AWS Trusted Advisor vs Cost Explorer: 2 Powerful Tools For Cost Optimization


Last updated 22 Apr, 2024

9 mins read

AWS Trusted Advisor vs Cost Explorer
AWS Trusted Advisor vs Cost Explorer

When it comes to optimizing your AWS costs, looking at AWS trusted advisor vs cost explorer is necessary. According to Gartner, global demand for public cloud computing services is set to grow 20.4%, from $563.6 billion in 2023 to $678.8 billion in 2024.  This rise in cloud spending also brings a significant challenge: cloud waste. A staggering 94% of companies are overspending on their cloud services. As cloud services (like Amazon Web Services (AWS)) become more complex, the need for robust cloud cost management tools is more pressing than ever.

AWS cloud native tools like AWS Trusted Advisor and AWS Cost Explorer help businesses control their AWS costs more effectively. AWS Trusted Advisor offers recommendations on how to improve security, performance, and costs in your AWS architecture. AWS Cost Explorer provides detailed reports on your past and current cloud cost, enabling you to understand your spend granularly. 

This blog post guides you through a detailed analysis of AWS Trusted Advisor vs AWS Cost Explorer to help you understand which tool is best for your needs.

If you want to experience CloudForecast’s white glove service and have the AWS cost optimization process set up without the stress, then check out the ZeroWaste feature demo. See how our cost optimization report provides a clear and detailed approach to empowering engineering teams with the visibility they need to optimize AWS costs effectively.

The ZeroWaste feature is designed for straightforward AWS cost optimization, eliminating unnecessary complexity.
The ZeroWaste feature is designed for straightforward AWS cost optimization, eliminating unnecessary complexity.

What is AWS Trusted Advisor?

AWS Trusted Advisor is a native integral service that acts as your personalized cloud consultant and assesses your AWS environment against the AWS Well-Architected Framework (WAFR). It offers recommendations to optimize your resources against best practices in five categories: cost optimization, performance, security, fault tolerance, and service limits.

Source: AWS Trusted Advisor Documentation

How Does the AWS Trusted Advisor Work?

AWS Trusted Advisor analyzes your AWS environment by scanning your configurations and usage patterns, comparing them against established AWS best practices. For each pillar, it provides actionable recommendations with detailed steps on how to implement them to enhance your cloud infrastructure. Here are a few examples of the types of recommendations offered:

Source: AWS Trusted Advisor Update

  • Cost Optimization: Trusted Advisor identifies opportunities to reduce your AWS spend by highlighting idle and underutilized compute resources, suggesting more cost-effective resource allocations, and recommending commitment plans like Reserved Instances or Savings Plans for frequently used services, helping you benefit from discounted rates. By following these real-time recommendations, businesses can significantly reduce their cloud waste, ensuring they only pay for the resources they need and use.
  • Performance: This pillar focuses on ensuring your AWS services are running efficiently. Trusted Advisor recommendations may include optimizing database indexing, improving the efficiency of your Amazon EC2 compute instances, upgrading to better EBS volumes, or leveraging advanced networking features for better throughput.
  • Security: Security recommendations aim to fortify your cloud environment. This could involve tightening Amazon S3 bucket permissions, implementing MFA (Multi-Factor Authentication) for IAM users, or ensuring your security groups are configured to deny unauthorized access.
  • Fault Tolerance: To increase the reliability of your applications, Trusted Advisor suggests strategies such as setting up multi-AZ (Availability Zone) deployments for critical workloads, ensuring adequate backup and recovery mechanisms are in place, and optimizing Route 53 health checks.
  • Service Limits: This pillar helps you avoid service disruptions by alerting you when you’re approaching the limits of your AWS services. Trusted Advisor recommendations include requesting limit increases in advance or optimizing resource usage to stay within existing limits.

By providing tailored advice across these pillars, AWS Trusted Advisor helps you maintain a well-architected, secure, and efficient cloud environment.

Benefits of AWS Trusted Advisor

AWS Trusted Advisor offers numerous benefits designed to enhance and secure your AWS environment. Some of the primary ones include:

  • Alignment with AWS Best Practices: Trusted Advisor ensures your AWS environment adheres to the latest AWS best practices, helping you leverage AWS services to their fullest potential while maintaining an efficient, secure, and reliable infrastructure.
  • Prioritization of Important Recommendations: It highlights critical issues and prioritizes recommendations based on their impact, allowing you to focus on changes that offer the most significant benefits to your business priorities.
  • Streamlined Collaboration Across Your Organization: By providing a centralized dashboard of recommendations, Trusted Advisor facilitates collaboration among teams, ensuring that everyone is aware of and can act on key optimizations and security enhancements.
  • Customizable Action Plans: Tailor recommendations to fit your specific needs and goals, allowing for a more personalized approach to cloud optimization.
  • Automated Resource Optimization: Leverage Trusted Advisor’s automation features to apply best practice recommendations effortlessly, saving time and reducing the potential for human error.

