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In part one of this post we looked at startups which had found their AWS costs spiraling out of control and had concluded that self-managed infrastructure was more cost effective.   We discussed the two big reasons that this generally happens—namely lack of accountability on the cloud and lack of understanding of the total cost of ownership of self-managed infrastructure.

So, in part 2 I’d like to talk about how to ensure accountability in the cloud. If the answer to the first question, “Do you have good control over AWS provisioning?” is “no” then part of the solution is accountability. We’ve already said that the unlimited scale and easy provisioning of cloud IaaS is a dramatic benefit while also being a danger to cost overruns.

Amazon Web Services recently rolled out tag substring search on the AWS Management Console. What is this? Well, to understand it we first have to understand what tagging is. Amazon allows customers to apply billing tags to any resource running in the cloud. Resources might include a specific server (EC2 instance), a storage bucket on S3 or even an elastic load balancer. Billing tags can be used by customers to understand which parts of their AWS bill were generated by specific lines of business, geographic locations, individuals, etc.

Billing tags are a great way to establish accountability and give your departments budgets in the cloud while still allowing them to enjoy easy provisioning and the agility. New substring search allows greater detail and reporting.

If your company happens to be a legal or other professional firm that bills its clients for time and expenses, Blue Sentry’s proprietary billing application can meter your cloud computing charges by client so that you may bill your clients for the computing charges related to their matters. Even if billing clients for cloud computing is not your goal, understanding the costs associated with each client can help you understand the performance of your firm, its offices, and its partners in better detail.

However you apply metering to your cloud computing, it is a great way to establish accountability without limiting your firm’s agility. The old saying about freedom coming with responsibility holds true in cloud computing just as it does in every area of life. In the case of cloud, freedom without the responsibility can make the cost of cloud untenable, but if you find the right accountability you can have your proverbial cake and eat it too.

Blue Sentry is an advanced-tier Amazon Web Services (AWS) consulting partner specializing in application and data migrations, expert managed services and virtual desktops. Blue Sentry serves clients globally, with operations in North Carolina and South Carolina.

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