Introducing Enterprise Budgeting – Every CFO's Success Formula in Cloud

Cost budgeting in a large company is an exhaustive process. A tremendous amount of detail and input goes into this iterative procedure where each senior team member brings a cost budget from his or her team and the finance leader integrates it and then negotiates with the senior team members to get the numbers where they need to be. Budgeting is a collective process in which each individual operating units or Cost Centers prepare their own budget in conformity with company goals published by top management. Since cloud is quite scalable and often teams exceed their budget or don’t have a clear visibility over projected spend which leads to budget mismanagement and overall havoc for IT Directors to re-evaluate budget and get the approval of the Finance department. Also, at times IT Directors wish if they were able to set budgets at a very granular level that could diminish any kind of uncertainty. This is where Botmetric’s Budgeting can help you create a comprehensive budget model.

So, what is Enterprise Budgeting?

Botmetric’s new feature ‘Budgeting’ under Cost & Governance, will empower the financial leaders in your organization to set the budget and track it with seamless workflows and processes. The two inputs imperative to the budgeting process in a large enterprise are, a detailed cost model for the entire payer account and a comprehensive cost model for individual Cost Center based on linked account(s) and tags.

Who will benefit from Enterprise Budgeting?

Enterprise budgeting is a powerful tool which will be helpful to senior level professionals such as CFOs, CTOs, IT-Directors, Head of Infrastructure & Engg, Senior IT Managers and more.

Which Botmetric subscription plans have access to Budgeting?

Currently, we are enabling the Budgeting feature for Professional, Premium and Enterprise plans only, on request basis.

Botmetric Workflows Used in Budgeting:

The following workflow can be assigned to the people using budgeting:

  • User: User workflows with write permission will be allowed to only set the budget which will then be sent to a financial admin for approval.
  • Admin: Admin workflows/roles can provide the user with read and write access to budgeting. An admin can set the budget but only a financial admin can approve it.
  • Financial Admin: A Botmetric admin can also be a financial admin whose role will be to define the budget goal in Budgeting and approve the budget set by other users. By default, the owner of a Botmetric account will also be a financial admin.  

Add New User Smart Budgeting

Understanding Botmetric’s New Smart Cost Center

A Cost Center can be a department or any business unit in the company whose performance is usually evaluated through the comparison of budgeted to actual costs. Previously, Botmetric allowed you to create a Cost Center using tag-keys like ‘owner’, ‘customer’, ’role’, ‘team’ etc. Now, as per extensive budgeting requirements, Cost Centers in Botmetric can be defined in two ways-  based on tag keys alone and based on accounts and associated tag key-value pairs.

  • Based on Tag-Key

Here, you can choose the tag key which corresponds to your cost center. Based on the chosen tag key, Botmetric will create all possible cost centers for the tag values corresponding it.

add-cost-center-smart-budgeting

  • Based on account(s) or combination of multiple account(s) and tags

You can also create Cost Centers based on account(s) and customize them based on multiple grouping of tag keys. You can create a cost center group such as  account1->team1->role1.

add-cost-center2-enterprise-budgeting

Let’s say you have different nomenclature for the same tag-keys such as user:TEAM, user:team, user:Team, then you can multi-select these tags and get complete clarity on your cost center group.

add-cost-center3-enterprise-budgeting

Please note that you can only choose one option at a time. You cannot have a few cost centers created based on tags and few on account and tags combination.

How to set, track and monitor the budget?

  1. Allocate & Review

  •  Budget Goal:

Botmetric budgeting enables the financial leader to define a budget goal for the entire payer account as per his estimations for the financial year. You can either enter the budget inputs manually or you can use Botmetric’s estimate to populate the budget inputs across months, quarter and year. Botmetric looks at the data for the last 12 months for yearly budget tracking.

Based on your company size it can take upto 72 hours of time to enable, process and crunch your data.

