Cloud Cost Management:
Challenges, Strategies,
Tools and Tips

Angelika Agapow
Angelika Agapow
Content Marketing Specialist
April 07
16 min

What is Cloud Cost Management?

Cloud Cost Management is a strategic approach to understanding, managing, and optimizing the costs associated with cloud computing. It involves assessing an organization’s needs, designing a plan to maximize usage and efficiency, and continuously monitoring and optimizing usage and billing.

Cloud vendors offer several pricing models and cost management tools that can help organizations reduce costs by forecasting expenses more accurately or controlling overspending.

Additionally, third-party tools can help optimize costs by identifying idle resources or unused services. With the ever-changing landscape of available cloud computing options, Cloud Cost Management provides an invaluable solution for organizations to optimize their cloud investment.


The purpose of Cloud Cost Management

The purpose of Cloud Cost Management is to help businesses identify and manage their cloud service costs in order to maximize their resources and minimize waste. Good cloud cost management principles provide the ability to plan and forecast both costs and resource needs. By making cloud cost management a priority, companies can better ensure that they have the cloud resources they need to stay competitive in today’s market.

By implementing a comprehensive cloud cost management strategy, companies can ensure that they are using the right services for their specific needs while also staying within budget. This requires organizations to analyze their current usage of services to understand how and why those costs are being incurred. From there, companies should look for ways to optimize their usage by taking advantage of discounts or other opportunities offered by public cloud providers, such as reserved instances or spot pricing.

What is more, organizations should establish policies for managing resource usage and deploy automated tools for enforcing those policies. By leveraging these best practices, businesses can improve performance and keep costs under control over time.

In addition to controlling costs, effective cloud cost management also helps organizations with performance optimization and governance across multiple clouds. For example, good visibility into usage patterns allows companies to measure utilization rates across different clouds in order to identify where capacity is being underutilized or over-allocated. This allows them to re-optimize workloads across their environment in order to determine the most effective and efficient placement for each application or service.


Cloud Cost Management challenges

Cloud Cost Management (CCM) is a challenging problem for many organizations due to its complexity and the need for multi-disciplinary expertise for successful implementation. The most common challenges associated with CCM are lack of visibility into cloud spending, inaccurate budget forecasts, poor cloud architecting, complex billing, conflicting cloud savings strategies across teams, over-provisioning, and fewer options for optimization.


#1 Lack of visibility into cloud spending: Without accurate visibility into cloud costs, it can be difficult to identify areas with potential cost savings or detect anomalies that may be signifying mismanagement.

Possible solution: Organizations should leverage cost analytics tools to monitor their consumption of resources in the cloud in order to gain insights into their current spending as well as potential areas of improvement or optimization.

#2 Inaccurate budget forecasts: Having an accurate view of future costs is essential for proper CCM planning and forecasting. However, forecasts can often be difficult to create without the right data sources and insights.

Possible solution: Organizations should take advantage of predictive analytics tools that can provide more precise estimations on expected spend given various scenarios such as usage growth or new services being brought online.


#3 Complex billing: Understanding what each service is costing an organization requires understanding how cloud vendors bill customers. Every provider charges differently based on the type of resources used (e.g., per hour/month versus metered usage). Furthermore, many providers have additional fees such as late payment charges or support fees which can quickly add up if not monitored properly.

Possible solution: Organizations should familiarize themselves with their providers’ billing processes in order to mitigate unexpected charges or identify any discrepancies that could arise from errors or misconfigurations in their account settings/resources deployed.


#4 The bottom line: The success of a CCM strategy ultimately comes down to effective cost management practices that allow organizations to save money while still meeting business objectives such as performance requirements or customer SLAs (Service Level Agreements).

Possible solution: Developing a good understanding of both the services being used by an organization as well as how they are billed by providers is critical for designing effective CCM strategies that reduce waste and optimize cloud infrastructure resources efficiently in order to maximize Return On Investment (ROI).


#5 Conflicting cloud-savings strategies across teams: Different teams within larger organizations often have varying objectives when it comes to optimizing their respective budgets which can lead to conflicts between departments when negotiating cost-cutting measures such as downsizing certain services or transitioning workloads from one provider to another.