AWS Trusted Advisor Pricing

AWS Trusted Advisor pricing is integrated into AWS support plans. The Basic plan offers limited checks with the free tier plan, focusing on security and service limits. For full access to all features, including cost optimization recommendations, the Business or Enterprise support plans are required. These plans are priced as a percentage of your monthly AWS spend, scaling with your usage. This structure ensures businesses can access Trusted Advisor’s comprehensive services in a way that aligns with their budget and AWS account usage. For more information, check AWS Trusted Advisor Pricing

What is AWS Cost Explorer?

AWS Cost Explorer is a powerful cloud cost optimization tool designed by Amazon Web Services to provide granular insights into your AWS spending and usage. It enables users to visualize, understand, and manage their AWS costs and usage over time. With an intuitive interface and customizable reporting capabilities, AWS Cost Explorer simplifies the process of AWS cost management and instance optimization, making it easier for businesses to forecast spending and identify savings opportunities. 

Image source: AWS Cost Explorer Documentation

How Does the AWS Cost Explorer Work?

AWS Cost Explorer leverages Cost and Usage Reports (AWS CUR) to aggregate your AWS billing data, presenting it in easy-to-read graphs and tables that break down your costs by service, account, and time period. Users can create custom reports to analyze their spending patterns, identify trends, and make informed decisions about their AWS usage. The tool also offers forecasting features, which project future costs based on historical data, and provides recommendations for cost-saving opportunities, such as identifying underutilized AWS resources that can be terminated or downsized.

Benefits of Using the AWS Cost Explorer For Cost Optimization

AWS Cost Explorer offers numerous benefits designed to optimize cloud spend effectively. Here’s how it facilitates cost optimization:

  • Enhanced Cost Visibility: AWS Cost Explorer provides a comprehensive view of your AWS spending, breaking it down by various metrics, offering unprecedented visibility into your cloud expenses, making it easier to identify areas ripe for cost optimization.

Image source: AWS Cost Explorer Documentation 

  • Custom Usage Reports: Tailor your analysis with custom usage reports based on criteria like time range, services, and compute regions. Coupled with time-based analysis and elastic tagging, this feature allows for a granular understanding of cloud resources, spending patterns, enabling precise cost management and optimization strategies.
  • Visualization and Graphs: The tool’s graphical representations of spending over time help you quickly grasp cost trends across different services and accounts. Visual analytics play a crucial role in identifying spending anomalies and opportunities for cost savings.
  • Forecasting for Budget Planning: Utilize AWS Cost Explorer’s forecasting capabilities to predict future spending based on historical usage data. This predictive insight is invaluable for budget planning, helping you allocate resources more efficiently and avoid unexpected costs.
  • Actionable Recommendations and Insights: Beyond mere visibility, AWS Cost Explorer offers actionable recommendations for reducing costs and improving efficiency. These insights are tailored to your usage patterns, providing targeted suggestions for cost-saving measures.
  • Cost Allocation and Tagging: This enables you to assign costs to specific projects, teams, or business units. This facilitates more accurate chargebacks and showbacks, enhancing accountability and financial governance.

For a more detailed overview of AWS Cost Explorer, check out our latest guide on: AWS Budgets vs Cost Explorer.

AWS Cost Explorer Pricing

You can view your costs and usage using the Cost Explorer user interface free of charge. You can also access your data programmatically using the Cost Explorer API. Each paginated API request incurs a charge of $0.01. Source: AWS Cost Explorer Pricing.

AWS Trusted Advisor vs Cost Explorer – Which One to Use?

Both platforms offer unique strengths and limitations. Ultimately, the choice between AWS Trusted Advisor and AWS Cost Explorer depends on your specific needs, expertise level, and how you prefer to engage with optimization metrics. Here are some factors that can help you decide what’s best for you:

  • You Need a Breakdown of Your Costs: If detailed insights into where exactly your money is going within AWS is your preference, choose Cost Explorer. It provides granular breakdowns and visualizations of your spending across services, accounts, and time periods.
  • You Need to Enhance Security: If improving the security posture of your AWS environment is a priority, choose Trusted Advisor. It offers recommendations to tighten security configurations and reduce potential vulnerabilities.
  • You Need Support for Budgeting: When it comes to setting and managing budgets, choose Cost Explorer. Its forecasting and budgeting features allow you to plan your spending more effectively and avoid surprises.
  • You Need to Improve Resilience: For advice on making your AWS infrastructure more robust and fault-tolerant, choose Trusted Advisor. It identifies areas where you can improve redundancy and failover capabilities.
  • You Need Detailed Cost Optimization Insights: While both tools offer AWS cost management features, choose Cost Explorer for more detailed cost optimization. It provides deeper insights and more comprehensive data analysis capabilities, making it easier to identify and act on cost-saving opportunities.

