Free and Open Source AWS Cost Monitoring Tools

Jun 26th, 2023
Free and Open Source AWS Cost Monitoring Tools
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Table of Contents

  1. Free and Open Source Tools For Optimizing AWS Costs
  2. Limitations of Free and Open-Source Cost Monitoring Tools
  3. The Power of Proprietary FinOps Solutions
  4. Conclusion
  5. Final Thoughts

As the demand and cost for cloud computing continue to rise, organizations using Amazon Web Services (AWS) are becoming more mindful of cost optimization. Although there are several AWS in-house tools available to help such businesses optimize their AWS cloud expenses, these tools are severely limited. Yes, they can provide some sort of valuable insights and cost-saving recommendations, but most times, they fail to capture and provide the 360-degree view a business needs to make informed decisions.

For example, native AWS cost monitoring tools might provide basic information on overall expenditure and then lack the granularity needed to pinpoint specific cost drivers. The same could be said of open-source tools; while often customizable, they often fail to offer seamless integration with other business systems, or even aggregate cloud cost from many cloud platforms. 

Such tools could make it challenging for businesses to obtain a holistic view of their cloud costs and effectively manage expenses across departments or projects.

In this article, we will explore the top 5 AWS cost optimization free or open-source tools, discuss their shortcomings, and highlight the benefits of using a comprehensive FinOps solution.

Free and Open Source Tools For Optimizing AWS Costs

AWS Billing Dashboard

The AWS billing dashboard provides a comprehensive graphical overview of your AWS cost. It is available in the AWS Management Console and includes charts with an overview of spend, relative monthly spending by service, and actual monthly spending by service – both sorted by usage. The data provided are summaries of historical records and do not constitute a forecast of future editions.

ֿReference: https://aws.amazon.com/blogs/startups/getting-started-with-aws-cost-management

With the AWS Billing Dashboard, customers can gain insights into cost trends, set budget alerts, and access detailed billing reports. Most importantly, you get a user-friendly interface and intuitive visualizations, which should empower your business to effectively manage and optimize its AWS costs.

AWS Billing Dashboard

AWS Cost  Explorer is another graphical tool that analyzes expenses. With the Cost Explorer, customers can view the payments of the last 12+ months and statistically forecast the next three months. Also, based on usage patterns, Cost Explorer recommends On-Demand Instances or Reserved Instances (RI), including instance sizes.

The tool also allows greater control over the visualizations to illustrate patterns of service over different time periods.

                               Reference: https://aws.amazon.com/aws-cost-management/aws-cost-explorer/features/

AWS Trusted Advisor

AWS Trusted Advisor automatically scans an AWS account and makes recommendations to improve performance, security, reliability, fault tolerance, and reduce costs. While AWS provides a basic set of free security checks, the entire suite requires a Business or Enterprise support plan. These also include cost reviews. AWS Trusted Advisor provides recommendations for cost optimization on the following parameters:

  • EC2 Transition from On-Demand to Partial Upfront RI
  • RI leases that have recently expired or will be in the next 30 days
  • EC2 instances with light utilization of less than 10 percent
  • Unused Elastic Block Store volumes or Redshift clusters
  • Unused RDS instances
  • Unassigned elastic IP addresses not associated with an EC2 instance

Reference: https://aws.amazon.com/premiumsupport/technology/trusted-advisor/

AWS Lambda Power Tuning

AWS Lambda Power Tuning Is a tool created by the AWS Solutions Architecture team to enhance the performance and cost-effectiveness of AWS Lambda functions. It leverages the concept of finding the right balance between allocated memory and execution time for optimal function performance.

The tool works by performing multiple iterations of a Lambda function, each with a different memory setting. During each iteration, AWS Lambda Power Tuning measures and collects performance metrics such as execution time, CPU utilization, and cost. By analyzing these metrics, the tool determines the ideal memory allocation that maximizes performance while minimizing cost.

ֿReference: https://docs.aws.amazon.com/lambda/latest/operatorguide/profile-functions.html

Komiser

Another tool that is very popular in the open-source community is Komiser. It is a cloud cost optimization and analysis tool, specifically designed for Amazon Web Services (AWS). 

Reference: https://www.komiser.io/

It provides insights and recommendations to help users optimize their AWS costs and improve resource utilization. Here are some key features of Komiser:
  • Cost Visualization: Komiser offers a visually appealing dashboard that provides a comprehensive overview of your AWS costs. It allows you to monitor and analyze cost trends, identify cost outliers, and visualize cost breakdowns by service, region, or resource type.