Possible solution: Organizations should establish clear goals and priorities when it comes to developing a unified CCM strategy across all teams so that everyone is working towards the same goal rather than competing against each other which would result in wasted time and effort while also reducing overall ROI potential from successful implementations.


#6 Over-provisioning: Over-provisioning is one of the primary causes behind high monthly bills resulting from incorrect resource planning prior deploying applications onto a cloud platform. It is important for engineers/architects who design solutions on the cloud platform to pay attention during the capacity planning phase so they don’t end up ordering unnecessary resources which will then remain unused but still incur charges until they are removed from service via the de-provisioning process.

Possible solution: Careful monitoring during the early stages of application deployment will help keep total resource costs at minimum levels by only utilizing required capacities instead of provisioning large amounts upfront which could eventually get wasted due to changing business needs or unexpected shifts in user traffic patterns over time.


#7 Not many cloud optimization options: As new services come online within a public cloud environment, there are not many options available for optimizing existing infrastructures since available choices become limited due to vendor lock-in. These forces organizations into using products from a single vendor instead of relying on multiple, thus making it harder to attain the greatest value possible while managing total IT expenses.

Possible solution: To mitigate this issue, companies must invest some effort towards researching best industry practices, learning different architectures designs, developing strong partnerships with multiple providers, etc., so they can have a greater number of options when selecting the right solution that fits their specific needs without sacrificing features flexibility scalability offered by those technologies.


Cloud Cost Management Strategies

In today’s world, businesses are looking for effective ways to manage their cloud costs. Luckily, there are several strategies out there that can be helpful in achieving this. From power scheduling to implementing automation – there are a variety of techniques that can keep companies’ bottom lines in place. So whether you’re a startup or an established enterprise, it’s important to have a look at this:


#1 Right-sizing: As your organization considers utilizing public cloud services, it’s important to carefully select the ideal cloud instances for your specific needs. Finding the perfect fit will ensure that you are making the most of these services and maximizing their potential benefits. Take the time to evaluate all available options and consider the unique needs of your organization to ensure a successful cloud deployment.


#2 Automatic scaling: Organizations can operate with flexibility and cost-effectiveness. Instead of worrying about constant maximum utilization, resources can be scaled-up when necessary and scaled-down during periods of low demand. This smart approach can help businesses stay agile and efficient.


#3 Power scheduling: Why keep your non-essential instances running 24/7 when you can schedule them to shut down overnight and on weekends? This approach is not only cost-effective but also allows for smarter use of resources.


#4 Removing unused instances: Keeping unused instances can cost you unnecessary expenses and put your security at risk. It’s best to remove them, not only to save money but also to eliminate any potential vulnerabilities.


#5 Discount instances: For those looking for any savings, discount instances can be a game changer. However, it’s important to keep in mind that they aren’t always available for constant use. If you’re willing to only use them occasionally, the savings can be substantial. It’s all about striking the right balance between cost and workload requirements.


Cloud Cost Management benefits

The beauty of cloud management goes beyond just controlling costs. Predictive management and streamlined architecture changes are just a few of the many benefits it offers. What are the benefits then?


Cost savings: When it comes to managing costs in the cloud, being proactive is the key. And not just because it can help prevent overspending and underutilization of resources (although that’s a big part of it). Taking a strategic approach to cloud cost planning can also mean unlocking discounts and other cost-saving opportunities that might otherwise go unnoticed. So, whether you’re a startup or a large enterprise, investing time and resources into effective cloud cost management is worthy.

Predictability: By accurately predicting cloud computing demands, businesses can stay ahead of unexpected expenses and even take advantage of early bird discounts for anticipated usage. With proper forecasting, companies can avoid being caught off guard by sudden cost jumps and plan for the company’s cloud computing needs.

Efficient Usage: With tools like autoscaling, load balancing, and capacity reserving, businesses can stay afloat while enjoying volume discounts and savings programs. By examining spending patterns and optimizing resource allocation, enterprises can stretch their budgets further and avoid wasteful expenses. Taking control of cloud spend management is a skill that every organization needs to master to stay in the competitive landscape of the digital age.

