May Roundup @ Botmetric: Deeper AWS Cost Analysis and Continuous Security

Cost modelling, budget reduction and cost optimization are some of the top most considerations for businesses irrespective of size. Whether it is an enterprise with 100+ foot print or a small start-up with less than 10 employees, cost reduction is always a great news. This month, we had two awesome news by AWS in regards to cost reduction — 61st Price Reduction slashing the rates of EC2 RIs & M4 Prices and releasing better Cost Allocation for EBS snapshots, and a key Botmetric Security & Compliance product roll-out on CIS Compliance. So in the month of May, focus was on AWS cloud cost analysis and continuous security.

Like every month, here we are presenting May month-in-review, covering all the key activities around Botmetric and AWS cloud.

Product News You Must Know @ Botmetric

Botmetric continues to build more competencies on its platform. Here’re the May month updates:

CIS Compliance for Your AWS

What is about: Auditing your infrastructure as per AWS CIS Benchmark policies to ensure complete CIS compliance of your AWS infra, without you going through complex process or studying docs.

How it will help: It will help AWS users, AWS auditor, AWS system integrator, AWS partner, or a AWS consultant to imbibe CIS AWS Framework best practices. This ensures CIS compliance for your AWS cloud.

Where can you find this feature on Botmetric: Under Security & Compliance’ Security Audit & Remediation console.

To know more in detail, read the blog ‘Embrace Continuous Security and Ensure CIS Compliance for Your AWS, Always.’

Cost Allocation for AWS EBS Snapshots

What is about: AWS has been evolving the custom tagging support for most of the services like EC2, RDS, ELB, BeanStalk, etc. And now it has introduced Cost Allocation for EBS snapshots. Botmetric, quickly acting on this new AWS announcement, incorporated this cost allocation and cost analysis for EBS snapshots.

How it will help: It will allow you to use Cost Allocation Tags for your EBS snapshots so that you can assign costs to your customers, applications, teams, departments, or billing codes at the level of individual resources. With this new feature you can analyze your EBS snapshot costs as well as usage easily.

Where can you find this feature on Botmetric: Under Cost & Governance’s Chargeback console.

To know more in detail, read the blog ‘Cost Allocation for AWS EBS Snapshots Made Easy, Get Deeper AWS Cost Analysis.’

Use of InfluxDB Real-Time Metrics Data Store by Botmetric

What is about: Botmetric’s journey in choosing InfluxDB real-time metrics data store over KairosDB+Cassandra cluster, and key reasons why engineer or an architect looking for a real-time data store featuring a simple operational management should opt for InfluxDB.  

How it helped Botmetric: With the use of InfluxDB, Botmetric could speed-up application development time, while the simple operational management of InfluxDB has been helpful. Plus, team Botmetric was able to easily query data and aggregate it. Above all, InfluxDB offered auto expiry support for certain datasets. Using InfluxDB, Botmetric is able reduce its DevOps effort in cleaning up old data using separate utilities.

Knowledge Sharing @ Botmetric

5 Cloud Security Trends Shaping 2017 and Beyond

While the switch to cloud computing provides many advantages in cost savings and flexibility, security is still a prime consideration for several businesses. It’s vital to consider new cloud technologies in 2017 for countering such rising threats. This guest post by Josh McAllister covered the top cloud security trends that are shaping 2017. Some of them are AI and automation, micro-segmentation, software governance, adopt new security technologies, ransomware and the IoT, and much more. If you are looking to improve your security posture, then this blog post is a must read.  

The Biggest Pet Peeves of Cloud Practitioners and Why You Should Know

Despite adoption, there are a lot of barriers and challenges to a cloud’s adoption and acceleration. So it is for cloud practitioners as well. Botmetric throws some light on it — it could be apprehensions about losing control and visibility over data, having lesser visibility and control over operations compared to on-prem IT infra, fear of bill shock, and more. As a cloud user, do you want to know the top pet peeves of a cloud practitioner and turn them into possibilities or opportunities? Know about these roadblocks here.