  •    Assigning Budget to Individual Cost Center:

Individual Cost Center owner(s) or financial admin(s) can set/edit budget goals for their respective units. The owner or financial admin(s) can either enter the budget inputs manually or make use of Botmetric’s estimate to populate the budget inputs across months, quarter and year. If a non financial admin or user is creating the budget for his Cost Center, it will be sent to a financial admin for approval. The new roles provided for Budgeting are helpful for providing clear demarcation between users and financial admin(s). This will allow financial admin(s) to have control over the approval of budget while providing enough flexibility to the other roles to manage their Cost Centers effectively.

enterprise-budgeted-cost-center

  1. Budget Overview

Botmetric’s Budgeting Overview provides a summarised view where you can see a snapshot of your financial year performance at the payer account level. You can compare the actual, allocated and projected spends for the current month, current quarter and financial year. You can alse see a list of top spending Cost Centers for the current month and current quarter. Moreover, a complete trend graph comparing your actual, allocated and budgeted spend performance at a payer account level for 12 months and 4 quarters will help you evaluate Budgeting with a quick glance.

enterprise-budgeting-allocated-yearly-budget

  1. Cost Center View

Botmetric’s Cost Center Overview provides a comprehensive view to track the performance for each Cost Center. Fine grained resources and service details provide a deeper and instantaneous understanding of where a certain Cost Center is incurring more cost. Ability to shuffle the view among monthly, quarterly and yearly options will allow the user to understand the budget variance over time. Each Cost Center will be evaluated to determine whether its incurred cost is within the allocated budget or it has exceeded the defined budget limit.

Moreover, each Cost Center has a corresponding budget trend graph to show the comparison between actual,  allocated and estimated spend. If you have a huge list of Cost Centers in your cloud, the search bar will help you to quickly find the desired Cost Center.

enterprise-budgeting-cost-center-overview
Botmetric’s Enterprise Budgeting will empower IT budget owners to define and track budgets at every granular level. This will also streamline budget processes in your organization and bring composure in the chaotic world of budget goals setting. Signup for 14 days free trial and check how it can help your organisation in cloud cost saving.

Botmetric Brings Unique Click to Fix for AWS Security Group Audit

In today’s day and age, deploying solutions and products on the cloud has become the new norm. However, managing your cloud infrastructure, implementing critical cloud security controls, and preventing vulnerabilities can become quite challenging.

Security & Compliance

Botmetric’s Security & Compliance simplifies the process of discovering and rectifying the threats as well as shortcomings in your AWS infrastructure by providing a comprehensive set of audits and recommendations, which saves a lot of time and makes eliminating unused Security Groups easy.

Botmetric’s Security & Compliance imbibes culture of continuous security and DevSecOps by automating industry best practices for cloud compliance and security. For an AWS user this simplifies the process of discovering and rectifying the threats.

Remediation of Security Threats with Botmetric

At Botmetric, we believe in simplifying cloud management for our customers. To amplify this, we provide the ‘click to fix’ feature for many of our Security & Compliance audits. This feature enables users to implement the best practices recommended by Botmetric simply with the click of a button. While saving a lot of time and effort, it also eliminates the possibility of human error. Moreover, rather than manually fixing each and every resource, Botmetric allows you to select multiple resources and fix them all at once.  

Click to Fix Security Group Audit

In an effort to allow our users to easily secure their cloud, we have recently added ‘click to fix’ feature for all Botmetric security group audits.

Why Botmetric Built Click to Fix for AWS Security Group Audits?

Security groups in AWS provide an efficient way to assign access to resources on your network. The rules that you define in security groups should be scrutinized. For a simple reason that you could end up giving a wide open access resulting in an increased risk of security breaches. The security group audits provided by Botmetric discover issues, such as as security groups having rules with TCP/UDP ports open to public, servers open to public, port ranges open to public,  so on and so forth. These are serious security loopholes that could leave your cloud open to malicious attacks.

Botmetric’s ‘click to fix’ feature for AWS security group audits deletes the vulnerable security group rule, thereby securing access to your cloud resources and protecting your cloud infrastructure.

Botmetric- Click to Fix

List of AWS Security Group Audits provided by Botmetric

  • Database Ports

Protecting database ports is crucial as you wouldn’t want access leaks or open ports to your Database ports. Botmetric scans your database ports open to public, IP and private subnet. Securing these would ensure your database ports safety in a security group.

