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Summary:

AWS customers love the sheer variety of services available to them; they’re not wild about how hard it is to assess what they’re paying. Amazon says Cost Explorer is here to help.

AWS Summit
photo: Barb Darrow

One of the issues Amazon Web Services customers cite is how difficult it can be to track and project their cloud costs over time — there’s just so much stuff up there!

Well, Amazon apparently has been paying attention — it just announced Cost Explorer, a tool that shows a customer’s cloud spending for the current month and “automatically pre-populates your last 4 months of AWS spend so you can visualize your AWS costs, and start analyzing trends and spending patterns,” according to an AWS blog post.

One AWS partner said this is a tool AWS needs to offer.

“Cost management continues to be one of the top pain points we hear from the AWS customers we speak to. Given billing is so core to the service AWS provides, I’ve been surprised AWS hasn’t been more aggressive here,” Izzy Azeri, co-founder of Stackdriver said via email. “Based on the description to do granular filtering and event based cost analysis, I think this can be very compelling to customers. My guess is this is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of spend management and optimization tools for AWS.”

Cost Explorer comes with some pre-set views — monthly spend broken out by service, monthly spend by linked account and daily spend. One AWS watcher said it was unclear how Cost Explorer differs from Amazon’s existing CloudWatch service, although the latter appears to track usage of various AWS resources but not the associated costs. Update: Indeed, CloudWatch collects EC2 resource performance metrics for developers and IT people while Cost Explorer reports back on costs and can offer predictions on fugure ost. oudWatch collects EC2 resource performance metrics, useful for developers and operations folks. Customers can use it to monitor what their using and to set alarms based on standard or custom metrics for their applications while Cost Explorer reports on costs or can predict costs, and is useful for operations or finance professionals.

A cottage industry has grown up around helping AWS customers assess, map out and cut their AWS costs — third parties like Cloudability and Cloudyn play here — but Amazon keeps adding more user-friendly dashboards, including Trusted Advisor, which helps customers optimize their use of AWS services.

amazon cost explorer

This story was updated at 2:15 p.m. with more detail on how Cost Explorer differs from CloudWatch.

  1. Sharon Wagner Wednesday, April 9, 2014

    It is great to see AWS listening to their clients and developing various solutions to assist with costs, performance, utilization and the sort. Still, with third party solutions such as Cloudyn, the focus is on optimization, and thus will always be more comprehensive in terms of functionality. Important features that cannot be overlooked include: analytics, alerting, cloud comparison and porting recommendations, workload and business allocation (see our Enterprise Chargeback solution) as well as not shying away from the importance of the Hybrid cloud (OpenStack) availability.

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  2. As the cloud vendors add more and more cost analytics, the only reason to use a 3rd party tool is if you deploy across multiple clouds. The vendors have access to the real time data, and can choose not to expose some of it via their APIs or downloads which gives them the edge over any 3rd party service.

    Why would you pay for an extra service when you can get it free from the vendor, get advice from their tools (Trusted Advisor) or use a free, open source deeper analytics tool like the ones Netflix released?

    Amazon is definitely ahead here but I wouldn’t want to be a 3rd party analytics company trying to stay ahead of the likes of AWS and Google. And that’s why we’ve seen these cost companies appear and disappear over the last few years.

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    1. It’s true, cost management and comparison across multiple clouds will only be available through 3rd party solutions. Yet even with a single provider they do hold significant advantage over provider native/opensource tools.

      Your provider can never really be your “Trusted Advisor”. Do you really trust your provider to help you optimize and lower your cloud spending bills? As the price war continues, the providers compete through price lists that aim to attract users to their own cloud platform. Once the users are in, like any business, Amazon wants their customers to buy more and spend more so they can increase revenues.

      Netflix indeed open-sourced some great tools. But these have to be installed, configured, managed and require additional infrastructure and resources. They may eventually save you some money, but pure SaaS 3rd party solutions like Cloudyn’s will get you there much faster and with minimum effort…

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  3. Gurmeet Singh (GS) Monday, April 14, 2014

    AWS has always been a company obsessed with their customers, which they inherited from the parent company Amazon. This kind of requests has always been their but as Sharon Wagner highlighted in his comment, many customers need more than just the cost analysis, they need analytics about various different things. And that’s were our commitment lies at Cloudlytics, we help customers Drive Business Decisions with insights into Customer Engagement Patterns. We provide a variety of reports to Amazon CloudFront and S3 users.

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