A CFO’s Roadmap to AWS Cloud Cost Forecasting and Budgeting

Despite exponential increase in cloud adoption, there is one major fear attached to AWS, for that matter all the cloud’s adoption — how to be on top of cloud sprawl, and how to perfect AWS cost forecasting and budgeting as an enterprise business. To add to it, for today’s CFOs, IT is at the top of their agenda. If  you are a CFO trying to up your game and seeking to build a roadmap for AWS cloud cost modelling, spend forecasting and cloud budgeting, and above all assuage cloud sprawl?  Bookmark this blog.

What is NoOps, Is it Agile Ops?

DevOps is there, but today it is being augmented with NoOps using automation. And by taking a NoOps approach, businesses will be able to focus on clean application development, shorter cycles, and more so increased business agility.

On the other hand, in the journey of DevOps, if you automate mundane Ops tasks, it leads to NoOps. Essentially, NoOps frees-up developers’ time to further utilize their time for more innovation and to bring agility into ops (which is Agile Ops). Do read Botmetric’s take on this.

​Ultimate Comparison of AWS EC2 t2.large vs. m4.large for Media Industry

Two types of AWS EC2 instances, t2.large and m4.large, feature almost similar configuration. With media sites required to handle large number of concurrent visitors at any given time, both these resources seem perfect. This makes it challenging to make a decision on choosing the best resource, in terms of price and performance if you are a media company.  To eliminate this confusion, Botmetric has come up with information break-up of AWS EC2 t2.large vs. m4.large for media companies.  If you are a media company on AWS, this post by Botmetric might interest you.

The Wrap-up

Before we wrap-up this month, we have a freebie to share. Botmetric has always recommended AWS users to use tagging and monitoring as a stepping stone towards ensuring budgeting and cost compliance. To this end, Botmetric has come up with an expert guide that will help save cost on AWS cloud with smart tagging. Download it here.

Until next month, stay tuned with us.

A CFO’s Roadmap to AWS Cloud Cost Forecasting and Budgeting

For today’s CFOs, IT is at the top of their agenda. With 26 percent of IT investments requiring direct authorization of a CFO in an organization, several CFOs have either embraced or are ready to adopt cloud due its OPEX model. To this end, Gartner estimates that by 2020,  the aggregate amount of cloud shift might reach up to $216B. And with AWS topping the charts among the CSPs,  Wikibon estimates that by 2022 AWS will reach $43B in revenue, and will be 8.2% of all cloud spending. Despite exponential increase in the adoption, there is one major fear attached to AWS, for that matter all the cloud’s adoption — how to be on top of cloud sprawl, and how to perfect AWS cost forecasting and budgeting as an enterprise business.

If  you are a CFO trying to up your game and seeking to build a roadmap for AWS cloud cost modelling, spend forecasting and cloud budgeting, and above all assuage cloud sprawl?  Here’s how:

AWS Cost Modeling and Calculating TCO of the Cloud

Unlike owned and self-operated data centers, cost modeling for procuring an instances over a specific cloud is different. Hence, total cost of ownership (TCO) is different in both the cases. When it comes to calculating the TCO of your cloud infrastructure, the real challenge is figuring out the pricing models of cloud service providers and planning the accurate capacity requirements for a period of at least two quarters to one full year. And when it comes to AWS cloud, all the services need to be taken into account including data, storage, networking on top of compute infrastructure, etc.

As a CFO, you also need an  application or workload specific cost modeling on AWS cloud. In this case,  the first step should be to take business demand variations into account as per periodic seasonal cycles. Your cost estimations will definitely take a hit if you do not consider the impact of the seasonal fluctuations on service-level agreement, usage patterns, storage requirements, and cloud environment configurations.

Plus, you need to detail the capacity plan to the level of individual application workloads instead of other dimensions like departments. Because the impact will vary from workload to workload. There are chances, you might be over planning or under planning the capacities.

While centralized planning at the application or workload level for all departments is unrealistic and hard to do, it can be an apt approach for realistic budgeting and forecasting if it’s already followed for data centers. However, when departments or business units are asked to create cloud cost forecasting and budgeting plans, you can indirectly work with them to create the cost plan at the application workload level.

Leverage Cloud Cost Reports to Identify Peak Resource Usage Scenarios

Identifying peak resource utilization patterns for various workloads is one of the stepping stones to a reliable AWS cost budgeting and forecasting. This can be achieved easily through periodic analytics and running reports over the usage data. The best way forward is to leverage other data sources like seasonal customer demand patterns and see whether these patterns have correlations with the peak resource usages.  When these patterns are identified in advance, required base capacity can be taken care by buying pertinent reserved instances (RIs).

