AWS Cost Control Basics

For more than a decade AWS has been leading the cloud services market being by far the most popular cloud service provider. AWS has a compelling business model and a rich service offering. They did a very good job of convincing companies to move to their cloud by taking away most of the operational load, enabling professionals to focus on the core parts of the business.

With the emergence of cloud and pay-as-you-go models, some thought that software licensing would be a thing of the past and that the need for SAM would be minimal or only focused on on-premise deployment. But the new world of software still requires SAM and the focus extends from asset management to asset and service management. Cloud cost management primarily addresses the risk of unapproved or negligent implementations of cloud services either by individuals or entire departments.

Effective cloud management is all about developing the right protocols to monitor usage related cost and empowering the right people at the right time to efficiently carry out their job. From experience, I know that many SAM professionals have never touched a cloud console. As a result, accidents can happen, like over deploying 10,000 instances. Compared to on-premise over-deployment where you only pay at annual true-ups or as a result of an audit, cloud spent is charged immediately and cannot be delayed. If payment is delayed too long, same as your utility providers you will be disconnected. Being disconnected could mean going out of business for some companies.

A very basic protocol for monitoring and managing AWS cost is by creating a billing alarm. This is a built-in function of AWS which helps you to estimate AWS charges and receive a notification if the budget has been exceeded. This feature is often overlooked but should be in my opinion the first thing you do before using AWS. Amazon offers CloudWatch a cost management service as part of its Management & Governance service offering.

You can create an alarm based on multiple metrics, for example:

  • By Service
  • By linked account
  • Total estimated charge

You can select an amount based on your actual budget and get notified if your budget has been reached or exceeded. Additionally, you can add multiple email addresses that would get notified so you can avoid the risk of someone being on vacation and not reading their emails on time for example.


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