Improved User Experience for Cost Analysis and Showback

This blog is published in collaboration with Hicham Mourad and Jeevan Prabhu.

We’d like to announce some major updates to Cost Insight, VMware’s SaaS based Multi-cloud cost analytics solution, including improved user experience with cost analysis, newly added capability to quickly analyze Showback statements, and the ability to connect securely to AWS accounts using IAM.

Cost analysis gets turbo-charged

Every customer has a unique view toward cloud cost drivers and the impact of these on their business. Cost analysis is the gateway to arrive at meaningful insights and actionable recommendations. To make this process seamless, and empower the user with different toolsets, we have brought in a variety of data sets to the x and y axes of the feature. The user can now easily select the parameters for these axes to analyze the scenarios of interest giving them the ability to slice and dice the data the way they like! Additionally, we have added multiple chart types to visualize the data for easier consumption.

Let’s look at our AWS data. I want to see the different EC2 Instance types and their usage for the month of March, and I’d like to see them grouped by AWS account.

Cost Analysis
If you like the above view and the data it’s displaying, you have the option of exporting it out as a .png image, or as a .csv file.

Cost Analysis
 

Cost Analysis
Cost Insight now has Out of the box (OOTB) dashboards that provide insights into capacity, usage and cost. The user can drill down for deep dive analysis from these dashboards into cost analysis. We have highlighted some dashboards below.

Cost Analysis Dashboard
Azure OOTB dashboard

Cost Analysis Dashboard

Showback has a new shine

Lines of business have always seen IT as a cost center with infinite resources. Every business unit requests maximum infrastructure allocation to their projects and on most occasions those resources are underutilized. Wouldn’t a mechanism that shows the actual consumption of resources to the business units be helpful? Cost Insight solves this problem through Showback, grouping by user / business unit and displaying cloud consumption and savings opportunities. More options are available in Showback for additional analysis. The Showback statement is a powerful tool for infrastructure planning teams and makes IT a strategic business partner. The following graph shows the expenses across AWS and private cloud groups for the current month. Stay tuned for more blogs on Showback!

Cost Analysis: Expenses across AWS and private cloud groups

Securely connect to AWS using IAM

IAM role in AWS is an AWS construct that is best practice for identity management. With this release we have added the ability in Cost Insight to use IAM role for identity management of AWS accounts. IAM role can help make your environment more secure by:

  • Preventing hard coding of credentials in code or files, minimizing danger from exposure, and removing the risk of long-unchanged passwords. e.g. if we use IAM users then there is a need to expose account access id & secure key, whereas IAM role works on ARN (Amazon Resource Name), which is short-lived.
  • Using the principle of Least Privilege in IAM policies to isolate the systems and services to only those needed to do a specific job.
  • Minimizing common accounts and passwords by allowing controlled cross-account access.

You have two options when configuring Cost Insight to collect data from AWS; by using an IAM user and now also by using an IAM role. For IAM users you have to provide an Access Key ID, and a Secret Access Key. (See image below).

Cost Analysis: Add a new AWS account
The ideal way to do this is by using an IAM role. This method is recommended by AWS. (See image below). In this approach, the secret key won’t be exposed and the ARN is short lived.

Cost Analysis: Add a new AWS account
Try Cost Insight for free today to see these new features in action, and keep an eye on our blogs for regular updates on the service.

To learn more, please visit the Cost Insight webpage.

About the Authors

Srini Nirmalgandhi

Senior Product Marketing Manager

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