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Guide: How To Overcome Tagging And Accelerate Cloud Cost Allocation

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Case Study

How Malwarebytes Improves Cloud Cost Efficiency and Measures the Cost of Their Products

Use Cases
Cost Aware Engineering, Unit Cost Analysis
Project Leads Brian Morehead, VP of Cloud Operations, Shawn LoPresto, DevOps Architect


As a leading provider of advanced endpoint protection and remediation solutions, Malwarebytes delivers constant innovation to outpace bad actors and provides superior levels of cyber protection to its users.

With several development teams working on different projects, engineers were working rapidly across several environments — releasing new features and functionality.

Malwarebytes builds their products on AWS, which helps their engineering team move quickly — with the infrastructure and tools they need right at their fingertips. Like most SaaS companies, it’s also a top component of cost. The company understood that delivering competitive products with a financially-sound business model required cost data for its current and future cloud investments.  

Shawn LoPresto, DevOps Architect for Malwarebytes, understood the risk of unchecked cost and knew they needed a way to proactively control it, without introducing any gating factors to engineering teams.

“The cloud can be like a playground without the parents watching. If you aren't careful, you can end up with a lot of unused resources. We wanted to avoid that risk while also ensuring we didn't create bottlenecks that would slow things down," says Shawn.

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At the same time, Malwarebytes leadership wanted more insights into infrastructure costs, which were increasing. This was a positive sign of the company's growth in adding new customers, but they needed a way to tie the costs to specific products and business initiatives.

The Malwarebytes Engineering Team was taking proactive steps to track and manage costs. They had an aggressive tagging policy with rules in place to ensure procedures were followed. The DevOps team also had an existing cost management tool that allowed them to report on their AWS bill.

“The problem was that we were spending a lot of time — up to 10 hours a week — drilling through those reports and communicating with the various teams to track budgets and help them understand their spend,” explains Shawn.

Since some of their infrastructure was shared across multiple products, but had the same tag, it was difficult to identify which of those tags made up the cost of a particular product. The resource-level reporting that AWS and their cost tool provided did not help them align costs with specific products.

One of the biggest challenges with their existing toolset was that it wasn’t designed specifically for engineering end-users, which made it challenging to distribute cost data beyond a central group of users. As a team that has fully embraced DevOps culture and practices, they knew they needed a way to apply the same principals to cost optimization.



Shawn and his team adopted CloudZero to help attribute AWS costs to specific products and decentralize cost management. They immediately gained granular visibility into their cloud spend and could confidently explain their AWS expenses to the executive team.

"We immediately got a better understanding of how much we spend on infrastructure that drives our products," says Brian Morehead, VP of Cloud Operations at Malwarebytes.

“Our previous solution was good at looking at resource tags — like every cost solution is — but it was CloudZero that helped us to easily and accurately map cost to our products. We can also better understand our unit costs,” says Shawn.

With CloudZero in place, the DevOps teams were able to quickly pinpoint specific services that they thought were cost-effective but were actually a big portion of their overall costs. They tackled those issues first to reduce costs.

Shawn LoPresto

Our previous solution was good at looking at resource tags — like every cost solution is — but it was CloudZero that helped us to easily and accurately map cost to our products. We can also better understand our unit costs.

Shawn LoPresto | DevOps Architect

“CloudZero quickly enabled us to put a laser focus on what we needed to address,” explains Shawn.

CloudZero has also given the Malwarebytes team the confidence to work quickly and experiment, knowing that unanticipated costs will be caught quickly, before they can balloon out of control.

“Before CloudZero, we had a weekend where somebody left a debug log on, which led to some pretty significant costs. That kind of thing doesn’t happen anymore,” shares Brian.

With CloudZero’s anomaly alert feature, the engineering team no longer has to worry about retroactively catching these mistakes. “We now get alerts directly in our internal chat tool channels — CloudZero notifies the teams responsible for a product when there's an anomaly in costs. We didn't have that visibility as rapidly before,” explains Brian.



A deeper understanding of the reasons behind the costs

CloudZero helped the Malwarebytes Engineering Team understand why their cloud costs were increasing and empowered them with the data to make informed decisions.

"CloudZero has helped us become extremely cost efficient and gives us the insights to effectively manage our cloud investments," says Brian.

CloudZero has helped the team to better understand where they might have bloat in their cloud and has given them the data insight needed to optimize those areas.

"We get a lot of useful information from CloudZero with the unit cost metrics we obtain on a daily basis. It has also enabled our product teams to see if our unit costs are going up or down and to understand the costs for the respective products," says Brian. 

"The team can now confidently state whether it costs more to deliver a product than it used to, and why. CloudZero enables us to have constructive conversations about how to efficiently design new features and products as we continue to innovate and grow as a company," says Brian.


Brian Morehead

CloudZero enables us to have constructive conversations about how to efficiently design new features and products as we continue to innovate and grow as a company.

Brian Morehead | VP of Cloud Operations

Improved cost communication between the finance team and business partners

CloudZero has enabled Shawn and his team to make cost data available to the finance team and business partners without giving people access to their master billing account.

"Before adopting CloudZero, monthly cost forecasting requests from the finance team would require time consuming analysis of our AWS costs," shares Brian.

The forecasting capabilities available in CloudZero have helped the team resolve this problem. "Our finance partners can now directly log into CloudZero so we can review the costs and predictions together. This data and visibility has improved the quality and focus of our expense planning conversations," explains Brian.


A shared approach to cost management

CloudZero’s anomaly detection feature has been a big hit at Malwarebytes. It has helped the team accurately allocate costs so they can effectively communicate cost abnormalities to teams.

"With CloudZero, our teams are now empowered to make decisions that are mindful of the impact on costs and to share responsibility in managing the expense," says Brian.

CloudZero’s intuitive design has also helped the team leads tremendously since there’s no need to train engineers on how to use the software.

“One of the big selling points of CloudZero is that it was built for engineers. CloudZero is intuitive enough that our engineers are able to go in there, self-serve, and understand exactly what they're looking at,” explains Shawn.

Shawn LoPresto

CloudZero is intuitive enough that our engineers are able to go in there, self-serve, and understand exactly what they're looking at.

Shawn LoPresto | DevOps Architect

Saved 10 hours a week in cost management time

With CloudZero in place, the DevOps team leads no longer have to spend hours drilling into reports and having unproductive conversations about their cloud bill.  

“Cloud cost is now a very small portion of my day — and by very small, I mean I don't have to think about it anymore,” says Shawn, adding “I always dreamed about a solution that can take me out of the picture and that's why I think we landed at CloudZero.”

Since engineering teams now have visibility into cost data and can get feedback in CloudZero on how their decisions affect cost, it has given them autonomy and freed up time for other business activities.

“CloudZero has really changed the way we think about cost. It decentralized our cost management and put the power into the hands of our engineers,” says Brian.



100% Cloud Cost Allocation (Guaranteed)

See for yourself how CloudZero can transform your cloud spend into business dimensions you care about.

  • Organize cloud costs without perfect tagging
  • Measure COGS, unit cost, cost per customer, and more
  • Align teams around a common cost language
  • Empower engineers to see the cost impact of their work

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