Solving the AWS Cost Monitoring Challenge in an Organization’s Cloud Journey

Mar-21 | Aman Aggarwal

Introduction

Many organizations struggle to keep their rising AWS costs under control due to the increasing ‘cloud chaos’. With decentralized teams, unpredictable infrastructure requirements, and unusual spends, monitoring AWS costs has become highly complex.

While Cloud brings agility and innovation with itself, it also brings the opportunity for unplanned runaway spend. These costs can sometimes be the result of uncommon deployments that could arise from absence of automated deployment and configuration tools.

Any organization using the AWS Cloud should have a cloud cost monitoring plan in place. It is important to identify the scope of increasing cost efficiencies on AWS and the earlier one optimizes their costs, the better it is for their ecosystem.

 

Cost Monitoring Significance

AWS tracking is hard and requires a keen set of eyes, certified Cloud architects and a process in place that affirms the safety and overall performance of AWS deployment in any organization through the right metrics. These practices depend upon numerous tools that collect, analyze, and provide statistics. The insights can then be utilized to perceive vulnerabilities and issues, improving overall performance, and optimize configurations.

 

Automation Solutions for Better Monitoring

An automation solution that enables cloud spend optimization can significantly help in monitoring these costs. These solutions also offer an advanced AWS Cloud usage analytics and optimization dashboard that provides real-time insights into the AWS spend to help organizations manage cloud resources effectively. Key features of an ideal solution include the following:

  • Detailed usage summary: The solution should provide Insights into the AWS bill summary, average daily spend, and past day costs along with monthly forecast & daily cost breakup on AWS services. It should also enable an organization to drill-down into past-month cost variations to identify specific usage types leading to any sudden cost changes.
  • View of daily/monthly costs: A mechanism should be in place to drill down into the daily & monthly cost variation for the services. This would certainly help organizations in understanding usage patterns & help make more informed decisions.
  • Monitoring EC2 costs: The costs on relational databases forms the biggest chunk in AWS. EC2 is a popular choice as it offers more control & flexibility. An ideal automated solution should help organizations understand the data transfer charges for all the EC2 instances and identify the ones costing maximum. Organizations must have pre-built dashboards where the right teams can view the data transfer charges for EC2. This will help in identifying EC2 instances with most data transfer out charges. The solution should provide usage quantity (no. of hours), the cost for on-demand, reserved, & spot instances along with data transfer charges for all EC2 instances.
  • Manage RDS costs: RDS is a cost effective database that lets you focus on important tasks by offering automation at multiple stages. The automation solution should track storage for data that has not been accessed for a while. An automation tool can move such data off RDS to a less costly storage service such as S3 by detecting unused & under utilized RDS instances. Policies should also be set up to avoid data dump into RDS.
 

Know the Metrics to Watch

Monitoring some key metrics can help keep a track of the health and performance of resources, inventory and usage. It’s important to understand the metrics that absolutely need to be monitored and the ones which could be redundant. Metrics like cost per day, response times, transaction rates, traffic stats, I/O stats, memory, and disk usage are some of the key areas that need constant tracking. Monitoring these enables users to account for future usage and issues, and optimize performance.

Organizations must also ensure that the priorities for each monitoring task is clearly defined. This will help ensure that the critical services remain operational and that there are no security breaches. Additionally, prioritizing notifications helps teams to effectively manage their time and efforts. The period and thresholds of these alarms must be set at a reasonable value. The necessary actions that need to be taken with each alarm should also be stated.

 

Monitoring needs to be a continuous process

Monitoring is not a “one and done” process as new projects and workloads will add cloud resources, which can drive increased AWS costs due to overprovisioning. It’s challenging to monitor costs manually on a continuous basis which makes it all the more important to monitor infrastructure changes continuously to optimize resource utilization and cost to eliminate surprises in AWS invoices.

Every single change that occurs across the AWS workload needs to be tracked so that the analytics solutions can provide insights on who made what change and when the change was made.

 

Conclusion

Cost optimization in the cloud can no longer be considered an ad hoc operation. It must be a well-structured, ongoing methodology that establishes a company's standard monitoring protocols. Efficient AWS cost control necessitates tracking instance usage and controlling it accordingly. To establish cost transparency, set up tagging, monitoring, and real-time dashboarding.

Most significantly, when it comes to AWS setup, the cost of indecisiveness and poor decision making is much greater than the time and energy required to fully comprehend AWS cost monitoring. This is needed in order to fully leverage the Cloud's scalability advantages and reduce AWS spend.

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Aman Agarwal
by Aman Aggarwal LinkedIn

Aman heads CloudKeeper at TO THE NEW and is an AWS certified Professional Architect & certified Scrum Master. With nearly 12 years of experience in Cloud & DevOps services, he holds strong technology & financial business acumen. Aman drives the strategy, P&L and roadmap for the Business Unit while managing a highly talented team of engineers and program managers.