Better performance: Selecting the perfect cloud instances for your company is a crucial strategy for optimizing performance and cost management in the cloud. Achieving the perfect balance between overprovisioning and underprovisioning can unlock the cloud’s full potential and empower your business with unmatched flexibility, scalability, and reliability.

Visibility: Full visibility into your organization’s cloud usage and architecture is vital not only for managing costs but also ensuring governance and security. Without proper insights, cloud management can be a daunting task. However, obtaining such visibility can also help streamline other important business needs. Get the complete picture to optimize your cloud strategy and strengthen your business.


Azure, AWS, and Google Cloud Cost Management tools

Cost optimization in the cloud is a crucial part of any business strategy. With so many cloud cost optimization tools out there, it can be overwhelming to choose the one that fits your needs. Let’s see 3 big cloud platforms and the tools available for your business.

Read about migrating to the cloud and what benefits you can get thanks to it!

Azure cost management tools

Microsoft Azure offers powerful cost management tools built right into the cloud platform. With these tools, you can track, analyze, and optimize your cloud costs with ease. You’ll have access to cost analysis, forecasting, monitoring, and the ability to export data for further analysis. What’s more, Azure’s cost optimization suggestions are based on industry benchmarks to help you save even more. Plus, if you’re using both Azure and AWS, you can manage your billing information in one place.


Azure Price Calculator

Gain control and insight into your Azure service costs with this intuitive calculator. The tool is designed to estimate costs based on your specific settings, providing a detailed breakdown of each service’s expenses. By planning your costs upfront, you can better manage your budget and stay ahead of the game.


Azure Cost Analysis

The Azure Cost Analysis tool offers a comprehensive breakdown of cost details that provides essential insights through various groups and filters. This tool allows customers to evaluate the cost of each service and compare it against the estimated cost to avoid unexpected expenses. The Cost Analysis dashboard is designed to support multiple filters such as time, scope, granularity, and groups. The results can be downloaded in Excel or CSV formats, and customers can schedule regular exports.


Azure Cost Alerts

Budget alerts: Empower your customers with budget alerts that keep their finances in check. With Azure portal and consumption APIs, customers can easily set budgets and receive automatic alerts when costs approach or exceed their specified amounts. No more surprises or overspending – it’s time to take control of your finances with the help of Azure.

Credit alerts: The credit alert feature will give customers a heads up when they’re approaching the end of the line with their credit balance. And not just any alert – a friendly one that smoothly reminds them to consider their spending. It’s a simple way to keep their finances on track and prevent any unpleasant surprises.

Read our article about how to get the best out of Azure cloud and its benefits.

AWS cost management tools

Explore powerful solutions for controlling expenses and optimizing spending within your AWS infrastructure. With cutting-edge cost management tools, you can analyze usage patterns, forecast future expenses, and easily identify areas where you can save money without sacrificing performance or reliability.


AWS Cost Explorer

Cost Explorer revolutionizes AWS cost management by providing a seamless and intuitive platform for customers to view, analyze, and take control of their usage and expenses. Its default reports offer valuable insights and act as a launchpad for in-depth cost analysis.


AWS Cost Categories

The Cost Categories feature allows users to seamlessly organize usage and cost data into unique and meaningful groups based on specific requirements. It even provides customizable categories that automatically generate cost-related insights, created through pre-established criteria like account ownership, service utilization, tagging, and type of expense.


AWS Budgets

Take control of your expenses with the Budgets feature – a powerful tool that helps you keep track of your spending across different use cases. With the ability to set custom budget thresholds, you’ll receive timely notifications via SNS (Social Networking Service) or email if your costs approach or exceed the specified limits.


AWS Cost and Usage Reports (CURs)

A Comprehensive Usage Report (CUR) is the key to unlock insightful AWS usage analysis and cost management. Along with the granular details of product usage, operation, and usage type, CURs provide added metadata on various cost-saving avenues such as reserved instances, saving plans, discounts, and credits. It’s an ideal tool to maintain cost transparency and stay on top of your AWS budget. What is more, with flexible granularity options, you can have CURs at the member or management account level – daily, weekly, or monthly.


