The Opportunity Cost of AWS Cost Monitoring
It’s the beginning of the month and you’ve been slapped with an AWS invoice that is making you scream “AAAAAAA!”. Congrats!
The finance team is messaging you via Slack with the 60-page AWS invoice and asking you to help them understand it.
The leaders of your organization are asking you to build a shareable monthly report in excel to summarize what’s going on.
All the while, you’re trying to find out who in your engineering organization decided to leverage the largest EC2 instance humanly possible to run a simple query.
In this blog post, you’ll learn about the Opportunity Cost that comes with AWS Cost Monitoring and why a tool like CloudForecast can be an easy positive ROI win.
AWS Cost Monitoring Tasks and Reports
Here at CloudForecast, we find that many of our customers come to us with the exact scenario described above. They spend a lot of their time monitoring and managing their AWS costs within their organization and creating reports manually. Namely, they spend the most time on these areas:
- Daily cost monitoring – Daily check and monitoring of AWS cost.
- Cost anomaly investigation – If there is anomalous spending, investigative work is required to figure out the Why, Who, What, and Where.
- Monthly chargeback report and budgets by teams, projects and environments – At larger organizations, AWS budgets can be allocated by teams, projects, or environments that need to be monitored, maintained, and reported on monthly.
- Monthly budgeting and reporting – Monthly meetings to go over aggregate monthly costs and trends with c-level executives, the finance team, and technical leaders.
- Tagging compliance – Ensuring existing and new resources are being tagged properly.
Typically, we find that the technical lead within an organization has all these responsibilities rolled up to them, on top of the existing obligations that they already have. The larger the organization, the more people and teams are involved, and the greater the opportunity cost to execute these tasks. Unless you have a dedicated FinOps or Cloud Financial Management role, somebody in the organization has to take on these responsibilities.
Example scenario: Daily cost monitoring and management might be spread across multiple team leads or projects and it’s up to individuals to keep track of their own AWS costs.
Many of these tasks and efforts can be done via the AWS billing console for free. However, you’ll have to work extensively to set up and execute most of these tasks through the AWS console.
Opportunity Cost Calculation with Summit
A fellow TinySeed company, Summit, powers engaging calculators and apps for sales, marketing, and product teams to deploy and use anywhere.
Here at CloudForecast, we’ve used Summit to build calculators internally to help us forecast, budget, and plan for the year as a (mostly) bootstrapped startup. We think there could be some interesting use cases with Summit for the AWS ecosystem considering the pricing complexities and variables.
With that said, our friends at Summit created a Cost Monitoring ROI calculator to help visualize and calculate the opportunity costs for a tech lead to execute the tasks mentioned above:
Play with the full version of this Summit Calculator here. Adjust the variables for your own use case!
DIY Solution ROI
The calculator above is using a median salary of $185,642 for an Engineering Director in the United States (according to salary.com).
To do these tasks, it would take about thirteen hours per month for the Engineering Director of a large complex organization to execute these cost-monitoring tasks. That’s thirteen hours a month that this technical lead could be spending somewhere else. Over a year, that would cost an organization fourteen thousand dollars and about ~156 hours of their time (probably cost them their sanity too).
Furthermore, the effort and costs are multiplied if there are other team members involved or if anomalous spending isn’t caught in a timely fashion. The larger and more complex an organization is, the more the costs and efforts are amplified, and the higher likelihood of costly mistakes and overspending increases.
Free AWS Cost Monitoring Features
Here are the key features you’ll need to leverage and set up in the AWS Billing Dashboard to help you with the AWS Cost Monitoring tasks mentioned above.
These features are all rolled up into what AWS calls “Cloud Financial Management”:
- AWS Cost Explorer – For daily cost monitoring and monthly budgeting and reporting
- AWS Cost Anomaly Detection – To help with cost anomaly detection
- Cost Categories & AWS Budgets and Budgets Report – To help with chargeback reports
- AWS Cost and Usage Reports – More advanced reporting through the cost file of AWS
- AWS Cloud Intelligence Dashboards – Advanced AWS cost dashboards
ROI with CloudForecast
Leveraging a tool like CloudForecast to help automate these cost monitoring and report management tasks would only cost $3,588 for the year ($299/month growth plan), resulting in a 3x ROI (comparing to $14k). And that’s not including all the time saved (and also sanity saved) since we’ve designed all our features and reports to be easy to use, easy to understand, and shareable. Even so, all it takes is a $299 overspend on a service for CloudForecast to pay for itself.
CloudForecast for AWS Cost Monitoring
Here are the features you’ll need to leverage and set up in CloudForecast to help with AWS Cost Monitoring tasks mentioned above:
- Daily AWS Cost Monitoring Reports – This easy-to-understand daily report — sent via Email, Slack, or Teams — summarizes overall costs and alerts you of any cost anomalies or possible overspends.
- Custom Cost Reports – This tool delivers the exact AWS cost and budget to teams or departments directly so they can monitor and manage their costs.
- Why? Drill-downs – Our “Why?” drill-down table will save you time and investigative work by weeding out all the noise and highlighting every anomalous AWS service, resource, and tagKey.
- Monthly AWS Financial Report aka CFO report– Send a monthly cost report especially designed for finance & management teams. Our monthly Excel report gives a high-level monthly financial overview of your AWS cost that financial stakeholders can understand and relate to.
- AWS Tagging Compliance Report – CloudForecast’s AWS Tagging Compliance Report gives you a full view of your current tagging landscape based on your tagging strategy and helps you quickly find untagged AWS resources.
Play with a live interactive demo of our AWS Cost Monitoring Report and our “Why?” drill-down.
Overall, AWS Cost Explorer is a great free option to help you manage your AWS costs within your organization. However, if you have more complex reporting needs within your organization that need to be shareable, or you need something that works right out of the box, an AWS Cost Monitoring tool like CloudForecast can help you save time, money, and a bit of your sanity. CloudForecast’s month-to-month payments and flat pricing mean that it easily pays for itself over the course of the year.
Try any plan free for 30 days with CloudForecast or stay Free Forever with our Free Community Plan. No Credit Card is required to get started!
Tony is a co-founder of CloudForecast and runs all the business operations: customer success, support, marketing and sales.
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