As the AWS services portfolio continues to expand, Enterprises look to Managed Service Providers (MSPs) and Resellers for critical guidance to enable and drive value through cloud computing. Cloudar, an AWS Advanced Consulting Partner and Channel Reseller, is one of the key service providers delivering this value to Enterprise in the EMEA region. Cloudar has seen its practice expand geometrically as it provides expert advice to its customers on everything from core cost management issues to complex architectural questions.
For us at CloudCheckr, we are proud to provide one of the underlying tools used by Cloudar to help scale their delivery capabilities. We recently connected with Cloudar’s Co-Founder, Bart Van Hecke, to understand how CloudCheckr’s unified governance platform has helped the MSP grow their AWS practice, recognize operational efficiencies and savings, and offer greater customer value.
Q: Thanks for chatting with us, Bart. Can you tell us a bit about Cloudar, for those that aren’t familiar?
A: Cloudar is a team of cloud architects that offers solutions for a range of enterprise businesses using Amazon Web Services (AWS). We design, build, and operate cloud environments, focusing solely on AWS. Our consulting services help our customers maximize their investment in the AWS cloud, to see the most value and benefit from their cloud investment. We have a large group of enterprise clients, but we are not enterprise exclusive. We are a technical team and look for ways that we can leverage our expertise to help AWS users both large and small.
Q: As we know, AWS Reserved Instances (RIs) are a powerful solution to reduce expenses. How does Cloudar leverage CloudCheckr to help?
A: Following the RI best practices is a critical feature we use daily. Like many AWS users, we primarily use EC2 RI. However, we also like CloudCheckr because it supports our ‘edge’ cases of reserved DynamoDB Capacity and Redshift nodes as well. Getting clear insights into how instances are being used, and how we (and our customers) could save money through purchasing RI is an essential step to effective cost management. For example, detecting EC2 underutilization, idle instances, and unused RI instances helps us see which purchases need to be shifted to a new AZ, resized, or even sold on the RI marketplace. We use CloudCheckr’s RI rebalancer automates this entire process. It will even switch 3 year convertible RIs to a new family to help ensure we always maintain optimal usage of our RI inventory.
Q: What advice do you have for others looking to start using RIs?
A: Consider buying your RI’s on a payer account level. This simplifies management across a large environment as your inventory, usage, and pending expirations will all be identifiable in a single account. Importantly, there is no downside to this from a usage perspective: AWS will automatically spread RI benefits across all of your linked accounts. We then use CloudCheckr for the insight into which account is using which RI. It even enables individual mapping to ensure completely reliable chargeback and invoicing. We also leverage CloudCheckr’s Account Families, so accounts belonging to the same family will benefit from RI purchases bought by other accounts in the same family.
Q: How does Cloudar handle invoicing and chargebacks for its clients?
A: We use the Custom Charges features to add and adjust charges to our clients. We also use the Business Support fee feature to chargeback AWS Business support based upon individual client usage. With CloudCheckr, we’re able to automate our analytics to provide insight into our AWS spend and chargebacks across business units and/or customers. The added visibility ensures our invoicing is as simple and accurate as possible.
Q: Security and compliance in the cloud is another challenge many organizations face. For other MSPs, can you describe how you’ve approached security and audits across your environment?
A: External audits require us to be able to report on all kinds of behavior in the AWS accounts we manage. For instance, if a security breach has happened, we need to know exactly who, what, where, and when it was caused. The automated alerting can even be tied to Lambda functions. CloudCheckr provides us deep insights into what’s happening in all our AWS accounts, and can represent this in a human-readable way; it’s perfect to demonstrate that every resource, access, or API call is continuously monitored.
Q: What is the biggest difference you’ve seen in working with CloudCheckr over other AWS tools?
A: We think it is a much more comprehensive platform. Other vendors are very cost-centric, and ignore the more sophisticated needs of MSP and their enterprise clients. Also, and equally important, the support is exceptional. We receive consistently excellent response when we have questions and, as AWS evolves and we encounter a specific challenge with cloud management, we send our feature requests to CloudCheckr. It is amazing to see features implemented just a few weeks later; for example, suppressing existing charges and eliminating a minimum charge for AWS Business Support charges has helped us gain visibility into our cost management processes.
Cloudar Grows Their AWS Practice with CloudCheckr
Cloudar notes that, while the impact is dynamic and multifaceted, using CloudCheckr has saved customer anywhere from 20-40% on the AWS usage costs. Charging customers with official AWS prices—without uplift or margin—has been a unique selling point for Cloudar, with cost optimization consultation adding even more value for their customers. The re-rating and RI translation enables Cloudar to continue to profitably continue this model. We’re looking forward to seeing how Cloudar continues to leverage the CloudCheckr platform to optimize their cost, utilization, and security management.
Reach out to one of our cloud experts to discuss how CloudCheckr can help your business unify and govern your AWS practice.