August 3, 2021

Introducing Intelligent Cloud Cost Management

Table of Contents

Key takeaway

Harness Cloud Cost Management now delivers intelligent cloud cost management, providing complete cost transparency across engineering and finance with robust business intelligence (BI), and the ability to reduce wasted cloud costs by up to 75% with Intelligent Cloud AutoStopping and ML-based recommendations.

Not A Novel Problem - A Critical One

For years, it’s been common knowledge that organizations regularly overspend on cloud by about 35%. While the problem of managing cloud costs isn’t itself new, therein lies the problem - the problem isn’t new, but the solutions to the problem may come off as stagnant.

Tooling vs. Culture

Let’s talk about the state of tooling for a moment. While there are a number of good solutions out there, if we look at how cloud cost management practices are maturing, they often fall behind the curve. Indeed, tooling is not changing as quickly as cloud cost management practices! The next frontier is to make it “boring” or as automated and intelligent as possible to alleviate as many of the tasks as possible. This will lead to cloud cost savings.

Intelligent Cloud Cost Management - Visibility
Visibility - the foundation of cloud cost management.

In addition to having the right tooling in place, enabling cultural change within an organization is a critical component of any cloud cost management solution. In 2019, the FinOps Foundation was founded, arising from repeated customer need for an open source group that supported the growing practice of FinOps, or Cloud Financial Operations. FinOps has rapidly grown as a culture, a job title, and as a methodology, not unlike the growth of DevOps. In under 3 years, the FinOps Foundation now represents over 1,500 companies, demonstrating the shift to repeatable and scalable cloud financial management as a core business practice.

Where as few as five years ago cloud cost management was largely a top-down function stemming from finance teams, it has grown to include engineering owners as well. The FinOps role itself is a cross-functional one between finance and engineering teams. And because engineers are the driver of costs, it’s the case that companies are pushing more of the responsibility to manage costs on them. But this is one more responsibility to add onto their long laundry list, and so simplifying bottom-up cloud cost management becomes important to enable engineers to be effective.

This graphic outlines the top challenges for FinOps practitioners today:

FinOps Challenges

Old Tools Don’t Solve New Problems

To solve these problems today, companies are trying to leverage their existing cloud cost management solutions, which were primarily built to support finance and financial management/FinOps teams. 

These tools generally were not architected to work in an engineering context, and can make it difficult for engineers to successfully take on responsibility for managing costs. This leaves both engineers and FinOps practitioners having to rely on multiple tools and methodologies to effectively manage their cloud costs, which creates inefficiencies and can leave significant cost savings on the table.

Achieving Cloud Cost Optimization in Organizations

Across an organization, these things are important with regards to cloud cost management:

  • Achieving predictability in cloud costs.
  • Top-to-bottom transparency on cloud costs, providing visibility to engineers, budget owners, financial management, and executives.
  • Accurately allocating cloud costs to appropriate cost centers and budget owners.
  • Creating governance and driving cultural change around cloud cost management best practices.
  • Automated guardrails to minimize unexpected cost spikes and budget overruns.
  • Maintaining highly performant applications and services while being cost-efficient.

The Solution

While existing tools may serve some purposes well, a modern and intelligent cloud cost management solution needs to solve three key use cases in order to address the outlined problems.

  1. Cost Transparency - There should be visibility of cloud costs across every layer of the organization, from executives to developers. All stakeholders should be able to understand cloud costs in the context that is relevant to them.
  2. Cost Optimization - Organizations want to live up to the promise of the cloud - paying only for what they use. Organizations regularly spend too much with their cloud providers and they want to bring down the costs to only what they need to pay for.
  3. Cost Governance - Creating guardrails around cloud costs, essentially creating processes to ensure that costs stay under control.

Let’s take a look at how Harness Cloud Cost Management (CCM) tackles the use cases of transparency, optimization, and governance.

Cost Transparency

From the CFO to the engineer, CCM provides contextually relevant visibility into cloud costs so that they can be understood at any level of the organization, from high-level business intelligence to the individual resource level. 

