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What are the best AWS cost management tools?

Our company migrated to AWS to save money, but we're having a hard time managing and monitoring cloud costs. What tools can help?

Managing costs in the cloud falls on a range of stakeholders -- data analysts, financial directors, mid-level IT managers, CIOs and even CFOs. And all teams involved want a cloud cost management tool that's easy to use, sports a rich dashboard and creates concise, customizable financial reports. The ability to receive alerts, events and transaction logs is equally important. Often native AWS cost management tools don't get granular enough for every company's needs. Third-party options can help.

Before Amazon Web Services (AWS) introduced Trusted Advisor, a native tool that can help customers monitor their cloud spending and improve performance, startups such as Cloudyn, Cloudability and Newvem -- acquired by Datapipe in 2014 -- recognized an emerging cloud adoption trend. Many companies were making a fundamental shift from traditional IT purchasing and capacity planning toward cloud consumption. Since then, the cost management tool market has continued to expand, with new players such as CloudCheckr and CloudHealth Technologies joining the fray.

With traditional performance monitoring systems, cost management and optimization do not play big roles. But these new tool vendors focused completely on AWS Cost Management. These systems are designed and built specifically for the AWS cloud, providing cost analysis and optimization recommendations based on aggregated account use and utilization metrics. For example, some third-party tools can help admins make informed decisions about Amazon Reserved Instances. Quick Reserved Instances purchase recommendations need to be based on qualitative and quantitative trend analyses -- capturing all relevant data and running smart optimization algorithms.

If a cloud environment holds ten or more instances and changes rapidly, IT teams should look to a third-party cost management tool. To select the right tool, it's important for companies to understand their cloud footprint, the size of their deployment and whether or not AWS Cost Explorer is enough to control cloud assets. Another consideration is the importance of a simple, smart user interface and user experience.

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