Cloud Provider Billing – Drowning in Information, Thirsting for Knowledge

Today, I am speaking to the cloud aficionados out there, the folks who have been using public cloud for a while now.  Your company has likely scaled its Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) footprint to hundreds or thousands of instances in a very short time, because cloud service providers (CSPs) like AWS, Azure and Google have made IT infrastructure easy to consume.
Of course, your Chief Financial Officer is wondering just what the heck is going on!  He or she has seen public cloud spend skyrocket from a few thousand dollars per  month to more than a half million dollars per month in less than a year and a half.
The accounts payable team is inundated with monthly bills from one or more providers, not to mention several accounts within those providers. There is an overwhelming amount of detail or, the case of some of the less mature cloud providers, no real detail at all. Some bills show hourly compute details for every instance; some show compute-seconds per instance; some just show a rollup of month-to-date costs by region. Heaven forbid that the billing be reported in more than one currency.
Accounts payable  must then sift through that data and figure out how to allocate those costs fairly to the appropriate business units, projects and groups within your company. This must happen before your company closes out its own books at the end of the month or quarter, and before earnings are reported to Wall Street.
Does this sound familiar? If so, how can you break the vicious cycle?
Well, one thing you can do immediately is to leverage some type of tagging strategy.  As mentioned in a previous post, tagging a powerful tool that people just don’t seem to leverage as often as they ought to. Most of the public providers support tagging to help you correlate your billing, although there may be some limitations, as discussed before.
A better approach is to use a lightweight cloud management platform, such as cloudSM™, in which you can ingest your existing cloud resources, across cloud providers, using multiple credentials, and quickly sort them by project, group and user.  After that initial ingest, when you provision new resources, you can ensure they are in the proper projects and groups from the outset. As billing is pulled in, it is correlated to the cloud service items under management, and costs are properly allocated automatically as well, making reporting straightforward.
The beauty of this approach: It is independent of the cloud provider . In fact, the same approach can be used for internal private clouds, such as VMware and OpenStack. In this case, you will not be ingesting billing, but instead can assign prices to marketplace items in the self-service user portals.  Cool!
You move from drowning in information, to having better insight into your costs and actionable knowledge at your fingertips. Your CFO is smiling, because now you have helped him or her regain control of the cloud.