February 4, 2022

Kubecost Alternatives to Consider for Cloud Cost Optimization

Table of Contents

Key takeaway

Why do so many cloud buyers and cloud finop practioners look for tools that can monitor and provide visibility into cloud infrastructure dynamically? There are several reasons for this, the most prominent of which is the significant cost implications.

While there are a variety of tools available for teams to use, the right choice ultimately comes down to the company’s needs. As companies advance their cloud management strategies and organizational cultures around responsibility for cloud costs, tools that make it easy to involve teams at any level of the organization become increasingly crucial.

Are you seeking a Kubecost substitute? We deconstruct Kubecost alternatives so that you may weigh and evaluate all the possible cloud costs management tools. Let's start analyzing the tools that will help you meet your cloud budgets.

Introduction to Kubecost

Let's take a quick peek at Kubecost before diving deeper into the various alternatives.

Kubecost provides real-time cost visibility and insights for teams using Kubernetes, helping you continuously reduce your cloud costs. 

  • Kubecost allows you to see allocated spend across all native Kubernetes concepts.
  • Unified cloud cost monitoring—all services from AWS, GCP, and Microsoft Azure are supported.
  • Kubecost automatically generates insights you can use to save 30-50% or more on your infrastructure spend, without exposing your private information.
  • Real-time alerting functionality and recurring reports.
  • Built on an open-source platform. Kubecost began as an open-source project with the goal of giving small engineering teams access to great cost visibility. As a result, the solution is tightly integrated with the open source cloud native ecosystem, e.g. Kubernetes, Prometheus, and Grafana.

You may learn more about Kubecost by reading about it.

Kubecost Pricing

Kubecost is available in three different plans: team, business, and enterprise to optimize costs of your cloud infrastructure.

Team: This is the free plan. This plan includes 1 cluster, no size restriction, 15-day metric retention, cost monitoring, cost allocation, and more.

Business: $449 per month for a business. This plan includes everything in the Free plan plus unlimited clusters, 30-day metric retention, saved reports, team updates & notifications, business support, and more.

Enterprise: You should talk to the sales team about this. Pricing is determined based on your requirements and usage needs.

Everything in the Business plan is included, plus a unified multi-cluster view, unlimited metric retention, custom integrations, SSO / SAML, dedicated enterprise support, and more.

There are no limits on the number of users, no infrastructure data shared, and open core software for all the plans.

Read here for more details.

Kubecost Architecture

Below are the major components deployed with the Kubecost Helm chart, excluding certain Enterprise components such as durable storage:

  1. Kubecost Cost-Analyzer Pod
    a. Frontend -- runs Nginx and handles routing to Kubecost backend + Prometheus/Grafana.
    b. Kubecost server -- backend for API calls.
    c. Cost-model -- provides cost allocation calculations and metrics, both reads and writes to Prometheus.
  2. Prometheus
    a. Prometheus server -- time-series data store for cost & health metrics.
    b. Kube-state-metrics -- provides Kubernetes API metrics, e.g. resource requests.
    c. Node-exporter -- provides node-level utilization metrics for right-sizing recommendations and cluster utilization [Optional].
    d. Pushgateway -- provides the ability for users to push new metrics to Prometheus [Optional].
    e. Alertmanager -- used for custom alerts [Optional].
  3. Network costs -- optional DaemonSet for collecting network metrics (learn more).
  4. Grafana -- provides supporting dashboards for Kubecost product.

Today, the core Kubecost product can be run with just components 1, 3a, and 3b.

See an overview of core components in this diagram:

Infrastructure Diagram

Enterprise Architecture Overview

The most common implementation of durable storage in the Kubecost application is with Thanos. Below is a high-level reference for the required components. More information on each Thanos component can be found here.

Infrastructure With Thanos

Evaluation Criteria

Cloud cost management has become an important topic for all your cloud providers these days, and it's the new requirement for any software company. In 2020, Gartner predicted that the public cloud market would grow to $257.9B for the year. That means companies were projected to collectively waste $90.8B in public cloud spend. The public cloud providers aren't likely to complain, but engineers and company finances most certainly are.

The most obvious and compelling reason to reduce your cloud costs is to keep your cloud charge as low as possible. This article will assist you in evaluating some of the alternatives that can help you overcome some of the cloud cost management issues that you may be experiencing with Kubecost.

At Harness, we’ve found that cloud cost management challenges primarily fall into the three use cases below. This post is written keeping those parameters in mind. These use cases will also help you determine cloud cost control strategy for your organization.

Cloud Cost Governance: There should be guardrails put in place around cloud costs, essentially creating processes that ensure costs stay under control.

Cloud Cost Optimization: Organizations regularly spend too much with their cloud providers and they want to bring down costs to pay only for what they need/use. They need to optimize cloud-related costs.

Cloud 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.

Apart from the use cases listed above, coverage and support for multiple cloud providers are also critical. Most enterprises now use various cloud providers in their environment, making cloud infrastructure complex. This complex cloud infrastructure makes the process of determining cloud usage costs across the environment much more difficult. They'll probably need a hybrid cloud cost management system that can also handle this complexity.