However, use of RIs requires proportional amortization allocation that are based on usage hours across specific business units or application workloads. It may also involve upfront capital expenditure (CAPEX) depending on the cloud provider’s business models.

On the other hand, even though RIs take care of predictable usage requirements, they cannot help with spikes. Plus, amortizing RI costs to the appropriate projects or teams (via resource tags) within the organization is a huge challenge too.

Planning Cloud Capacity and RI Amortization

A proportional cloud capacity purchase and amortization allocation based on usage hours requires several measures, like mapping a piece of the upfront RI payment to each hour of usage for the RI, using the workload metadata tags that can be assigned to resources and tieing back to RI usage ( so that proper cost allocation can be done at cost center level or at business unit level).  By doing so, you have visibility into expected increase in cost by various cost centers or business units within the organization.

If you want to know the proportional and hourly amortized costs of RI, few smart third-party tools can throw usage insights that reflect cost incurred by various business units or teams’ RI spend across your organization. The next step is to track overall cloud as well as workload-level consumption against the planned budget so that as a business you can be within the allocated expenditure for cloud usage.

Save more than 50% on your cloud with smart RI planning.

Track Cloud Consumption Against the Plan through Cloud Management Platforms

The organizational level cloud budgeting and cost plan adopted must be regularly tracked at monthly or bi-monthly intervals by comparing the planned usage vs. actual cloud spend so that right financial governance controls can be deployed.

Also a periodic review of planned vs actual usage will help you and your business to understand how to optimize the use of underutilized cloud resources across organization or within specific cost centers to reduce AWS cloud expenditure.

Using tools like Botmetric, you can identify the anomalous usage patterns, detect underused resources and take corrective action in real-time instead of waiting till the end of the quarter period to take stock of overall forecasting.

Another key aspect that cannot be ignored by financial controllers handling the cloud procurement within the organization is to streamline AWS cloud cost budgeting as per organizational level chargeback or internal invoicing based on business units or cost centers. The best way forward to achieve this goal is to plan minimal governance around resource costs at department level or workload level through tagging, allocating extra spend to specific teams and generating chargeback invoices to respective business units.

Applying Predictive Analytics for Projecting Cloud Spend and Forecasting Usage

Even though AWS itself provides a basic AWS Cost Explorer Forecast widget in the AWS console, you will need a tool beyond that, which can help achieveforecasting with ease. You can leverage predictive data analytics tools like Botmetric to keep your cloud spend in control by acting upon smart, intelligent recommendations based on more than 80 AWS best practices.

Also, Botmetric provides predictive Analytics as a way to get forecasting data, deploying financial controls for organizational level governance and meet future demand patterns accurately based on the past usage data.

Adopt Financial Governance Best Practices for Cost Management

While the above four approaches help you at the macro-level-cost-management level within a business and at the cost center level, the best way to optimize your cloud usage and spend is by adopting the best practices advocated by the cloud experts in the ecosystem, such as:

  1. Track storage and data transfer charges at cost center or business unit level
  2. Constantly monitor and remove unused resources at workload level
  3. Track, manage, and fix underused instances at workload level
  4. Look for unattached persistent volumes and old snapshots at organizational level
  5. Look for allocated spend spikes to specific business units or cost centers through chargebacks

There are many more best practices. However, to follow all the best practices, decreed by AWS as well as cloud experts, requires a lot of effort and spending on resources. Nevertheless, there is a way out using intelligent, AI-powered platforms.

To Wrap-Up

To succeed as a CFO in cloud world, access to consolidated billing report, visibility into cloud data to monitor usage, capability to establish governance policies to control cloud expenses, and successfully forecast future expenses are a must haves. And with access to tools that can provide real-time notifications of exceeded budget limits, budget forecasting, and visibility into your cloud infrastructure costs will be like icing on the cake. Botmetric Cost & Governance provides just that.

With Botmetric you can spend more time determining the best way to optimize your cloud with your team rather than analyzing complex billing reports, following trends on specific infrastructure growth, and continuously monitoring on-going assessments of your cloud spend. Give it a try !