  • Server Ports

Very essential as a lot of security issues and vulnerabilities have been caused due to server ports. Botmetric secures ports open to public, IP and private subnet.

  • TCP UDP  and ICMP Ports

Relies everything we do on the internet, here Botmetric secures open ports to both public and IP.

There are few more controls for Security Group such as All Traffic and Port Range also secured by the audits.

How to Enable Click to Fix for AWS Security Group Audits?

To use the click to fix for security group audits, please ensure that you have added “ec2:RevokeSecurityGroupIngress” permission to the policy of the role whose ARN is configured for Security and Compliance.

The Bottom line:

At Botmetric, we will continue to add more AWS cloud security and compliance features. We will soon come up with a detailed post on Click to Fix feature for several key AWS Security Audits. Until then stay tuned with us.

This is a newly launched feature by Botmetric. To explore this feature, take up a 14 day trial . If you have any questions on AWS security or AWS security best practices, just drop in a line below in the comment section or Tweet to us at @BotmetricHQ.

Announcing Botmetric Cost & Governance Beta in Microsoft Azure

Since 2014, we’ve been managing our Botmetric products like Cost & Governance, Security & Compliance, and Ops & Automation; for our greatest AWS users across the globe. We are happy that we managed to help enterprises to leverage cloud computing to their platform.  Now we have immense pleasure and delight to announce the beta release of Botmetric Cost & Governance in Microsoft Azure.

What is Azure?

The term ‘Azure’ stands for ‘bright blue in color like a cloudless sky’. By keeping that terminology in mind, Microsoft has adopted the term ‘Azure’ to denote their cloud computing platform-Microsoft Azure.

What makes Microsoft Azure special?

As per the definition given by Microsoft, Microsoft Azure is a growing collection of integrated cloud services which developers and IT professionals use to build, deploy and manage applications through the global network of data centers. With Azure, you get the freedom to build and deploy the instances wherever you want by using the tools, applications, and frameworks of your choice.

Azure focuses on protecting your assets by using a rigorous methodology that follows 4 milestones: Security, Privacy, Compliance, and Transparency.

How can you manage your spend on Cloud wisely?

Most of the companies migrate to public cloud by disregarding the prerequisite that cost-cutting depends on efficient management and automation. Hence it is wise that the companies follow proven best practices to reduce the spend in Azure and make optimization in a cost-effective manner.

Botmetric Cost & Governance in Azure is an integrated platform for enterprises to control their spend on the cloud. It’s an ecosystem that enables your enterprise to track the cost incurred for services that run on your cloud platform.

How can we help you?

Most of the companies migrate to public cloud by disregarding the prerequisite that cost-cutting depends on efficient management and automation. Hence it is wise that the companies follow proven best practices to reduce spend in Azure and make optimization in a cost-effective manner.

In this beta version, Botmetric has enabled Cost & Governance in Azure’s cloud platform with:

  1. Powerful dashboard – holistic view of Azure spend
  2. Azure Analyze – Deep dive into Azure cost analysis

Let’s have a look at the features of Botmetric Cost & Governance in Azure

Dashboard Overview

Botmetric Cost & Governance for Azure has a powerful dashboard that gives you a holistic overview of your overall spend under a single pane of glass. It has always proven to deliver concise information that needs minimal time to consume. It is the welcome screen which will throw insights and help you to start your day with precise required information about your Azure cloud.

Botmetric converts your Azure cost data into actionable insights that give you a comprehensive picture of your entire spending of your enterprise. With Botmetric you can view monthly usage charges, compare current Azure spend with previous month’s, review cost projections for next month or a year from a single pane. Get 360-degree visibility into your Azure spending and get smart insights to keep your Azure cloud costs under control.

How to drill down your Azure spend by using Botmetric?

View month-to-date cost trends displayed in clean graphical charts to keep a track of your monthly consumption of Azure services and respective costs. Discover those unknown spikes and dig deeper to understand and evaluate the key cost drivers and rogue elements that are causing the spikes. There are more than 8 filters that will help you to deep dive and gain desired granular data. Learn which Azure service/subscription has incurred unrealistic costs to your enterprise.

Who can use this?