Costs across AWS, GCP, Azure, and Kubernetes (K8s) are all easily accessible, and using Cloud Cost Business Intelligence the data can be presented for any necessary scenario across engineers, budget owners, financial management, or executives.

Cost Optimization

Implementing cost savings shouldn’t be tedious for engineers. For manual cost savings recommendations across K8s workloads and nodes, Harness provides built-in validation and cost vs. performance customization so engineers can skip straight to implementation. And with Intelligent Cloud AutoStopping, engineers can automate idle resource management across AWS, GCP, Azure, and K8s without taking on any risk. 

In scenarios where cloud costs unexpectedly spike, CCM has FinOps and engineering teams covered with anomaly detection, which surfaces issues and their origins as soon as they happen, so customers can avoid pricey cost snowballs they won’t see until the end of the month.

Cost Governance

Creating cost predictability requires process, policy, and collaboration. Tagging resources to create visibility is a big pain point for customers that CCM obviates. With cloud budgeting software and forecasting capabilities, Harness CCM keeps teams accountable for their spend and helps them to proactively avoid budget overruns. 

Intelligent Cloud Cost Management Includes Transparency, Optimization, and Governance
Use cases for Harness Cloud Cost Management

Solving Practitioner Problems

Together, Harness layers intelligence into these three core pillars to help teams to alleviate the problems identified in the aforementioned graphic:

  • Getting engineers to take action - Cutting down the effort required for an engineer to implement an optimization by surfacing the most important information as it’s needed. In other cases, this means automating menial tasks like turning off compute instances that can rack up big bills over time.
  • Accurate forecasting - Aligning cost centers to budgets and providing an accurate forecasting model that helps budget owners understand how they’re trending, and when they need to take action.
  • Reducing waste or unused resources - Providing tailored recommendations for where to optimize the infrastructure based on idle or unallocated resources. Using Cloud AutoStopping to automate detection and shutdown of idle resources to minimize wastage.
  • Container costs - Visibility into container costs across all cloud providers and Kubernetes, showing utilized, idle, and unallocated costs. Recommendations at the Node and Workload level to optimize container costs.
  • Aligning Finance to tech teams - Using Cloud Cost Business Intelligence and Perspectives to create cost transparency across the organization. Doing Budgeting & Forecasting to get teams on the same page about cost expectations vs. reality. Enforcing cost management policies at the infrastructure level to avoid issues altogether.
What a practitioner needs to know, at a glance.

Harness CCM was built with the intention of creating collaborative cost management culture, bringing together finance, engineering, and FinOps to solve the daily challenges of managing cloud costs. Harness CCM uses intelligence to further break down those silos and simplify cloud cost management for any stakeholder involved, whether they are responsible for maintaining clear cost visibility, implementing cost savings, or for ensuring a healthy run rate of cloud costs.

With intelligent cloud cost management, Harness empowers customers to get more value out of their cloud, with less effort.

Harness: An “Intelligent” Approach

While there are a number of good cloud cost management solutions available today, where Harness separates from the pack is in bringing intelligence and automation to the party.

More specifically, here is how Harness Cloud Cost Management differs from other solutions on the market:

  • Automatically shuts down idle VMs and containers, and dynamically runs them on spot instances with no interruptions, reducing costs by up to 75%. 
  • Provides deep Kubernetes cost visibility & root cost analysis, and recommends ways to optimize idle/unallocated cloud spend, making containers a first-class citizen in cloud cost management.
  • Intelligently achieve cost attribution, showback and chargeback by mapping organizational hierarchies to teams and projects with a modern BI experience, ultimately driving accountability.
AutoStopping Rules
Intelligence and automation for idle cost savings.

How To Get Started

To get started with Harness Cloud Cost Management, sign up for a demo and a Harness specialist will get you going. You’ll quickly see how easy it is to get more out of your cloud, with less effort.

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