How to Simplify Billing & Invoicing in Multi-cloud Environments
Since the emergence of cloud services, the choice of billing options has been one of the key advantages of cloud services over on-premise deployments. Instead of investing funds in hardware infrastructure and software licenses, regardless of whether they will be used or not, cloud billing offers you a “pay-as-you-go” model by which you pay only for services you use at any point in time.
While it is an attractive payment model for customers, it can be complicated to monitor and predict costs. This is significant if you are using more than one subscription or different cloud platforms, as Managed Service Providers (MSPs) and Cloud Solution Providers (CSPs) do. In this article, we will review tools you can use to simplify your cloud billing management within multi-cloud environments.
Microsoft’s cloud offering includes numerous billing tools, applicable to different phases of your cloud deployment. With Azure Pricing Calculator you can immediately familiarize yourself with Azure prices. This tool also allows you to predict the costs of running your workloads.
For some services, prior to deployment, Azure Portal will display your estimated cost. However, you must pay close attention as estimates are often based on monthly costs for a specific service running 24/7, but do not include the costs of resources the service depends on.
After running your workloads in Azure for some time, however, you will be able to navigate to your Subscriptions blade in the portal and download invoices for the previous period. You will also be able to create and analyze more detailed dynamic reports or predictions for future usage. In addition, you can parse details to PowerBI if you want colorful dashboards and a deep cost breakdown.
There are also billing alerts or spending limits to apply to your subscriptions. Azure Advisor offers some advice for optimizing your infrastructure in terms of performance, availability, and costs and Azure Security Center can help as well.
Amazon Web Services
One of the first and most popular cloud solutions, AWS also offers you numerous billing tools. Similar to Azure, AWS provides a Simple Monthly Calculator with which you can check how much Amazon will charge to run services on their platform. Using AWS Bill, you can easily download your costs and analyze them according to service on a monthly basis.
Additionally, if you need a more detailed spending breakdown and report, AWS Cost Explorer will give you what you need. Using Quick Sight, you are able to import your billing information from AWS and gain deep insights, custom filters, dashboards, and analytics on your Amazon spending. This is not a free service, though. You will need to pay for it.
You can configure billing alarms or budgets for more control over your current spendings. AWS Trusted Advisor can monitor and collect information on your AWS infrastructure and provide you with guidelines on how to optimize your online services and manage costs more efficiently. To access all of the AWS Trusted Advisor features you need a support contract or must be an AWS Enterprise customer.
Single Pane of Glass – CloudCheckr
Among the many cloud management and monitoring features CloudCheckr offers, Cloud Cost and Expense Management provides resellers with a single interface for managing multiple cloud environments, whether they are hosted by the same or different vendors.
Our solution provides sophisticated cost allocation that gives you full visibility of cloud hosts, so you can easily predict, analyze, and automatically charge back costs across all cloud subscriptions you or your customers are using. For MSPs and CSPs, that means easily attributing cloud bills to the appropriate customers, simplifying invoicing, using programmatic bill re-rating to dramatically increase profit margins and more.
CloudCheckr offers you an extensive automation mechanism for generating reports and invoices based on tags related to cost centers, as well as internal or external user groups. This mechanism can be automated monthly, weekly, or even daily. With more than 100 best practices specifically dedicated to optimizing cloud infrastructure and billing, you can easily set up spending alerts or warning notifications to keep costs under control and accounted for.
Service providers often want to build their brand. CloudCheckr provides white label capabilities, so the provider’s logo and color scheme are shown throughout the app and on invoices generated by the app. Indeed, thousands of enterprises use CloudCheckr without knowing it, benefiting from industry-leading cloud management capabilities while only seeing their service provider’s logo and brand.
Even though cloud vendors offer you a decent set of cost management tools, it’s often cumbersome to manage costs in multi-cloud environments. This is especially true if you are a service provider. CloudCheckr gives you cost insights accessed from a single pane, moving your focus to actual cost management.