Azure compatibility is available to all Botmetric users. You can pull the spending data from any Azure EA; simply configure your Azure EA by entering your Azure Enterprise Enrollment ID and API Access Key on the Credentials page to get started.

Azure Account Controls

You can include Azure Subscriptions and AWS Accounts in the same Botmetric Account Group. Use these Account Groups to restrict users’ views to specific areas of spending to group cost-based business unit or cost center.

Coming soon…

We are also providing the Save functionality in Azure for Cost & Governance where all your actionable insights on possible Azure savings converge under one roof. Users who have a major concern for savings in the cloud, have a greater opportunity and ease to save now in Azure with Botmetric.

Today's CFO's Guide to Perfected Cloud Cost Management

Now’s the time to make sure that you have control over your business cloud cost accounting as well as cloud cost management. If you tackle the matter early, it won’t be very difficult. But if you let it sit for too long you could be facing insurmountable technical debt. Moreover, cloud computing has been a growing phenomenon, and now 85 percent of businesses are using cloud technology, up from 82 percent in 2016.

Because cloud computing has been quickly evolving and is a fairly broad concept for enterprises, it’s important to choose the right type of cloud platform for the appropriate business workload and enterprise application needs. As a CFO, your decisions impact all aspects of your business including the ROI. Therefore, you should be ready to manage cloud costs effectively while bringing the IT agility for your business to drive up the innovation. This article serves as a guide to perfected cloud cost management and will cover certain concepts, challenges, and keys to cloud management.

New Digital Era, But Same Problems

It’s a well-known fact that businesses must constantly improve and innovate to stay competitive. In many ways the cloud has transformed business culture, ranging from increased speed, IT agility, business disaster recovery to creating mobile workforces. The cloud is a cost-saving and time-saving technology, enabling enterprise applications and data to be more easily shared, which in turn allows more efficient allocation of resources.

Additionally, the cloud has spurred new innovations by lowering the cost of starting a business or experimenting on new ideas within large enterprises. Cloud technologies allow independent businesses to share their collective infrastructure to reduce the cost and difficulty of small business partnerships.

Even with the benefits such as the ones mentioned, there are challenges and concerns of having company functions in the cloud. These challenges include:

  • Cloud Security
  • Business IT Integration
  • Cloud ROI –  Longterm Cost Management

When it comes to CCM and IT, the underlying problem with cloud management is that IT ends up having to give up control as different business and technical teams can directly consume and use the cloud infrastructure. In an enterprise company environment where the cloud has been adopted, developers/engineers have the ability to provision resources on a self-service basis to bring agility, rather than IT enforcing policies by carefully reviewing developers’ provision requests, as would be the case in a cloud-free environment.

In an environment where anyone can provision and consume Cloud infrastructure, it’s important to ensure that your organization has governance control over its cloud costs requires your ability to identify all of the organization’s cloud resources. This can be quite challenging if the company has commissioned resources in multiple clouds or accounts. You must also have the ability to map cloud resources to specific owners, teams and business group purposes, which allows the finance department to break down the company’s bill by business unit or department to understand who is using what?

Enterprise Cloud Cost Management (CCM) Challenges

In continuance with discussion of business challenges and governance concerns, there are two significant cloud cost management challenges we’ll also look at:

  • Predicting cloud spending, internal chargebacks and allocating budgets accordingly
  • Lack of financial transparency due to scattered usage

Enterprise Cloud costs are hard to predict and hard to understand, creating the need for CCM tooling and application to help business users with visibility and full control for governance. With traditional infrastructure capacity you have a pre-determined price that’s independent of actual usage, but with cloud technology you have a pay-per-use model that entails extensive variation on a day-to-day basis.  The variance in the spend due to OPEX model is a evolving challenge for most enterprise CFO teams.

