Leverage cloud financial intelligence systems with AWS

The use of cloud financial intelligence systems offers insights into cloud usage, like how to track your AWS bill and understand how your AWS instances are leveraged.

The use of Amazon Web Services (AWS)-based resources requires that we understand how those resources are consumed. It should include answers to the questions: who, what, when, where, why and how much. Last month we discussed how to understand and manage your AWS bill. This month let’s explore how that bill tracks back to specific resources and consumption patterns through cloud financial intelligence systems.

To reach this goal, we need to determine patterns of cloud use that lead to demand planning capabilities, as well as revenue or cost projections. This information should be presented in such a way that it’s not only operationally effective, but effective in driving core decision support around the use of single-, hybrid- or multi-cloud –based resources.

As I work with enterprises that are in the process of deploying clouds, I find that most of the value of cloud computing comes from IaaS providers, such as AWS. However, there is much confusion about how to understand and track resources that many consider to be a black box.

The use of cloud financial intelligence systems, typically from cloud financial management system providers, offers insights into cloud usage. Cloud financial management providers, such as Cloud Cruiser and others, can tell you how effective the cloud platforms are in delivery of services. This includes how each service tracks back to cloud resources that support the services, as well as who is consuming the services and by how much.

It's all about the ability to leverage data from multiple components of the architecture, not just AWS.

However, the true value of these systems is not the simple operational cost data that they are able to gather and report on -- it’s the ability to leverage deeper analytics to determine usage patterns, and how those patterns will behave over time. This means you have the ability to better understand how your AWS instances (and other cloud services) were put to use in the past, and more importantly, how they will be leveraged in the future, including the ability to properly estimate cloud resource utilization in the context of complex and widely distributed architectures.

It’s all about the ability to make the most out of data from multiple components of the architecture, not just AWS. Most enterprises that deploy cloud-based systems do so using either public and private clouds within a multi-cloud architecture, which may also be mixed with traditional (or legacy) systems. This makes the financial tracking much more complex, but also much more valuable.

For example, a production management system may leverage core storage services from AWS, session management services from their OpenStack private cloud and core database services using a traditional Oracle database running in their data center. Thus, the cloud financial management system needs to gather information for many different system components, including the private and public clouds , as well as the local database. System owners can use this information to determine the amount of resources consumed, as well as patterns of consumption over time. They have a complete picture as to how a holistic system is functioning, including cloud and non-cloud components.

Once the data is stored in the cloud financial management system, it can be analyzed any number of ways. This includes the ability to understand consumption patterns around a specific resource, such as AWS S3 storage, or to examine a complex system of resources. This could include multi-cloud, which can be comprised of a number of public and private clouds, as well as traditional systems.

The end game here is to provide views into the cloud systems’ operations that are both operationally focused, as well as views that provide helpful analytics. As you deploy your AWS-based systems, you need to make sure you have a strategy and technology solution that will provide these types of services. This is how you get a complete understanding of what provides the true value from your AWS cloud.

This was first published in June 2014

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