Botmetric Augments AWS Cost Allocation & Chargeback with New Undo & Reallocate

If you have to manage your AWS cloud budget like a champ, then your AWS cost allocation & chargeback must be perfect.  Thanks to Botmetric Cost & Governance’s Chargeback app, many AWS customers have been able to define, control, allocate, and understand their AWS cost allocation by different cost centers in their organization, while also having an ability to generate internal chargeback invoices.  

The same app is now bolstered with two new additions, namely Undo and Reallocate. These two new features further help AWS users like you manage complexities involved in treating chargebacks, especially when dealing with multiple linked accounts from a central payer account.

Why did Botmetric team build Undo and Reallocate in Chargeback?  

At Botmetric, we know how you’ve always thrived to have better tagging policies to eliminate wastage, allocate cost centers to respective teams, and allocate appropriate cost to responsible items. We also understand the fact that this cannot be achieved ALWAYS, due to those few unallocated resources (the culprit). Botmetric’s Cost & Governance resolves this problem through Chargeback. Using Chargeback,  you can allocate untagged AWS items from within the app.

Moreover, Chargeback enables you with great opportunities in strengthening cost tracking. Often, Botmetric customers allocate a lot of items. Sometimes up to 5000 items at one go. And in midst of allocating hundreds of these items it might so happen that some of the items get wrongly allocated. Human errors, you see. And, this gets its due attention only while verifying the allocated items. There comes the Oops moment!

We know it’s a facepalm moment!

via GIPHY

Have you also faced the same? Wished you had a solution for it? Well, your wish is our command. To that end, team Botmetric has developed a mechanism that helps you to undo these incorrectly allocated items.

Botmetric solves this problem in two ways:

1.Undo

With Undo, you can un-allocate items that you have mistakenly allocated while performing cost allocation. Undo operation will then re-position the item back to its original untagged/unallocated state.

Undo Incorrect Resource Allocation

2. Reallocate

With Reallocate, you can correctly allocate the wrongly allocated item. Plus, you also get an additional capability to reallocate from one cost center to another.

Reallocate incorrect resource allocation

From the above screenshot, you can see that you have the freedom to choose which cost center you want to reallocate from the drop down and hit reallocate. By doing so, you can reallocate the item from an incorrect cost center to the desired one.

Well, there’s one exception to this option. That is: you can only undo or reallocate only those items that are allocated/actioned from Botmetric platform. You cannot modify items for changes done in AWS console. Don’t wait. Explore this feature on Botmetric today. If you have not signed-up with Botmetric Cost & Governance, then we have a 14-day trial for you. If you need any assistance, just give a shout out on Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn. We’d be happy to help. 

Ace Your AWS Cost Management with New Botmetric’s Chargeback Feature

Editor’s Note: This exclusive feature launch blog post is authored by Botmetric CEO Vijay Rayapati.

How awesome would it be if you, as an AWS user, could define, control and understand the cost allocation by different cost centers in your organization, while providing an ability to generate chargeback invoices. It’s possible with the new Botmetric Cost Management & Governance application’s Chargeback module.

This Chargeback module has the same Cost Allocation and Internal Chargeback features from the earlier version of Botmetric, however, packaged in a new UI with augmented features. These features together will help you manage costs associated with  AWS infra in a smart way. Plus, you can manage budget controls better across projects and departments. More than that, users can manage complexities involved in treating chargebacks when dealing with multiple linked accounts from a central payer account. Additionally, you can gain access to many insightful reports for effective tracking and managing of AWS cloud costs.

Key benefits of the new Chargeback module in Botmetric includes:

  • Define Cost Allocation: We have implemented support for defining cost centers within your company by either department or team or business unit so you can split the overall spend into specific cost centers. This works based on your AWS tags for cost allocation and further defines a grouping within Botmetric for creating a cost centers for your business. You can have multiple centers for cost allocation in Botmetric.

Define Cost Allocation with Botmetric Cost & Governance

 

  • Control Unallocated Spend: From the Chargeback module dashboard, you can quickly identify the cost that is unallocated to any cost center in your business. This will allow you to split or allocate the cost into different cost centers and also inform your cloud team on missing tags for cost management.

 

ontrol Unallocated Spend with Botmetric Cost & Governance

 

  • Spend View within a Cost Center : We launched a drill down view so that you can understand the spend view by various AWS services within a cost center. This will allow you to inform the specific cost center teams if they are about to surpass their allocated budget for the month and let them know what is causing the increase in spend.