As enterprises use different types of clouds, things get more complicated. This prompts the CFO’s need for summed up information about the costs. Based on location, clouds can be classified into the following types:

  • Private
  • Public
  • Hybrid
  • Community cloud

Based on the service offered, clouds can be classified in the following manner:

  • SaaS (Software-as-a-Service)
  • IaaS (Infrastructure-as-a-Service)
  • PaaS (Platform-as-a-Service)
  • or, Database, Information, Storage, Security, Integration, Application, Process, Testing, Management-as-a-Service

There are security risks with data in the cloud, just like the potential risks in data centers. Many Internet users are oblivious to the fact that ransomware can easily seize control over files stored on the cloud if there is a centralised compromise around access keys or root cloud accounts. The best defense against this threat is a good set of security protections, following cloud vendor best practices and critical business data backups that are made daily. It is preferred that these backups are made to a device that is not always connected to the network or isolated into another cloud account with lock-down access.

Cloud Cost Analytics and Spend Visualization: The Key to Optimization

As mentioned previously, cloud computing has many benefits for businesses. Some more major benefits include:

  • Capital cost reduction (no need to buy hardware, data center space, cooling and power)
  • Faster deployment of infrastructure and business applications
  • Can be used as a test bed for the development and testing of application prototypes
  • Reducing/eliminating operational costs through cloud automation

While many advantages are offered, cloud computing is not a panacea for all IT challenges faced by modern enterprise businesses. It’s critical that you know who is using the cloud, how much, and for what business purposes within your organisation through automated governance provisions. Lack of awareness in these areas leads to losing money instead of improved ROI that could be used for other projects within your company.

An effective Cloud Cost Management is a matter of what, where, how, why and managing it can be more effective when you use the following important tips:

  • Understand the cost structure. Some general cost model classifications are user licensing, all inclusive, and resource by the hour.
  • Use cloud tagging to spot cloud resources by teams, business groups.
  • Get a complete picture of current use and costs through effective tagging for chargebacks
  • Reduce sprawl and cut costs by practicing cloud resource management.
  • Enterprise level visibility and automated governance for ROI

Concluding Thoughts

The cloud can bring many advantages to your business. With that being said, a CFO needs a clear understanding of the cloud and how to get the most out of it so money and resources aren’t wasted. You must choose the right type of governance controls for your cloud and implement the effective management measures to make sure everything runs efficiently for your business while taking advantage of cloud benefits as a company.

What’s your take. Do give us a shout out.

Share Data-Rich AWS Cloud Reports Instantly with Your Team Directly From Botmetric

Once Henry Ford said, “Coming together is a beginning. Keeping together is progress. Working together is success.” This adage holds so true to find success while managing AWS cloud. For the reason that: to achieve complete AWS cloud management is not a one person’s responsibility, but is a shared responsibility and more so a teamwork. And for the teamwork to reap benefits, all the team members need complete visibility with pertinent data in the form of AWS cloud reports in hand. To cater to this need Botmetric has introduced ‘Share Reports’ feature that allows a Botmetric user to share important AWS cost, security or Ops automation reports with multiple AWS users for better collaboration.

If you’re a Botmetric user, you can now:

  • Share the data-rich reports directly from any Botmetric products, thus saving time and effort
  • Educate both Botmetric and non-Botmetric user(s) within your team about various aspects of your AWS infrastructure
  • Highlight items that may need action by other teammates

Why Botmetric Built Share Reports

Currently, Botmetric offers more than 40 reports and 30 graphs and charts. These reports, charts and graphs help for better cloud governance. More so, these data-rich reports offer a great culmination of insights and help keep you updated on your AWS infrastructure.

Earlier, Botmetric empowered its users (those added to your Botmetric account) to download all these reports. However, at times, it’s likely you’ll need to send perpetual reports to other colleagues too that may not be part of your Botmetric Account.

Thus, continuing our mission to provide complete visibility and control for AWS users and your AWS infrastructure, Botmetric now allows you to email/share those reports directly to non-Botmetric user(s) too. By doing so, Botmetric empowers every custodian for cloud in your organization responsible for cloud with pertinent data, even if they are not Botmetric users.

More so, the new share functionality enables you to share specific reports across Cost & Governance, Security & Compliance, and Ops & Automation to custodians who are not Botmetric users in your organization and wish to discover knowledge on certain AWS cloud items.

The new share reports can be used across Botmetric platform in two specific ways:

1. Share Historical Reports

Share all the AWS cloud reports present under reports library on the Botmetric console to other custodians in the team.