  • Resource Utilization Analysis: Komiser provides insights into resource utilization, allowing users to identify underutilized or idle resources. By pinpointing areas of resource inefficiency, you can take steps to optimize resource allocation and reduce unnecessary costs.

  • Cost Optimization Recommendations: Based on the analysis of AWS usage and spending patterns, Komiser offers recommendations for cost optimization. It suggests strategies such as rightsizing instances, utilizing reserved instances, or leveraging spot instances to achieve cost savings.

  • Integration and Extensibility: Komiser integrates with AWS CloudWatch, AWS Cost Explorer, and AWS Trusted Advisor to fetch and analyze cost and usage data. It also allows users to extend its functionalities by writing custom plugins or scripts.

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Limitations of Free and Open-Source Cost Monitoring Tools

Although the previously mentioned free tools can be utilized for optimizing cloud expenses, it is crucial to recognize their limitations.

These tools provide valuable insights and basic functionalities but may fall short when it comes to addressing complex optimization scenarios or offering in-depth analysis such as : 

  • AWS Cost Explorer

AWS Cost Explorer provides high-level cost insights and visualizations, but it lacks one important thing – real-time cost reporting.

Adobe incurred an unexpected cloud bill of over 500k when they inadvertently left a computing job running on Azure; real-time alerting would have helped here. If this could happen to Adobe on Azure, surely you don’t want to leave your cloud operations without real-time cost reporting.

  • AWS Budgets

AWS Budgets can send alerts when costs exceed predefined thresholds, but it doesn't support complex cost optimization actions, such as automating instance resizing or scheduling.
it may not offer granular visibility into costs at the resource or tag level. This can make it challenging to identify specific cost drivers or optimize costs for individual resources.

  • AWS Trusted Advisor

AWS Trusted Advisor provides recommendations for optimizing costs, but it may have limited coverage across all AWS services or hybrid cloud configurations.

For example, Trusted Advisor may offer cost optimization recommendations for EC2 instances, but it may not provide detailed guidance for optimizing other services like RDS or S3.

  • Komiser

While an excellent cost optimization platform in its own right, Komiser lacks certain advanced functionalities, such as automated rightsizing recommendations or detailed cost analysis across various AWS services – features that other commercial tools offer. Besides, since it’s not a native AWS tool, it may have a steeper learning curve compared to other cost optimization tools, as it requires familiarity with its configuration, scripting, and customization processes. It may require additional time and effort to set up and configure for specific use cases.

The Power of Proprietary FinOps Solutions

As we learned in the previous section about the limitations of free and native tools for AWS cost optimization, it becomes crucial that organizations seeking more comprehensive and effective solutions should consider proprietary alternatives.

While free or native tools can provide basic cost monitoring and insights, there are several compelling reasons why FinOps solutions like Finout should be preferred for more advanced and effective cost optimization. Such as:

  • Comprehensive Feature Set: FinOps solutions often offer you a wide range of advanced features specifically designed for cost optimization. These features go beyond what is available in free or native tools, enabling you to implement sophisticated cost-saving strategies. Examples include automated rightsizing, intelligent instance scheduling, anomaly detection, and detailed cost allocation.
  • Granular Insights: Cloud cost optimization solutions provide detailed analysis and insights into cost drivers. This allows you to identify opportunities to optimize their cloud costs at the resource, tag, or service level. These solutions also offer actionable recommendations to reduce costs based on historical usage patterns, industry benchmarks, and machine learning algorithms.
  • Customization and Flexibility: You can customize your cloud cost optimization workflows to meet your specific needs and priorities. This level of customization is not always possible with free or native tools.
  • Automation and Efficiency: FinOps solutions excel in automating cost optimization tasks, streamlining workflows, and enabling proactive cost management. They offer scheduled actions, dynamic resource resizing, automated instance scheduling, and intelligent workload balancing, allowing you to achieve significant cost savings while minimizing manual effort.
  • Enhanced Support and Expertise: FinOps solutions can also provide you with dedicated support, expertise, and guidance. These vendors have specialized teams with deep knowledge of AWS cost optimization and can offer personalized assistance, best practices, and ongoing support in implementing and fine-tuning cost optimization strategies.

Conclusion

In conclusion, as businesses continue to embrace the flexibility and scalability of AWS, cost optimization becomes a critical component of their cloud strategy. While open-source tools provide a starting point, their limitations prevent them from effectively addressing the complexities of cost management in large-scale production environments.

By adopting a FinOps proprietary solution, you can unlock the full potential of AWS cost optimization. 

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