 

Spend View within a Cost Center

 

  • Download Chargeback and Cost Allocation Data: You can download the chargeback data for any cost center in CSV format. We also allow you to download the unallocated cost as a CSV file, so that you can share it with your IT team for inputs on how  cost should be allocated for different cost centers.

 

Download Chargeback and Cost Allocation Data

We are excited to release the general availability of enterprise cost allocation and chargeback support in Botmetric for AWS cloud. Now Botmetric customers can better manage their budgeting and internal reporting processes.

Please let us know if we can improve anything in Botmetric Chargeback module that can be more useful for your business. Do take a 14-day test drive, if you have not yet tried Botmetric.  

If you want to know several other new features available in the new release, then read the expert blog post by Botmetric Customer Success Manager, Richa Nath. For other interesting news from us, stay tuned on TwitterFacebook, and LinkedIn!

New in AWS Cost Allocation: Search Cost Items Based on Linked Accounts

Ensuring that cloud budgets are tracked and governed at the right time is key to managing AWS optimally. Thanks to our Botmetric’s smart features, many of our customers now manage their AWS cloud budgets like a champ. They continually share their experiences — and they love our Cost Analytics’ AWS Cost Allocation feature.

They even talk about how beneficial our cost allocation feature has been in many ways. Like, ensuring the proper tagging policies, tag resources that have not been properly tagged, providing an edge to allocate costs for those items for which AWS does not allow, analyze costs of resources for which tagging was not possible earlier, and much more.

On the flip side, few customers came up with a request to include searchable feature that would help them search cost items based on linked accounts. As always, we are all ears and have acted upon quickly. Voila: Introducing new search feature to easily find cost of each AWS linked accounts. By doing so, it helps AWS users delve deeper into better AWS cost management.

The Need for Searching Cost Items based on  and the Key Takeaways

Botmetric’s AWS Cost Allocation dashboard provides the summary view of the costs that have been allocated and unallocated. The unallocated costs gives an indicator of the effort needed to make the budgets up-to-date immediately. The user would then immediately want to expand the cost-items group and narrow down on the cost-item to which he/she might want to allocate a specific cost. Here, availability of a quick search box that can bring up the cost-items’ details on demand comes in handy.

AWS Cost Allocation- Linked Accounts- Botmetric

Botmetric’s Cost Management & Governance solution provides all these UI elements in the dashboard so that the user can get his/her task accomplished with less time and less human effort.

Some of the key updated features of the AWS Cost Allocation dashboard include:

  • Filter cost items for linked accounts for singular view in cost allocation of allocated/unallocated objects
  • View multiple cost details belonging to a single linked account in a single view
  • Allocate desired unallocated items to a single linked account
  • Select items and allocate up to 7500 of line count in one go

AWS Cost Allocation- Linked Accounts- Botmetric for AWS Cloud

To Wrap Up

Budgeting helps users plan contingencies and decide upon spot buying or on-demand buying of resources. It can help resource juggling before committing to purchases.Check out our latest search feature for linked accounts and update your budget allocation now. You can track our product updates here.

If you are someone who doesn’t yet have a Botmetric account, sign-up for a 14-day trial. If you want to stay-up-to-date with all of AWS and Botmetric latest news, you can follow us on twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

Key AWS Tagging Strategies to Live By

AWS Tagging Strategies helps in streamlining the cloud resources across different teams and business units. A proper tagging strategy in place is pivotal in managing hundreds and thousands of cloud resources. Especially when AWS adoption continues to grow across a business. Without a proper tagging strategy in place, it becomes very challenging as well as time-consuming, leading to several problems ranging from operational issues to unexpected cloud spends.

With the help of tags, enterprises can classify their AWS resources in different ways. For example, users can categorize the AWS resources by purpose, possessor or situation and then assign the tags.

Every tag has a key and an optional value, both of which users can define. As an AWS user, a business can define a set of tags for an account’s Amazon EC2 instances. These tags help businesses to track each instance’s owner and stack level.

AWS recommends that users work out for a set of tag keys that meet their requirements for each resource kind. Using a reliable set of tag keys, it becomes easy to manage AWS resources. Users can simply search and filter the resources based on the tags they add. The following diagram explains how AWS Tagging works.

