances.
Some vendors offer gimmicks to get your data free of charge for incoming or outgoing data transfers. To complicate matters further, as vendors bring new cloud services, understanding the effects of choosing one type of service over another can be daunting.
Finally, the virtual instance of a CPU or hard drive is not the same across providers, making comparison shopping impossible.
The good news is that there are many tools and services designed to help organizations manage and optimize cloud costs. Tracey Wu of Forrester Research recently updated its report on this market segment. And Gartner has a list of 20 vendors in its “Cloud Management and Tooling” category.
Why Should Companies Use Cloud Management Tools?
There are several reasons to consider using these tools and services. You may be in the market to switch to new suppliers to add features or you may not be happy with your supplier’s downtime or level of customer support.
You may want to have better insights into your cloud costs by staying on top of price changes or by setting a better schedule of your reserve instances to set better price ranges. This is where commodity trading skills come in handy.
Cost analysis is part of cloud instance optimization, which must be a continuous process. This is because the price is so dynamic and the various resources are so tightly connected that it is not immediately obvious.
Vendors offering this service have sophisticated optimization routines. The right tool can help you identify mismanaged instances or adjust the size of your instance with your specific needs as you scale up or down.
Finally, you may want to explore more cost-effective or performance-efficient instances.
Ironically, finding the cost of a device or service designed to help you calculate cloud costs can be a bit confusing. Some vendors have very transparent and publicly priced pages, others allow you to review their rate sheets just after you sign up, and some even go so far as to make it clear that you only get access to the “free” range. Set yourself up for an invasion of registration and marketing calls and emails.
This growing market segment has many players. Here is a sample of vendors who fall into three main categories of cloud cost management offerings.
1. AWS-Only Tools, Local and Third Party
AWS has a number of tools on its own to help you understand your monthly cloud bill and predict your future cloud costs. These include:
AWS Cost Explorer is the grandfather of cost analysis portals and has plenty of data – you need to look at everything to figure it out.
The Cost and Use Report describes what these monthly reports are and how to interpret them.
AWS cost anomaly detection can help you identify odd spending patterns.
Other tools that provide optimization recommendations include AWS Trusted Advisor, AWS CloudWatch, Cloudtrail and S3 Analytics.
Qualys’ TotalCloud is a third party tool specifically for AWS. There is a 15-day free trial with a permanently free plan if your monthly bill is less than $ 5,000. If not, plans start at $ 49 a month. TotalCloud has hundreds of pre-defined templates that can be used to automate and optimize various AWS functions, such as automatically terminating unused instances or detecting anomalies.
2. Multi-Cloud Comparison Tools
Most enterprises of any size use multiple cloud providers, so you’ll want to explore these tools. They cover a wide range, multiple vendors, or multiple, deep, specific vendors.
In many cases, capabilities will be limited once you exceed the more familiar cloud services, such as CPU, disk and memory. Some have free trials, which you should definitely try before you pay anything. Here are some examples:
Optio Cloudability reserve offers instance planners and proper size analysis. Optio purchased Cloudability in 2019 and has other optimization tools in its portfolio. For Cloudability, there’s a 30-day free trial (with detailed registration and potential sale exposure) and then it’s $ 499 / month.
Cloudbolt.io has two different offerings (Cloud Management Platform and Costing Optimization Tool, but the latter is only for AWS and Azure). Free trials require major exposure to registration and potential sales. No price is available.
Cloudorado.com 11 compares cloud server, compute, and storage providers (including the big three) and generalizes the CPU with AWS’s ECU as a way to compare CPU power across service providers. You set your parameters for RAM, storage, CPU and OS types and this shows you the total monthly cost and you can drill down the details of each provider. There is a good balance between giving you a lot of information and a broad field of suppliers, so this is a good starting point as long as you are interested in one of the suppliers analyzed. The service is free (vendors pay to list) and it’s up to you to optimize your own expenses and tell you exactly what your parameters are.
CloudHarmony.com offers a directory of over 100 providers. However, it shows the basics of everything (along with Panopta’s uptime statistics, which is an independent way to check vendors’ promises and rights) without any cost information. If you are open to trying out one of the lesser-known providers, this is a great place to at least get acquainted with what each one has to offer.
Densify has a variety of resource optimization tools with PaaS cost for VMware, Openshift and Kubernetes in addition to the big three. There are free (registration required) trials, but no public pricing. There is also a page detailing the configuration requirements for running their tools.
The GorillaStack Cost Optimization Tool, targeted at AWS and Azure, starts at $ 50 / mo on your overall cloud cost.
The Harness covers the big three, as well as the Kubernetes. It has more than cost features and is designed to be used in a continuous software delivery environment. There are open source and permanent free plan (up to five services). Paid plans start at $ 100 per month for 100 services and unlimited plan with free 14-day trial.
Komiser covers IBM’s cloud and others. There are free and paid plans starting at $ 169 / mo.
NetApp has several different tools for the big thirds, including Spot.io and CloudCheckr, which are part of its larger analytics platform.
ParkMyCloud has been acquired by IBM. It also includes Alibaba’s Cloud. No price is available.
Virtana Cloud Cost Management Metricly called CloudWisdom. It only includes AWS and Azure, there is a forever free trial for a single resource, otherwise $ 5 / device / mo. Given this price, it is a great starting point for small cloud installations or to experiment with the genre.
VMware CloudHealth includes a large trio, but you must run separate tools for each provider, which somewhat defeats the purpose of comparison. VMware purchased CloudHealth in 2018
3. Advisors (for the most part)
A third option is cloud consultants, who offer free or low-cost comparison or cost analysis to entice you to sign up for their full optimization services, which usually charge a percentage of your total cloud costs. These include:
Cloudsaver.com is for AWS only. The company says its consultants use a proprietary suite of over 30 cloud optimization tools to help their clients save money.
Cloud Custodian has open source YAML rules that help you set different run-time parameters to save money on your big three cloud bills.
Duckbill Group has a free service (with registration) to check your AWS bill, but they want to pay you for consulting services soon.
Flexera.com is a big three and full-service offering for VMware that includes cost and optimization, but they can analyze the bills of other cloud providers. There is no price available, but they have fixed price ranges.
Rackspace Cloud Optimization negotiates the big three and also includes VMware. No price is provided.
CloudZero.com has its own cost analysis tool that supports Kubernetes and integrates with Snowflake. But they are often in business to offer other advice. Free cost analysis trials require major exposure to registration and potential sales.
TrackIT only sells AWS managed services add-ons and custom cloud cost consulting.
Kubecost is just to analyze Kubernetes costs. Free, paid plans for a cluster with a 15-day history start at $ 449 per month.
Opsani is now part of Cisco and their AppDynamics platform, which provides continuous cloud run-time optimization in the big three, Kubernetes and other clouds. There are projects available for CPU and memory optimization only, or for deeper integration with frameworks like CloudBees and Github. Their pricing page showing a number of projects without revealing any dollar figures.
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