Question

How can companies tally up cloud costs for multi-cloud or complex cloud systems?

Answer

Companies can pursue cost accounting for cloud services in different ways. Some of the most primitive approaches involve entering raw data into Microsoft Excel and using it in presentations. Newer and more sophisticated vendor products operate on the basis of building a dedicated dashboard to look at multi-cloud costs over time.

Many of these new dashboard options offer human administrators the ability to plug each cloud service and its cost model into a particular digital environment, which will break down cloud costs on an ongoing basis.

These types of systems can show individual cloud costs according to providers, and break down individual costs for different services offered by one provider. For instance, for many companies using Amazon Web Services (AWS), a comprehensive cloud cost breakdown can itemize Amazon EC2, Amazon S3, or Amazon management services. For companies using Microsoft Azure, the system can break down cloud costs for associated elements such as Azure virtual machines, Azure storage facilities, or Azure security tools, or other various components of what Azure, as a major new cloud services provider, offers clients.

The best cloud cost dashboards have features like drag-and-drop capability and a variety of chart displays. In addition to graph charts that show collective costs, line charts can show the cost breakdowns over a timeline, which helps companies to make particular decisions. For instance, a time-based costs map can help companies to figure out how to handle subscription-based cloud services that may change from month to month. In some cases, monitoring the budget can help decision makers learn more about the performance of certain cloud or virtualized systems. These systems can help companies to approach a cloud migration plan or other long-term strategy goal.

One of the most competitive tools for assessing cloud costs is the Turbonomic 5.9 interface, which integrates various cost drivers into its dashboard to display results with the kinds of graphs and charts discussed above. Color-coded tags show the costs of services from Amazon, Microsoft and other providers, and a total cloud cost indicator aggregates all of the information to show the sum of what a company pays over time.

Getting a better handle on cloud costs can help companies to innovate within their enterprise IT system. Companies may deal with cloud thresholds, swap services to get lower subscription costs, or otherwise manage services. These types of tools also make it easier to scale up as the company considers where to source additional cloud or virtualization capacity for a growing business.

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Justin Stoltzfus
Contributor

Justin Stoltzfus is an independent blogger and business consultant assisting a range of businesses in developing media solutions for new campaigns and ongoing operations. He is a graduate of James Madison University.Stoltzfus spent several years as a staffer at the Intelligencer Journal in Lancaster, Penn., before the merger of the city’s two daily newspapers in 2007. He also reported for the twin weekly newspapers in the area, the Ephrata Review and the Lititz Record.More recently, he has cultivated connections with various companies as an independent consultant, writer and trainer, collecting bylines in print and Web publications, and establishing a reputation…