Having the visibility into cloud costs helps in:

  • Cloud migration planning.
  • Determining cloud excess capacity.
  • Understanding cloud resource usage, container costs.
  • Appointing cost center managers.
  • Avoiding costly cloud breaches.
  • Defining comprehensive cloud boundaries.
  • Reducing infrastructure costs.
  • Optimizing costs using recommendations, which is an important pillar of transforming the businesses using cloud financial management solutions.

Let’s Explore Kubecost Alternatives

Sort through the tools listed below to find the best fit for your requirements to track cloud spend. In other terms, the cloud optimization tool can be referred to as a cloud management platform. These tools' dashboards can be used as a cloud optimization portal.

AWS Cost Explorer

AWS Cost Explorer provides a high-level overview of your AWS cloud costs in an intuitive interface. As the name implies, AWS Cost Explorer is only for AWS cloud users. 

You can expect to understand overall costs fairly well. You can quickly create custom reports to analyze cost and usage data to reduce AWS costs. Other visibility is achievable, but requires thorough tagging, and the tool is not designed for non-finance contexts. Forecasting can help you plan for the future by giving you a better understanding of your future costs and usage.

Kubecost Alternatives: AWS Cost Explorer


  1. Free within the AWS Cost Explorer interface.
  2. Offers hourly granularity and good visibility with tagging.
  3. Supports a variety of build agents with different resource allocations.
  4. Allows users to set budgets and see cost forecasts.


  1. Only for AWS—Kubernetes costs outside of ECS and EKS aren’t included.
  2. Add-on services, like anomaly detection, aren’t included natively and cost extra.
  3. No visibility into utilized, idle, or unallocated costs.
  4. Tagging is required.

CloudHealth by VMware

Founded in 2012, CloudHealth was acquired by VMware in 2018 in an effort to continue building on their cloud-based services. CloudHealth was designed for Finance teams and provides good governance and reporting capabilities. It is good for finance teams, but not great for engineering teams. 


  1. Good visibility when tag hygiene is followed closely.
  2. Supports all major cloud providers and hybrid cloud users.
  3. Good governance capabilities built for top down cloud cost management.
  4. Allows users to set budgets and see cost forecasts.


  1. Anomaly detection is offered, but users must manually identify anomalous spikes.
  2. Recommendations do not include Kubernetes resources.
  3. Not conducive to getting granular or bottom up visibility, focusing heavily on reporting and governance—not built well for folks outside of that niche group to use.
  4. Tagging is required.

Google Cloud Billing

Google Cloud Billing, as the name suggests, only works within the Google Cloud Platform. As with other cloud-specific cost tools, it was made with Finance teams in mind, not engineers. It does offer hourly updates, which is nice, and good visibility once you tag resources appropriately. However, Kubernetes costs are limited to resources within GKE.


  1. Gives Finance teams good point-in-time views into costs without the nitty gritty engineers want to see.
  2. Provides cost recommendations for GCP services.
  3. Allows users to set budgets and see cost forecasts.


  1. No visibility into utilized, idle, and unallocated costs.
  2. Not a good candidate for multi-cloud setups.
  3. No anomaly detection, leading to potential cost spikes with no recourse.

Harness Cloud Cost Management

Harness Cloud Cost Management (CCM) is a simplified cloud cost management tool for FinOps, Infrastructure, and Engineering teams, providing deep views into costs without any tagging. Additionally, it offers features unique to the industry, such as Recommendations, Cloud Cost Business Intelligence, and Intelligent Cloud AutoStopping, which saves customers up to 75% on their cloud bill. It also provides complete root cost analysis, and granular visibility into cloud spend—including all forms of Kubernetes. CCM is suitable for complex/hybrid cloud infrastructure that includes AWS, Azure, GCP, and Kubernetes. CCM is the perfect tool for both internal and external customers. As far as Kubecost alternatives go, Harness CCM is a good choice for its focus on Kubernetes.

Kubecost Alternatives: Harness Cloud Cost Management


  1. Built with strong focus on Kubernetes costs, providing unparalleled views into granular cloud costs without requiring tagging.
  2. Provides great cloud costs optimization opportunities.
  3. Provides Cloud Cost Business Intelligence and Intelligent Cloud AutoStopping for smart cloud cost management.
  4. Able to link cloud events, like a deployment, to its associated cost.
  5. Allows users to set budgets and see cost forecasts.
  6. Supports all major cloud providers, multi-cloud setups, and hybrid cloud.


  1. Compute instance rightsizing is not available.
  2. May necessitate cultural change within an organization with regards to responsibility for cloud costs to get the full benefits of the product.
  3. RBAC is not implemented yet. 

