Picture the last time you were sitting at your desk trying to make sense out of the multiple cloud provider bills you just received. The amounts all change from month to month, and you can’t really compare them against each other because they all use different formats.
To say this is a confusing and frustrating situation to be in is an understatement. Perhaps you’re there now, which is why you’ve searched for advice on multi-cloud cost management.
If you’re starting to feel like enough is enough, you’re in the right place. Keep reading to get a better understanding of why multi-cloud is so complex and what you can do to make your life easier.
Before we dive into the solution, let’s take a moment to understand the problem.
Why Would A SaaS Company Use Multiple Cloud Providers In The First Place?
There are several reasons you might end up with more than one cloud provider, whether by coincidence or as part of a deliberate strategy. Here are some of the most common reasons we’ve seen that SaaS companies take a multi-cloud approach:
Your company has recently gone through a merger or an acquisition
The other company used one cloud provider and your original company used another, so when the two companies come together, you wind up with resources spread across two separate providers.
You’re undergoing a transition from one cloud provider to another
Sometimes after a merger or an acquisition, the parent company will require the acquired company to move to their chosen cloud provider.
Or, sometimes during the course of normal business operations, you may decide another provider has more appealing features or better opportunities for cost savings. Regardless of your reasons, you may eventually find yourself in a position where you have to switch providers.
Even if you try to switch cloud providers as efficiently as possible, there will always be some period of time — up to a couple of years — where you’re spread between two cloud environments. Until you get everything migrated over to your new choice, you’ll have to track costs for both at once.
You’re part of a larger company that prefers to operate with multiple cloud providers
If you have the resources to make it worthwhile, there is a certain appeal to using more than one cloud provider. You can treat your options like an a la carte menu that offers the best of all worlds on one plate, as long as you can balance the management and cost optimization challenges that come along with being multi-cloud for the long haul.
Additionally, staying multi-cloud can be part of a greater strategy.
CloudZero, for example, serves customers who use all of the major cloud providers. Therefore, we make sure we also operate on all of the major cloud environments so that we understand how each provider works and can continue to support our customers no matter where they choose to do business.
You work with one (or several) third-party service providers
The robust feature sets that you can get from a third-party service — think Kubernetes or Snowflake — are unmatched anywhere else. More than likely, your company will end up with at least one extra service that contributes to cloud costs.
What Are The Common Cost Challenges Of Using Multiple Cloud Providers?
1. Every cloud vendor handles billing differently
From the way they organize their billing data to the features and services they provide, the major cloud providers all have their own unique way of doing things. Plus, each bill may have anywhere from thousands to millions of data points that change every single month.
Understanding even one of these providers in detail is a monumental task; it takes a significant amount of cognitive effort and time to be able to dissect and make sense of a complex cloud bill. With more than one provider in the picture, this becomes even more daunting.
2. Each provider’s discount programs are different as well
If your company looks for committed use discounts, savings plans, reserved instances, spot instances, or any other savings programs, you’ll find that these are all handled differently across the major cloud providers.
You’ll have to learn to juggle the various requirements and upkeep to stay current on your savings plan commitments.
3. The effort required to manage multiple cloud providers is substantial
To put it less mildly, the workload is enormous when you’ve got more than one provider on your plate. Even if you happen to have an expert on your team who has spent years in the industry learning and mastering one or two cloud providers, the manual work involved to actually manage all of that data is more than that expert could handle.
If you aren’t fortunate enough to have an experienced team member in-house, you’re in for an even bigger challenge.
The reason it’s so complicated is because you’ll need to take all that disparate data from each provider — the cloud bills, the discount plans, and all the rest — and stitch it together in a way that is understandable and actionable.
You’ll ideally want to combine everything into one single view, so you don’t have to switch back and forth between multiple dashboards to manage your data.
If you don’t combine it all together, you run the risk of overlooking data discrepancies, forgetting to normalize data that’s been presented in two different formats, failing to see patterns that would have been evident with a big-picture view, and making numerous other mistakes.
How Do You Assemble All Of Your Multi-Cloud Cost Data Into One View That Makes Sense?
To give a quick review, the main problems you’ll run into when managing multi-cloud costs by yourself include:
- Different data formats with no normalization between them
- Separate dashboards for each cloud provider
- Various discount programs, each with different qualifications and names
- Complex cloud bills that look different every month
- Too much data to reasonably understand and evaluate manually
To solve these problems, your first option is to build an automated solution that can pull data from each provider, combine that data into one comprehensive report, and ideally compile everything into an easy-to-understand visual format.
That last point is important if you plan to have multiple team members interacting with your solution and you don’t want to provide hours of training for them to understand what they’re looking at.
Building your own solution is absolutely possible. It will take months or years, however, and will require a dedicated team. This isn’t something a handful of engineers can put together with a couple weeks of effort.
If you’d rather skip the hassle of building your own, we’d recommend buying a solution that already does everything you need and is ready to use today.
CloudZero Solve Mutli-Cloud Challenges And Combines All Of Your Spend Into One Comprehensive View
The CloudZero platform gives you an instant solution to every problem we’ve mentioned so far. That means you can buy a ready-made solution that gets you up and running in less than an hour without having to reinvent the wheel and build your own custom solution.
Here’s how CloudZero works:
First, we collect and organize all spend data from each cloud provider. Since all providers format their data differently, we also automatically normalize the data so you can compare apples to apples instead of having to manually convert to oranges and bananas.
That means you don’t have to understand the differences between Azure, AWS, GCP, and all of your third-party services. All the heavy lifting to convert data from their disparate sources into a centralized format is done for you behind the scenes.
Next, we pipe that data to one central dashboard, where you can view it in intuitive graphical representations.
Lastly, we provide a way to customize your data and dive deep into the insights. You can break your costs down into customized buckets and track all of the unique metrics that make sense within the context of your business.
If you want to see how your costs for a particular customer change from month to month or keep track of opportunities for savings plans, for example, you can do those things with just a few clicks.
It’s important to understand that even through all of the gathering, normalizing, and organizing of these millions of data points, you’ll never lose access to any data. You can always separate your views and look at the details of each individual cloud provider. The point is, you can look at your data any way you want to, without having to perform any of these conversions manually.