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Managing Amazon Web Services (AWS) costs

Managing Amazon Web Services (AWS) costsOur friends at the big G state that spending on public cloud is growing five times faster than other IT categories (Gartner, Public Cloud Services 2012-2018).

Our own research from December last year (How to beat Azure and AWS sprawl) suggests that ITAM Review readers are keen to explore the subject but are yet to fully get their arms around the issue. Cost control rather than compliance is the main driver, although cloud is not immune from compliance issues.

Spinning up new instances of Amazon or Azure is very similar to previous technology sprawls of the past, back in the day that might have been sharing a cool application via a CD, nowadays it is buying shiny new iPads or creating virtual machines. Our technical enthusiasm to play and innovate is a few steps ahead of our ability to control costs.

In a recent press release Flexera Software have announced the launch of FlexNet Manager for Cloud Infrastructure. The first IaaS provider FlexNet manages is Amazon AWS with a view to “ [giving] organizations centralized visibility into their cloud services use and [allowing] them to optimize utilization and control costs.”

(Side note: Most notable in the Flexera press release is that they refer to SAM as SAM, no sign of Software License Optimization, SLOE, or other Gartner acronyms. Hurrah!!).

It is good to see Flexera continuing to innovate and embrace these new challenges and I look forward to exploring their offering further. As is the Flexera way, this is an additional product at additional cost compared to Flexera’s Enterprise SAM Tool competitors who tend to bundle in new innovation within the maintenance cost.

Others SAM tool providers have suggested that they work with IaaS APIs to provide visibility but elegant solutions are limited.  More will be revealed throughout the course of our review of Enterprise SAM tools.

At this stage I’m not sure how FlexNet Manager for Cloud Infrastructure compares to dedicated Cloud cost management systems (e.g. Rightscale, Cloudability, Cloudcheckr, Cloudcruiser, Cloudranger, Cloudyn, Netflix Ice, or Amazon’s own Trusted Advisor). Moreover, I’m not sure if the market wants cloud cost control within ITAM, logic says it makes sense to sit it within ITAM in the longer term.

SaaS Cost Control

SaaS apps are another grey area for SAM tools with only a handful of ITAM tools offering coverage in this area. SAM tools have begun management in this area by offering the ability to track specific URLs. This is a bit clumsy and is like offering IT inventory when you already know what you have. It would be good to see ITAM tools offering SaaS Discovery first, i.e. show me who is using SaaS applications, I can then determine what I want to track.

Tracking SaaS URL’s also points towards traditional old-school SAM, I can’t help but think, in an era of self-service and app stores, the way to crack SaaS SAM is with single sign-on and integrating with tools such as OneLogin or Okta. i.e. SaaS is provisioned and reclaimed securely via the service desk and non-active users licenses are automatically re-harvested. (See the SAML standard on how to tell whether a user is still active and reclaim their SaaS subscription) Why track the usage of SaaS URL’s when single sign-on and identity management are already doing it?

What is your view? Have you seen or built an elegant solution to managing public cloud or SaaS costs?

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About Martin Thompson

Martin is owner and founder of The ITAM Review, an online resource and community for worldwide ITAM professionals.

Martin is also author of the book "Practical ITAM - The essential guide for IT Asset Managers", a book that describes how to get started and make a difference in the field of IT Asset Management.

On a voluntary basis Martin a contributor to ISO WG21 which develops the ITAM International Standard ISO/IEC 19770.

Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter or LinkedIn.

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