Azure Cost Management

Azure Cost Management, perhaps surprisingly, is able to provide visibility into AWS spend via Cloudyn—that’s right, it’s not only for Azure, though we wouldn’t use it if we were solely on the AWS cloud. It boasts business intelligence capabilities thanks to PowerBI. It also allows you to set budgets, get insights into forecasted spend, and receive recommendations on potential savings opportunities. However, Azure Cost Management lacks desirable features such as anomaly detection, What-If Analysis, and Kubernetes utilization visibility—and you’ll end up doing math in order to figure out realized savings vs potential savings.


  1. Built for Azure, but can surface costs in AWS as well (though we wouldn’t use it if we were solely on the AWS cloud)
  2. Offers recommendations and optimization opportunities at no cost to Azure users.
  3. Can create powerful BI views to slice and dice cloud cost information for any context.
  4. Allows users to set budgets and see cost forecasts.


  1. Requires pristine tagging in order to get granular visibility into costs. 
  2.  Lacks basic features, requires time coming up with workarounds.
  3. No visibility into utilized, idle, or unallocated costs —and no anomaly detection.


Spot, built with engineering teams in mind, focuses more on active cloud cost management than transparency and governance, despite the fact that both are required to gain a complete picture of cloud cost management. Spot does a nice job, but there's room for improvement, which we're confident they'll address in the future.


  1. Offers anomaly detection, ensuring cost spikes are addressed immediately.
  2. Automates savings with spot orchestration.
  3. Actively manages your cloud and provides visibility into spend.
  4. Allows users to see cost forecasts relative to their spend, but does not map to budgets.


  1. Requires tagging, lacks filtering and grouping options for Kubernetes clusters.
  2. Unable to retrieve context into cloud events—no access to CD pipelines to unearth this information.
  3. No views into utilized, idle, and unallocated costs—and basic transparency use case support.

Apptio Cloudability

Cloudability is geared towards Finance and FinOps teams. They provide some good ways to get an understanding of costs, but only provide basic optimization capabilities.

Kubecost Alternatives: Apptio Cloudability


  1. Offers Anomaly Detection that uses user-defined thresholds to find spikes in costs and alerts the end user.
  2. Provides cost recommendations within cloud providers (not Kubernetes).
  3. Allows users to set budgets for specified contexts and provides cost forecasts relative to budgets.


  1. Not a good solution for hybrid cloud users as it doesn’t provide hybrid visibility.
  2. Only provides views into utilized instances, no idle or unallocated visibility.
  3. Requires tagging to provide granular cost visibility and to do cost allocation.


CloudZero is a SaaS platform offering real-time cost anomaly and waste detection to optimize cloud costs and prevent accidental overspend.


  1. Allocate 100% of your spend in hours.
  2. Suitable for engineering, finance, and FinOps teams.
  3. Provides visibility into the costs without tagging requirements.


  1.  Measure, monitor, and optimize cloud spend only on AWS. 
  2. Unable to provide recommendations to optimize cloud resources.
  3. Unable to set budgets.


Overall, Yotascale is a powerful cloud cost management application with nearly all the desired features. It doesn’t require tagging and it offers good visibility—as long as you’re in AWS. That’s right, Yotascale only supports AWS as of today. It’s not an option for users on GCP or Azure—or multi-cloud. But, for AWS users, Yotascale provides a great Engineering experience.


  1. Provides anomaly detection, alerting, and cost recommendations.
  2. Visibility into AWS is pristine, including allowing users to set budgets and see cost forecasts.
  3. Provides automated cost allocation without tagging requirements.


  1. Does not provide visibility into utilized, idle, and unallocated costs at a glance—can be inferred, but requires mental/manual work, unlike a product where these costs are surfaced out of the box.
  2. Kubernetes costs, if not in AWS, won’t be surfaced, nor will optimization opportunities.
  3. Unable to retrieve context into cloud events—no access to CD pipelines to unearth this information.

Kubecost Summary

Kubecost provides a good set of visibility and monitoring tools. It provides insights that engineering teams can use to create more efficiencies across their Kubernetes infrastructure. As a firm believer in empowering engineers to manage cloud costs – not just finance teams – we must give credit where it’s due and congratulate Kubecost on their efforts to implement bottom-up, not top-down accountability. However, Kubecost falls short in providing support for non-cluster services, whether that’s visibility, optimization, or forecasting.

While the world is moving towards Kubernetes adoption, non-cluster cloud usage is still king. Customers may find themselves using multiple tools across their cloud infrastructure, which can create discrepancies in reporting and lack of trust in the insights surfaced. Overall, Kubecost is a good tool if all your cloud assets are in Kubernetes alone.

Evaluate the Top Cloud Cost Management Tools

This blog post presented several cloud cost tools that work as Kubecost alternatives. We hope you enjoyed reading this post and found it insightful. We’re confident the tools listed in the post will help you drive continuous cost optimization in your organization.

Take a look at our DevOps Comparison Tools page for a more detailed comparison of Harness Cloud Cost Management and other providers.

Best of luck evaluating Kubecost alternatives, and feel free to sign up for a Harness CCM demo when you're ready!

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