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AWS Trusted Advisor users at odds with cloud monitoring tool costs

Amazon's move to make elements of its Trusted Advisor cloud monitoring tool available for free last week should only be the first step toward differentiating its IaaS with advanced monitoring gratis.

Amazon Web Services has made elements of its Trusted Advisor cloud monitoring software available for free, but IT pros say the whole toolkit should be offered at no cost, similar to comparable services offered by competitive cloud providers.

Amazon Web Services (AWS) will give any AWS user access to a set of four best practice checks via the AWS Management Console. The set includes a Service Limits Check, which alerts the customer when they are using more than 80% of allocated resources.

Another best practice check that's available for free is Security Groups - Specific Ports Unrestricted Check, which notifies users of overly permissive access to Elastic Compute Cloud instances. Finally, the Identity and Access Management (IAM) Use Check and Multi-Factor Authentication on Root Account Check are meant to improve the user's security posture in the AWS cloud.

Customers of the paid version of AWS Trusted Advisor will also have checks and metrics available directly through the AWS Management Console.

It’s a great product concept … I just wish it were all included in their standard offering.
Jared Reimerco-founder of Cascadeo Corp.

While a positive step, IT pros say they want AWS to make all of Trusted Advisor available at no charge. Currently, fault-tolerance checks and excluding certain metrics from results requires customers to pay for AWS support, which starts at $49 a month for the developer level of support and $100 a month for business-level support. Business-level support includes one-hour response times, the assistance of a cloud engineer and, among other things, 37 Trusted Advisor checks. Enterprise-level support -- which includes the help of a senior cloud engineer as well as a technical account manager with response times under 15 minutes, along with the expanded Trusted Advisor checks and other features -- costs at least $15,000 a month.

The free version of AWS Trusted Advisor "is better than nothing, of course, but not a huge value add or differentiation point, given the functionality they’re providing at no cost," said Jared Reimer, co- founder of Cascadeo Corp., an IT consulting firm located in Mercer Island, Washington. 

The expanded, paid offering looks to be considerably more useful than the free version, Reimer said.

"It's a great product concept … I just wish it were all included in their standard offering, as it's in everyone’s best interests and a strong differentiator against other providers," he said.

Amazon wouldn't necessarily be blazing a trail with this kind of offering. Though Rackspace has struggled in the cloud computing space, it offers cloud monitoring tools free with every cloud account. Google also offers a cloud monitoring API that takes some setup, but also doesn't cost anything for members of its private beta program. Google put IP from its May Stackdriver acquisition into its Google Cloud Platform, which makes it more analogous to the advanced functionality AWS Trusted Advisor offers.  

Trusted Advisor should follow in that direction, according to Eric Dynowski, CEO and co-founder of the Turing Group, a cloud consulting and managed services firm based in Evanston, Illinois. Dynowski, whose team manages AWS accounts on behalf of customers using Trusted Advisor, said he’d like to see a Google-like API for Trusted Advisor so remediation of issues can be done programmatically and automatically.

"We'd definitely like to get more automation around using the data that comes out of Trusted Advisor," Dynowski said.

Meanwhile, Amazon isn't alone in offering a "freemium" model for cloud monitoring -- companies such as Cloudyn also offer a free version of its product to entice customers toward the $229 per month Premium version. Unlike Google and AWS, which do not monitor other clouds, Cloudyn covers multiple service providers.

About the author:
Beth Pariseau is senior news writer for SearchAWS. Write to her at or follow @PariseauTT on Twitter.

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Are the additional AWS Trusted Advisor tools worth paying for?