Cloud billing management is critical to success in an environment that can scale quickly. Forecasting, visibility, and control all contribute to a healthy relationship with the cloud, but it can slip in an instant. First, it is important to understand the challenges that arise in order to build a toolkit to solve them. Many companies struggle with billing data being siloed in different clouds, accurate reporting to cost centers, and giving the right visibility to the right people.
When using multiple cloud and SaaS services, it can seem insurmountable to get all of that cloud billing data into a single place to manage. Where will this billing data consolidate? Who will manage the infrastructure and tools required for cloud billing? How do different employees access the data they need for their use cases? Don’t be overwhelmed! Just like a jigsaw puzzle, it can be complex, but there are a lot of strategies that are employed to make things easier. Even better news, every puzzle piece has a place, and the end result is always rewarding.
To solve the SaaS and cloud billing management problem, it is worth starting with a tool that can be improved and customized. While it will take time to develop skills and knowledge around new software, significantly more time will be spent on a homegrown solution that can address every need. Too many hours and too much tribal knowledge will be siloed into the effort which is hard to justify. At LucidPoint, we use Looker blocks to provide billing insight across our client portfolios and put our puzzle together. In order to achieve positive outcomes, there are a few fundamentals we implement to make the process simple and effective for our clients and ourselves.
First, to optimize cloud billing management tactics, the data needs to live in a single location. It would be difficult to put a puzzle together if you hid the pieces around your house before you began. Keeping financials straight becomes harder to do with every new addition to your service and cloud portfolio. A great first step is to consolidate into a data warehouse such as BigQuery. The analytics layer of your solution might have strong integrations with a data warehouse, so take that into account when deciding where to put your data and what you will use to garner insight from it. Now that all of the pieces are on the kitchen table, it is time to start building the picture.
From our experience tackling this issue, we find that governance and labeling of resources set clients up for cost management success. Applying billing labels through automation is the most robust method of establishing accurate cost association and insights. Developing a consistent approach to billing metadata throughout an IT organization is a large effort, but it's critical for billing accuracy.
Now that all the data is assembled in a unified manner, it is important that it does not go unused. No one wants to put the time and effort into a puzzle if they are not able to see the final picture. Business units and the employees within them will have unique use cases. Some need a magnifying glass to zoom in on the individual pieces for which they are responsible. Others want to take a step back to analyze the whole picture. Regardless, identifying the use cases and presenting the data in a digestible way is the last piece of the puzzle, but certainly not the least important. Without the feedback from the employees needing to see the cloud billing management , the effort is cast aside.
At the end of the day, an ounce of preparation is worth a pound of remediation to avoid your cloud billing management from getting out of hand. Putting together your jigsaw puzzle is a process that will continue indefinitely, but there are tools and strategies to put new sections together effectively. As a critical part of the business, it is important to have a firm foundation that will allow you to grow into the next set of challenges. Do the research, make a plan, execute your vision, and adjust as necessary!
LucidPoint Cloud Engineer