Q

Would third-party cloud cost analysis tools benefit my company?

Proprietary cloud cost analysis tools, such as Amazon CloudWatch, can help some companies, but sometimes a third party is needed.

Cloud vendors such as Amazon Web Services (AWS) and third-party vendors such as Cloudyn promise the ability to identify ways to save money on my cloud bills. Do I need to supplement my cloud provider's tools with a third-party product?

Optimizing your use of cloud resources gets more challenging as you increase the quantity and variety of services used. Amazon CloudWatch monitors your compute, storage and other service usage, and reports on preselected metrics. It also supports alerts to notify you when one of the metrics crosses a threshold you define. The Estimated Charges function in Amazon CloudWatch is especially helpful for projecting your monthly costs.

Amazon's monitoring features are sufficient for short-term management tasks, but third-party services such as Cloudyn and Cloudability provide more in-depth analysis and recommendations. Cloudyn, for example, has a reserved instance tool that makes recommendations for RI use and allows for what-if scenario analysis. Cloudability offers consolidated analytics and multicloud cost reporting.

Third-party cloud cost analysis tools can do a better job of identifying inefficiencies in your cloud usage. If you experience low CPU utilization, storing too many versions of Amazon Simple Storage Service objects, or over-provisioning reserved instances, then third-party tools can help you identify and optimize those services. If you have well defined, stable use cases and you have already optimized your architecture, then using Amazon CloudWatch free monitoring may be sufficient for your needs.

About the author
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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