Answer

What are the limits of cloud cost analysis tools?

Cloud cost analysis tools, such as Cloudyn and Cloudability, can provide valuable insight into how you use cloud resources and help you control the costs of those resources. However, as with any tool, there are limitations.

The quality of recommendations made by these tools is strongly influenced by the data they analyze. Cost analysis tools might collect data on the number of servers running at any given time, the CPU utilization, memory usage and other operational metrics. The greater the variation in your usage patterns, the more data is required to determine an optimal configuration.

To get fine-grained management reporting, be sure to record ample metadata about compute instances and storage objects. Reporting tools can use this metadata to group and organize cost and utilization information. This is especially helpful when multiple projects or departments charge to the same account.

Keep in mind that you will be granting read access to a third party on your cloud resources. If you are concerned about compliance implications, especially with privacy regulations, consult with an auditor or other professional who can assess any risks relative to regulations.

To maximize the value of cost analysis tools, implement policies and procedures to ensure the information collected and recommendations made are reviewed and acted on when appropriate. Do not waste your investment in cloud analysis tools by failing to follow through on money-saving recommendations.

About the author

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Dan Sullivan, M.Sc., is an author, systems architect and consultant with more than 20 years of IT experience. He has had engagements in advanced analytics, systems architecture, database design, enterprise security and business intelligence. He has worked in a broad range of industries, including financial services, manufacturing, pharmaceuticals, software development, government, retail and education. Dan has written extensively about topics that range from data warehousing, cloud computing and advanced analytics to security management, collaboration and text mining.

This was first published in April 2013

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