Multi-Cloud Cost Control is Easier with a Unified View

Amanda Mitchell, Apptio

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It’s well established that investment in cloud is seeing massive growth, but also trending is adoption of multiple clouds in any single environment. Most organisations today are using two or more cloud providers due to factors such as variety of choice, acquisitions of companies with existing cloud infrastructure, and pioneering DevOps teams that adopted cloud early.

Given cloud-cost control is a top cloud-management concern for organisations, the challenge becomes: How do you efficiently manage multiple clouds when each provider has a separate set of billing tools? Without a single dashboard and a unified view of all cloud activity, managing cloud cost is an inefficient use of engineering time and resources. Organisations need a better way to solve the cloud-cost management issue.

What’s driving multi-cloud cost challenges?

Once cloud projects and workloads go beyond the migration and testing phases, and into at-scale production, all cloud costs are typically allocated and potentially charged back to specific teams. Finance teams find this activity challenging (it’s already challenging enough with the rest of the business), especially with many cloud service providers’ native billing tools. Factor in multiple cloud service providers, and this task becomes quite complicated.

Native billing reports and files only give one view of what IT teams are spending, which means IT must go into each provider tool, find the billings, find the current costs, and summarise them. This is a very manual, time-consuming, and inaccurate process. The best spreadsheets in the world can’t keep up.

Take Bitmovin – a Software as a Service (SaaS) video services company – as a case in point for why organisations need to ditch the spreadsheet in favour of an easier, unified way to view their cloud costs. The company originally tried a DIY approach to using Amazon Web services (AWS), Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud Platform (GCP) tools separately. It faced a multitude of billing files, discounts, and prepaid services that needed monitoring and controlling. Going through the billing data of each cloud provider tool one-by-one, locating the invoices, and compiling and summarising the data in spreadsheets proved to be a colossal waste of engineering time and resources.

Recognising it would be much better to monitor and optimise costs in one place, the company deployed a multi-cloud cost-management platform that provides a single dashboard and unified view of all its cloud costs. Bitmovin is now able to:

  • Improve tagging coverage across AWS, Azure, and GCP
  • Allocate cloud costs to specific customers to calculate their cost-per-customer
  • Identify and shut off dev-and-test instances that were left running
  • Monitor and control their multi-cloud costs from one dashboard

Who needs help managing multi-cloud costs, and why?

For the FinOps team – a cross-functional group spanning IT, finance, and engineering with the goal of increasing an organisation's ability to understand cloud costs and make trade-offs – there needs to be more agility when managing cloud costs across multiple vendors at scale. This is where a modern, proven, multi-cloud cost management solution comes into play.

This emerging business practice uses cloud data and business logic to identify efficiency opportunities for optimisation and opportunity costs. Having a unified cost-management solution facilitates multi-cloud cost conversations with finance teams; each conversation is based on the same accurate data source. Keeping IT and finance teams aligned enables faster decisions about their multi-cloud strategy.

These teams are often accountable to answer business questions and report on costs, as they relate to Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), back to a greater group. They make sense of multi-cloud spending and infrastructure growth.

Unfortunately, this level of multi-cloud cost-data ingestion and analysis doesn’t come stock with native tools, nor is reporting consistent across different provider tools.

So, how are IT and finance teams tracking growing cloud costs, especially in multi-cloud environments? By using tools with a single pane of glass view into all data, and across all clouds, to gain a unified, multi-cloud experience.


Five things to look for in a multi-cloud cost-management solution
If your teams are looking for a multi-cloud cost-management solution, look for these five features:

Accurate and timely data ingestion at cloud speed

Most cloud services charge by the second now. Each day has 86,400 seconds. Each business week, over 400,000. Multiply that by the number of unique cloud services your teams are using. Yeah, that’s a lot of data to ingest.

Are your finance teams ready to manage this amount of data? And how many of them were planning on doing this manually?

IT leaders need a multi-cloud cost-management platform to support timely and informed decisions. Look for a solution that addresses multiple cloud service providers, accounts for custom pricing, and is backed by a strong data analytics engine that can present costs in near real-time. Relying on near real-time cost data means your teams understand costs as they are accrued, and do not have to wait until the end of the month to leverage granular, accurate cloud cost insights.

Leverage AI to respond quickly to anomalies

With Anomaly Detection, which sends alerts indicating cloud usage spikes and other unusual patterns, you can quickly respond to unnecessary cloud spend and avoid cloud waste.

Anomaly Detection works cross-cloud, and relies on sophisticated artificial intelligence (AI) technology to detect statistically meaningful cost anomalies every time you receive billing updates from multiple cloud vendors. Alerts based on pre-defined cost thresholds, which are triggered by usage anomalies, allow you to quickly resolve billing issues before they become big problems at the end of the month.

Get the multi-cloud cost data that is important to you

Using multiple cloud service providers doesn’t mean your teams should waste time poring over multiple billing reports. Ingesting all cloud costs into a single solution allows you to create dashboards that make sense to each team or user, allowing IT leaders and teams to:

  • Track cloud spend against your budget and forecast any overruns
  • Reduce multi-cloud cost waste and take a proactive stance against cost spikes
  • Utilise recommendations for rightsizing for greater cost efficiency

Granular multi-cloud infrastructure cost management

Don’t just look at multi-cloud bills every month – get the ability to look deeply into any specific resource driving specific costs. Using this kind of multi-cloud infrastructure management allows teams to narrow down any subset of data you want to focus on. It also helps unearth resources that might not be attributed correctly – all from a single pane of glass.

This resource-level reporting on multiple cloud service providers allows your teams to normalise data across cloud providers and break down what would typically be siloed. With a single data set to work from, everyone can be on the same page when reporting on and/or optimising the multi-cloud infrastructure, or reporting back on its costs at scale.

Reporting multi-cloud costs against real business goals

IT leaders have a growing responsibility to report on, and answer questions specific to, business KPIs and health, especially in context of larger enterprise-cloud spending. Having the ability to contextualise multi-cloud spending against business-specific KPIs allows them to visualise trends and activity related to business goals.

A multi-cloud cost management platform will allow IT leaders to focus on mapping cloud spend against the specific business rules that need addressing. For instance, they can tell business leadership teams how much each cloud service costs for every unit of business value created. Or they can contextualise cost of multi-cloud services against other known business KPIs. Now teams can bring multi-cloud cost insight out of the billing report and into the strategy conversation.


View data across all clouds in a unified, multi-cloud experience

Staying competitive in the enterprise space is already chock full of challenges – managing growing multi-cloud costs shouldn’t be one of them. The multi-cloud cost-management platform, Apptio Cloudability, addresses this challenge by ingesting at-scale cost data, building usable insights, and reporting on all cloud cost – no matter the service – in one easy-to-use view. Empower your IT leaders to see what you’re spending, where you’re spending it, and to what benefit.

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