AWS budget tool update gives suits the control they crave

Why not run two versions of services and turn on the bad one once budgets run low?

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Amazon Web Services' (AWS') ongoing efforts to help users control costs have resulted in an upgrade to its Budgets tool?

Cloudy blogger in chief Jeff Barr says the tool is aimed at “Finance Managers, Project Managers, and VP-level DevOps folks” and the upgrade offers “automated notifications that provide you with detailed status information (over or under budget) so that you can identify potential issues and take action to prevent undesired actual or forecasted overruns.”

The service now allows the creation of 20,000 budgets per client, a number explained by AWS' suggestion that users create discrete budgets for each cloud-using business unit, project team or perhaps even by calculating the costs of individual services.

It's no secret that cloud is frequently no cheaper – and sometimes more costly – than on-premises technology. Cost was one reason Dropbox moved from AWS to its own data centre. Ease of use is another: just as virtualisation led to virtual machine sprawl, users often find themselves using rather more cloud than they planned or imagined, even with the AWS console offering near-real-time views of consumption and cost.

Controlling sprawl is a fine goal. AWS has also made an odd, to The Register's mind, suggestion for how to control costs in this budgeting scenario:

I could create a new web app with a fixed budget, and then invoke a AWS Lambda function if costs are approaching the budgeted amount. The app could take corrective action to ensure that the budget is not exceeded. For example, it could temporarily disable some of the more computationally intensive features, or it could switch over to a statically hosted alternative site.

Changing customer experience depending on whether you're approaching a budget threshold is an interesting approach to customer service. Asking IT to build and maintain two versions of the same website because full-scale operations may sometimes not be in the budget also looks an interesting use of resources.

But if that's what spreadsheet jockeys charged with controlling costs want, who is IT to deny them?

AWS says it has plenty of other cost-saving-through automation scenarios up its sleeve, too.

AWS is not alone in offering this kind of service. Microsoft recently re-vamped its own Azure Pricing Calculator and Google has a calculator of its own. ®

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