Cloud Cost as Just Another Metric

– “the old ways of managing infrastructure aren’t just ineffective in cloud; they’re irrelevant.” (Stormant and Fuller, 3).

Think back to a time when provisioning a server meant waiting days, weeks, or even months for hardware to arrive, networking to be configured and base-level software to be installed. Nowadays, an engineer can whip up an image and plop it onto a Kubernetes cluster on the same day that they write their application code. This game-changing level of velocity is what gives Cloud such an advantage over “traditional” infrastructure. However, with this velocity comes a new challenge: managing a turbulent sea of varying and disparate cloud costs. If an engineer fresh off a coffee-fueled code-writing bender can self-provision compute that can cost anywhere from ten cents a day to over thirteen-hundred dollars for a Cloud Service Provider’s server instance, how is a finance department supposed to even come close to predicting costs or generating a budget?

The answer:

…a new breed of Cloud Cost Management tooling and a change in perspective for developers and engineers. Here at SPS our Cloud Operations team has recently introduced a new Cloud Cost Management tool to all individuals in Tech and Finance! With our new tool, engineers and developers gain access to a suite of tools that enable visibility into the costs they directly influence. Managers, product owners, or anyone else who cares can easily track the costs of their products and services in real time. Inefficiencies will be revealed, anomalies can be detected, and delivery teams will fearlessly advance without worrying that runaway costs could cripple them or the business as a whole.

Our internal Cloud Cost Management tool provides a level of visibility that enables us to push the responsibility of costs to the very edge where they are originally incurred. Just as we monitor CPU, Memory, or any other vital metric, we can now monitor costs in exactly the same way. This shifts the burden of Cloud Costs from the Excel spreadsheets of the finance department and into the hands of the code-first engineers who better understand them.

Essential to the success of this realignment is the adoption of these principals by all tech individuals. Thankfully, keeping finances under control is a ubiquitous concept within any business unit. The difficulty here comes from convincing individuals to take responsibility for a resource once managed by a completely different department. The avenue to a successful campaign will vary from company to company, and team to team. Maybe you go the route of gamifying the transition by creating a scorecard that rewards cost-efficient teams while quietly supporting the most egregious offenders. Or, maybe you publicly shame them in the all-tech Chat Room. Of course, you could have an imposing front of C-Level execs reigning down judgment from the top floor, but who wants that? In the end, this is a battle best fought by the everyday engineer with the newfound cognition that cost is just another metric.

Will Berard, Cloud Operations Engineer

SPS Technology @spstech