The struggle for better cloud visibility is common amongst software-as-a-service (SaaS) companies. SaaS applications are more complex than on-premise solutions by nature — there is a lot more surface area to consider.
Distributed and multi-tenant systems are inherently more complex. Distributed systems, as often found in cloud architectures, are generally scaled out horizontally much more so than traditional single instance applications. Multi-tenant systems are often scaled vertically and result in a lot more upstream and downstream clients to track.
Both patterns introduce significant difficulties in maintaining an understanding of how the underlying cloud infrastructure is being utilized by various parts of the system.
In this article, we’ll discuss how to improve that understanding by enhancing your cloud visibility.
What Is Cloud Visibility?
Cloud visibility is an organization’s ability to see and understand all activity across their SaaS applications, so they can make decisions or react to potential problems as quickly and efficiently as possible.
There are several subsets of cloud visibility. Some of these include error visibility, or why something might be going wrong; performance visibility, knowledge about whether users get requests back in a timely manner; and cloud cost visibility, arguably one of the most important — given that the last watches things that will hit your wallet!
Cloud cost visibility allows you to answer questions about the cost of running a cloud-based product so that you can keep those costs as low as possible, without sacrificing quality, and directly impacting your bottom line.
What is cloud cost visibility?
Cloud cost visibility is an organization’s ability to analyze and understand the cost of maintaining and building their SaaS technology or products. Good cloud visibility allows you to make strategic budgeting decisions across different departments.
No matter what your cloud cost goals are, you won’t be able to come to any concrete decisions unless your current spend is organized. Tags are a traditional method of organization, but they rely on manual maintenance and leave a lot of room for error.
A better and more meaningful way of organizing cloud spend is with cloud cost intelligence: cost data that’s automatically organized in a way that helps engineering connect technical decisions to business results.
CloudZero is a cloud cost intelligence platform that makes this possible. It automatically organizes your cloud costs using accurate, business-relevant dimensions (like cost per customer), even when your tags aren’t perfect.
Improving Cloud Cost Intelligence Is A Critical Step Towards Improving Cloud Visibility
Cloud cost intelligence not only helps you understand how your budget is spent, but also to better communicate to executives why money is being spent. Here’s how cloud cost visibility impacts overall cloud visibility:
1. You can see the cost of each component of your technology
It can be difficult to just answer the simple question “How much did this product cost you last month?” Many companies aren’t aware of what they’re spending month to month or even quarter to quarter.
You typically get a bill a week after the month closes, but organizing your spend using tags or business dimensions allows you to attribute your spend to specific teams or products in near real-time.
2. You can stay on top of large changes in spend
Companies routinely invest significant resources to stay on top of running and maintaining SaaS software day to day.
When you know what you’re spending and how you’re spending it, you’ll no longer have to waste your team’s time or resources examining the bills as they roll in. You can be alerted to large changes in spend automatically, as opposed to having to complete a manual review of each new invoice or receipt.
3. You can justify your spending using relevant business terms
It might be hard for a business executive to look at a bill and understand why EC2 spending rose by $2 million last quarter, but S3 costs only rose by $500,000. But, with accurate cloud cost intelligence, you can recast those numbers into relevant business terms and instead compare the changing rate of spending of Product A vs Product B.
When you can clearly tell a story around your spending — and articulate why the money you spend to maintain and improve products positively impacts a customer’s experience and ultimately, the company’s revenue — it sets the stage for more accurate and profitable business decisions.
4. You gain the ability to break down the cost of shared resources
You may have a set of machines that costs $100,000 and are used by 20 different teams. Cloud cost intelligence provides the ability to break that spend down and understand the factors driving it.
Without that visibility, you’ll be hard-pressed to investigate future cost anomalies of those shared machines, find future optimizations, and even give your teams true showback.
Improve Your Cloud Visibility
You don’t have to let the limitations of tagging hold you back from gaining better cloud visibility. CloudZero provides the cloud cost intelligence you need to understand your spend thanks to:
- Best-in-the-industry anomaly detection that requires zero setup. Don’t worry about forgetting to set up an alert or anomaly. When you use CloudZero, you get cost alerts right out of the box.
- Intelligent metric and telemetry data that breaks down costs. For example, take Kubernetes — cost management related to this (usually large) shared resource has always been a challenge. CloudZero can process Kubernetes metric data to see what groups, jobs, or components are driving spend by the hour.
- Dimensions that replace tags. This code-driven artifact allows you to build an organization system for your needs, and can recast all your spend into business-relevant terms for anyone in your organization. For example:
- A member of a finance team for a public company might need to see production vs. development costs in order to report to Wall Street costs per user, and research and development (R&D) tax credits.
- Engineering managers might want to know how much they’re spending between different teams or products.
- An individual engineer might want to know the cost of only the components they own.
With dimensions, you have infinite flexibility.
Plus, you don’t have to throw your tags in the trash if you don’t want to. Our systems simply make tagging easier, and improve your tags over time.
Ultimately, improving visibility into the cost of your SaaS products will position you to make better strategic business decisions in a fraction of the time. to see the power of CloudZero for yourself.