Show Me The Consolidated Billing!

Sep 15 2013 | by Zev Schonberg

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As the cloud permeates throughout the enterprise, monitoring and optimization become an organizational imperative. Consolidated Billing is an excellent example.
AWSbill
It used to be acceptable for several business units to run (and pay for) their own cloud deployments separately. Working within small business units or teams, early adopters would experiment with cloud computing and open their own AWS accounts. However, as resource consumption and costs increased, companies recognized the importance of a central view of all cloud costs. Amazon rolled out consolidated billing in response to this growing need. As a direct result, the C-level execs or other business managers could stay on top of spend while allowing business units relative autonomy within their deployment.

One Paying Account to Link Them All

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         Courtesy of Amazon Web Services

Over time, the AWS bills added up, and someone asked a relatively innocent question: “So, how much did we spend on the cloud last quarter?”

Good question! The answer is quite straightforward on AWS. Once consolidated billing is set up, you can access your bill from a single account, and start leveraging the company’s combined spend for volume discounts. In Amazonian terms, you need to set up a single ‘paying’ account, then link the rest of the accounts in your AWS deployment to receive one comprehensive bill. Here’s how to do it.

From Cloud Monitoring to Optimization

What’s really interesting is the implication of setting up consolidated billing. Now that you’re measuring cloud spend, the inevitable next step is to manage it. Once the aggregated cloud spend is clear and visible at the bottom line, everyone has their own take on what it means. Can the cost be justified? Why does Marketing need so many resources? How do you measure cloud ROI anyway?

Again, all great questions. This time, the answers are slightly more elusive and require a bit more tweaking. Based on customer feedback, a solid monitoring and optimization strategy goes a long way.

Here’s how it works on Cloudyn. Once consolidated billing is in place, you’re ready for cross account optimization. The result is visibility into and optimization of resource consumption and pricing.

On-demand vs. reserved instance buying is a case in point. While it doesn’t make sense for departments and small teams to pay for reserved instances they don’t necessarily need, Cloudyn consistently shows how buying reserved instances across the company’s entire deployment could make a dramatic difference to the bottom line.

Cloudyn analyzes your paying account for usage patterns across every instance type, in any given AZ, across all linked accounts – complete with ROI calculations and end of lock-in comparisons. These recommendations make it easy for management to set the best cloud policies across the entire organization. Once in place, they can be applied to any business group account that needs to work in the cloud.

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