Key AWS Tagging Strategies to Live By- Botmetric

In this example, a user has assigned two tags to each of the instances, namely Owner and Stack. And both of these have associated values.

Tags don’t have any semantic significance to Amazon EC2. Also, they are inferred firmly as a string of characters. Also, they are not automatically assigned to AWS resources.

Users can work with tags using the AWS Management Console. Also, users can work with tags using the Amazon EC2 command line interface (CLI), the AWS CLI, and the Amazon EC2 API.However, there are some restrictions to tagging. If not done carefully, tagging can go wrong and bring serious impact on the business. Some of the key restrictions , as cited by Amazon, are:

Maximum key length of the tag must be limited to 128 Unicode characters

Maximum value length of the tag must be limited to 256 Unicode characters

Maximum number of tags per resource must be within ten

Reserved prefix—aws: AWS-assigned tag names and values are automatically assigned to the aws: prefix that a user cannot assign. Note that AWS-assigned tag names do not count towards the tag limit of 10.

User-assigned tag names have the prefixed user: in the Cost Allocation Report

Each key can be used only once for each resource. If any user tries to use the same key twice on the same resource, their request is rejected

A resource cannot be tagged at the time of creation. A separate action is required to perform tagging after the resource is created

It is not possible to backdate the application of a tag

Allowed characters for tagging are letters, white space, and numbers, including special characters like + – =. _ : /

The above tagging restrictions will help in trimming unnecessary cloud spend.

How to organize resources by following a AWS tagging discipline?

The public or shared resources can be tagged. But the tags assigned to them are available only to linked AWS account and not to the other accounts sharing the resource.

Not all resources can be tagged. Rather some resources can be tagged only using API actions or the command line. The following table has information about all Amazon EC2 resources and the tagging restrictions that are relevant to them if any. Resources with tagging restrictions of “None” can be tagged with API actions, the CLI, and the console.

aws-tagging-discipline-botmetric

Botmetric’s Mantra to Enforce Best Tagging Practices

Holistic cloud cost management is what businesses are looking at, today. With years of experience and acumen in AWS, we at Botmetric have come up with key AWS Tagging strategies that must be enforced by technical teams for cost allocation and tracking. Some of these key recommendations include, but not limited to:

Define Mandatory Tags

Each resource must have at least three tags, namely BUSINESS UNIT, APPLICATION NAME, and ENVIRONMENT.

Define Optional Tags

Use optional tag, “OWNER,” to recognize specific owners for the resources like BUSINESS OWNER, TECHNICAL OWNER, etc.

Monitor Resources without Tags

Ensure there is a program in place that can monitor AWS resources for compliance with mandatory tags. Why? If any resource is found without the mandatory tag, then IT team can be notified via email with a list of resources along with their metadata. This check must be done once a day for the entire AWS account.

Shutdown Resources without Tags

Deactivate resources without tags. With a plethora of resources operating in and out, manually deactivating them becomes a daunting task. Botmetric has an automated internal policy that shuts down resources without a tag if they are present in the system for more than seven days. This is a great practice, as it can save businesses unnecessary costs involved in running unused resources. Also, it ensures compliance is being followed and carries out the necessary business process.

Configure Cost Allocation Tags

Once the tags have been defined for the resources, it’s important to enable AWS cloud cost allocation tags from the billing preferences. This ensures the billing data has selected tags. Users can rule out tags like OWNER etc. from cost allocation tracking.

To know in detail, read our blog on 5 Effective Tagging Strategies For AWS Cloud Cost Allocation

The Bottom Line

For any business, an efficient tagging and monitoring method is a significant stepping stone towards ensuring budgeting and cost compliance. To achieve optimization on cloud, designing a tagging strategy on AWS Cloud is paramount. Botmetric offers cost discovery based on tagging that can help enterprises use tags for their resources and save costs. By adhering to these AWS Tagging Strategies, businesses can achieve 360-degree governance and automation on cloud

To know more about cost discovery based on AWS Tagging, get in touch with us via Facebook, twitter, LinkedIn. We would love to share our thoughts with you. And if you are looking to quickly get started with Cost Allocation and plan out your cloud costs, sign up for a 14-day trial.