By Barry Levine / Mobile Tech Today. Updated April 09, 2014.
It can be hard to track a cloud. To help, Amazon Web Services has introduced a free tool for managing spending on its cloud.
In a post Tuesday on the AWS Blog, the company noted that Cost Explorer is integrated with the Billing Console launched last November. AWS previously had a Simple Monthly Calculator.
Parmita Mehta, technical program manager at AWS, wrote that there were several things the first release focused on. One is simplicity, so that sign-up can be accomplished with a single click, and the tool runs in the browser. Additionally, Cost Explorer "shows you your current month's spend and automatically pre-populates your last 4 months of AWS spend so you can visualize your AWS costs, and start analyzing trends and spending patterns," she said.
Monthly Spend by Service
Several pre-configured views are offered in the initial release, with more to be added at some point.
A Monthly Spend by Service shows how costs are being spent over the last three months, and presents opportunities for changing usage patterns or using service-specific pricing options, such as EC2 Reserved or Spot Instances, to save money. A Money Spend by Linked Account tracks spending according to Linked Accounts. And a Daily Spend shows ongoing costs.
In addition to pre-configured views, users can define custom filters based on time period, accounts, service and tags. Tag-based filers enable such views as the total cost of an application, cost center, or functional group without regard to the computing or storage resource.
AWS also has a separate Trusted Advisor service that makes recommendations on how to save money, increase security, improve the fault tolerance of an application and boost performance. The recommendations are based on what Mehta described in the blog as "the aggregated operational history of hundreds of thousands of AWS customers."
Cloud trackability is a new front in the feature competition between cloud services. In February, for instance, Google unveiled a beta version of a Cloud Pricing Calculator to estimate costs and needs for computing power, storage, memory or other resources. The calculator is designed for estimating application deployment costs using Google's Compute Engine, Cloud Storage and Cloud SQL.
IBM has a simple, slider-based calculator for its SoftLayer cloud service, and Microsoft Azure has a slider-based one that includes SQL database size, bandwidth, support and other factors.
There are also a variety of third-party services that have offered tools for tracking costs of popular cloud services. Cloudability, for instance, is focused on AWS costs and usage, and includes a Reserved Instances Planner, EC2 Usage Analytics, AWS Cost Analytics by instance, service and AWS tags, and custom reports.
Another service, Cloudyn, announced Tuesday the general availability of its Enterprise Chargeback Edition, designed to help enterprises track their cloud costs at the departmental level. It provides views across business units into cloud usage, cost drivers and resource allocation, with recommendations for how to enhance utilization and performance or reduce costs.