In conclusion, while AWS Trusted Advisor is your go-to platform for an enhanced and secured architecture, AWS Cost Explorer excels in providing detailed financial analysis and cost optimization recommendations. Ultimately, your choice should align with your primary business objectives. 

AWS Cost Optimization Best Practices for AWS Cost Explorer and Trusted Advisor

Maximizing the efficiency of your AWS spending requires a strategic approach; here are some best practices for leveraging AWS Cost Explorer and Trusted Advisor for optimal cost optimization:

How do I optimize costs using AWS Trusted Advisor?

Optimizing costs with AWS Trusted Advisor can be streamlined into concise, actionable strategies:

  • Stay aligned with AWS best practices by frequently implementing Trusted Advisor’s cost optimization suggestions for potential savings.
  • Eliminate wasteful spending by downsizing or terminating identified idle resources, directly impacting cost management.
  • Leverage Trusted Advisor’s analysis on usage patterns to purchase Reserved Instances, achieving savings over on-demand pricing.
  • Monitor service limits to avoid unexpected costs related to downtime or performance issues in customer-facing applications.
  • Set up alerts for immediate notification on savings opportunities or security recommendations, enhancing cost management efficiency.

How do I optimize costs using AWS Cost Explorer?

Optimizing costs with AWS Cost Explorer involves strategic use of its features to gain insights and act on cost-saving opportunities. Here are some best practices to follow:

  • Establish a routine for regularly reviewing AWS Cost Explorer reports to stay informed about your spending patterns and quickly identify any unexpected costs.
  • Use AWS Cost Explorer to set budget alerts for your projects or departments, helping you prevent overspending by getting notified when costs are projected to exceed your budget.
  • Properly tag your resources to categorize spending accurately. This practice allows for more detailed analysis in Cost Explorer, enabling you to make informed decisions about where to cut costs.
  • Share Cost Explorer reports and insights with relevant stakeholders across your organization. Collaboration ensures that cost optimization efforts are aligned with business objectives and that all departments contribute to efficient cloud spending.
  • Ensure that your team understands how to use AWS Cost Explorer and its benefits. Training sessions or workshops can empower them to actively participate in cost optimization efforts.

How Do I Optimize AWS Costs with CloudForecast?

CloudForecast’s ZeroWaste cost optimization report provides a clear and detailed approach to identifying underutilized resources, empowering engineering teams with the visibility they need to optimize AWS costs effectively. Check out the ZeroWaste feature demo to see how it could look for you.

This tool streamlines decision-making and facilitates seamless sharing of insights across technical teams. Key areas of focus for identifying potential waste include:

  • EBS Volumes: Old Snapshots and unused/unattached Snapshots
  • EC2 Instances: Over-provisioned instances and old generations
  • ALB/ELB: Unused load balancers
  • RDS Instances: Unused instances and over-provisioned RDS instances
  • RDS Storage: RDS instances using gp2 that could be migrated to gp3
  • S3 Buckets: Buckets with no lifecycle policy
  • EBS Volumes: EBS Volumes that can be moved from gp2 to gp3
  • Redshift Clusters: Underutilized Redshift Instances
  • CloudWatch Logs: No expiration date set
  • Lambda Functions: Over-provisioned Lambda functions for memory size

In addition to the policies outlined above, CloudForecast integrates all recommendations from AWS Trusted Advisor. This provides a unified view of potential cost optimization opportunities, enabling your team to monitor them more effectively.

Like our daily cost reports, CloudForecast allows you to apply filters for sub-accounts, tags, or AWS cost categories. This ensures that each engineering team receives detailed reports via email on the specific AWS resources they are using. Such granularity enhances cost governance and helps teams manage their cloud expenses more efficiently.

Want to learn more? Read more about it here: ZeroWaste 2.0: Optimize and Uncover Hidden AWS Costs 

ZeroWaste Overview Report View
ZeroWaste Overview Report View

Final Thoughts

In conclusion, the choice between AWS Trusted Advisor and AWS Cost Explorer isn’t about which tool is superior, but rather which tool best aligns with your business objectives. Each offers unique capabilities designed to enhance your cloud cost management strategy in different ways. While Trusted Advisor provides actionable insights to improve efficiency and security, Cost Explorer delves deep into cost analysis and forecasting. Ultimately, leveraging both tools in collaboration can offer the most comprehensive approach to cost optimization. Remember, the key to effective cloud cost management lies in understanding your organizational needs and utilizing the right tools to meet those needs efficiently.

Muskan is a freelance technical writer, who specializes in creating content focused on cloud computing and AWS concepts. Leveraging her expertise, she assists organizations in developing informative and SEO-optimized content to generate leads.

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