Share all the AWS Cloud reports for better cloud management

2. Export and Share Charts and Graphs as CSV Reports

If you find any crucial information in any of the reports under Botmetric Cost & Governance, Security & Compliance or Ops & Automation, you can share using the ‘Share icon’ to any other custodian who isn’t Botmetric user(s) but responsible for cloud.

Share AWS cloud reports on Cost, Security, Ops with the team using Botmetric

For example, you would want to share the list of ports open to public to the person in your team who is responsible for perimeter security. You can do this from Audit Reports section of Security & Compliance.

The Bottom Line:

AWS has more than 70 resources and each resource has multiple family types. With so many variance in AWS’ services, you surely need either holistic information or a particular information at some point for analysis. With Botmetric reports and the new sharability feature, you and your team can together manage and optimize your AWS cloud with minimal effort.    

If you are a current Botmetric user, then Team Botmetric invites you to try this feature and share your feedback. If you’re yet to try Botmetric and want to explore this feature, then take up a 14 day trial . If you have any questions on AWS cloud management, just drop in a line below in the comment section or give us a shout out at @BotmetricHQ.

Don’t Let 2017 Amazon AWS S3 Outage Like Errors Affect You Again

On February 28th, 2017, several companies reported Amazon AWS S3 Cloud Storage Outage. Within minutes, hundreds and thousands of Twitter posts started making rounds across the globe sharing their experiences how their apps went down due to this outage.

 

Don’t Let 2017 Amazon AWS S3 Outage Like Errors Affect You Again

Image Source: https://twitter.com/TechCrunch

 

The issue that kicked off around 9:44 Pacific Time (17:44 UTC) on 28th Feb 2017, was reported primarily due to an error in simple storage buckets hosted in the us-east-1 region (as tweeted by AWS).

 

Don’t Let 2017 Amazon AWS S3 Outage Like Errors Affect You Again

Image Source: https://twitter.com/awscloud?lang=en

 

This AWS S3 outage led to major websites and services, such as Medium, Docker Registry Hub, Asana, Quora, Runkeeper, Trello, Yahoo Mail, etc. falling offline, losing images, or left running haphazardly.

According to sources, this AWS S3 outage disrupted half the internet. Because, Amazon S3 is used by approximately 148,213 websites, and 121,761 unique domains, according to SimilarTech.  

Even though AWS fixed it after juggling for several hours, its impact was huge.

 

Don’t Let 2017 Amazon AWS S3 Outage Like Errors Affect You AgainImage Source: https://status.aws.amazon.com/

What caused it?

According to Nick Kephart, senior director of product marketing for San Francisco-based network intelligence company ThousandEyes, who monitored this situation closely said that during the outage information could get into Amazon’s overall network, but attempting to establish a network connection with the S3 servers was not possible. Due to this, all traffic was dead in its tracks. Hence, all the sites and apps that hosted data, images, or other information on S3 were affected.

As a company, how could you avoid this situation or fool-proof your system against such outages in the future? Here’s how:

Use Region Level DR Rather Than AZ Level DR

People who did not go for Region level DR and opted for AZ level DR in their session were affected. When you opt for Region level DR, you will have to copy data from one S3 Region to another S3 Region and sync that S3 data between Regions. This helps with availability of a backup, hence helping you cope with such outages in future.  

Opt for Cross-Region Replication

Cross region replication helps to make it easier for you to make copies of your AMIs/snapshots to another in a second AWS region so that you can always keep a system running in another region. Or, so to say, run the stand-by environment in another region.

Go for the AWS CloudFormation Template

Use CloudFormation template to create a cluster in another region, so that you don’t have to wait for a longer duration to spring back to normal. It will not take more than 2 hours for you to bring the cluster and whole environment back on track with CloudFormation.

Bottom line: No Technology is Perfect

All technologies might fail at some point. A Plan B in place is the best way forward.

Even though large swaths of the internet went down due to this Amazon AWS S3 Cloud Storage Outage, several sites and apps were not affected by it. Reason:  They had their data spread across multiple regions.

If you know of any other way to mitigate such outages, do share it with us in the comment section below or tweet us @BotmetricHQ.