Google cost management tools

Google Cloud Platform (GCP) provides you with powerful cost management tools that can help you gain great insights into your cloud spending. From budget alerts to detailed reports – Google’s cost management tools make it easy to monitor your cloud costs and optimize your spending. So, whether you’re a small startup or a large enterprise; GCP’s cost management tools can help you streamline your cloud operations and save money in the long run.


GCP Pricing Calculator

Streamlined and easy to use, the GCP pricing calculator empowers customers to make informed, data-driven decisions about cloud services. With customizable options for specifications, instance numbers, and monthly running time, this tool delivers detailed cost estimates based on your unique needs. And it doesn’t stop there – the calculator can also provide accurate cost comparisons with other cloud service providers to help you make the best choice for your business.


GCP Resource Hierarchy

With GCP, customers have the power to create a detailed and effective resource hierarchy that grants access permissions and manages cloud service costs. This is possible through customizable policies that include quotas and cost parameters, which can be applied to multiple levels of the hierarchy. These policies are automatically enforced for all nodes, making cloud management a streamlined and efficient process.


Google Cloud Identity and Access Management

Easily manage your expenses with Google Cloud Identity and Access Management (IAM) – the solution that puts you in control. IAM lets you assign access roles across your entire resource hierarchy so that you can manage costs wherever they occur. And with Google’s support for a range of billing access roles, including creator, administrator, user, viewer, and project billing manager, you can be confident that you have all the tools you need to maintain financial visibility and accountability.


GCP Quotas

GCP project owners have the power to set boundaries on their project’s resource consumption. These boundaries, known as allocation quotas, establish the maximum number of instances that can be active at any given time within the project. Similarly, rate quotas impose limitations on the number of read and write operations that can be executed per day, preventing any excessive resource usage. Rate quotas reset after their set time.


Tips for implementing an effective Cloud Cost Management strategy:


  • Automate processes wherever possible.
  • Utilize cost monitoring software to proactively identify and address issues in real-time.
  • Leverage existing tools and technologies to gain better insights into costs and trends across different cloud resources.
  • Establish pre-set budgets and alert thresholds when going over budget or beyond certain resource utilization limits.
  • Regularly review spending trends to highlight opportunities for optimization and scale services accordingly.
  • Optimize application performance by taking advantage of multi-cloud offerings, such as utilizing specific vendor toolsets when associated benefits are identified through analysis of cost drivers and usage patterns.


What are the recommended market standards for cloud cost optimization changes and expenditure savings?

  • Utilize automation to reduce manual efforts associated with cloud cost decision-making and management, such as automating resource provisioning, scaling, or other processes related to the management of cloud services.
  • Analyze performance metrics like CPU, memory, storage, and network usage in order to identify areas for optimization and adjust accordingly. This includes right-sizing underutilized resources while scaling down overprovisioned resources to maximize efficiency while minimizing expenses.
  • Leverage industry best practices such as consolidation, right-sizing, and resource scheduling to increase efficiency while reducing cost per unit of service consumed.
  • Consider additional technologies such as on-demand instances or reserved capacity to take advantage of lower costs on a long-term basis, or spot pricing when available for even greater savings.
  • Monitor spending trends in order to anticipate and proactively address future requirements where appropriate.
  • Take advantage of multi-cloud strategies for increased optimization capabilities when needed, including vendor toolsets that provide benefits and insights into specific areas of cost control within the cloud environment.

By implementing these changes correctly, organizations can significantly reduce their expenditure on cloud services while achieving an optimal balance between their need for efficiency and flexibility when using cloud technologies.


Stay competitive and successful with the cloud!

Managing cloud costs can be a challenging task that’s easier said than done. Especially with decision-making being decentralized in large companies, visibility into expenses can be challenging. By implementing a cloud cost management strategy, businesses can gain better visibility into cloud usage and plan for future costs. By gaining a better understanding of costs and usage, companies can improve accountability and enhance the performance and efficiency of their cloud technology. Now more than ever, businesses need to prioritize their cloud costs to remain competitive and successful in an ever-changing landscape – and with the right tools and knowledge, doing so has never been simpler. If you’re looking for consulting related to cloud cost management, see our services for IaaS, PaaS & SaaS consulting or DevOps and Enterprise DevOps.

Angelika Agapow
Angelika Agapow
Content Marketing Specialist
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