Savvy Cost Management Relies on Automated Cost Controls

Posted by Ken Pascoe, Product Dev Technical Lead, - Aug 27, 2020

Cloud cost governance can be tricky, especially when you have many resources and budgets to manage. Automated cloud cost controls can simplify this process and automatically trigger actions to reduce the risk of going over budget.

By implementing automated cost controls, you can assure that cloud users and resources within your organization are operating efficiently and cost-effectively.

Budget actions are the key to successfully implementing an automated cloud cost control. These autonomous actions along with other alerting capabilities will help streamline your cloud billing processes.

With that in mind, let’s take a look at how you can use budget actions in OnSpend to automatically drive your cloud cost management and keep you apprised of your spending activity in real-time.

What are Budget Actions?

Budget actions are automated cost controls that allow you to define when and how you want to be notified of different kinds of budget events. These can include specific budget limits, or thresholds, that are met or exceeded. Limits can be defined by a dollar amount or a percentage of budget consumed.

Blue Ring Binder with Inscription Budget PlanningBy default, OnSpend includes a single email action when costs exceed 50, 75, 90, and 100 percent of a budgeted amount on new budget alerts. Of course, these thresholds can be modified to reflect the dollar amounts or percentages that require attention when met.

Budget actions also give you the ability to define which thresholds trigger which actions. For example, you may want to receive budget alerts when all thresholds are met, but the finance department only needs to be notified when a budget exceeds the 90 and 100 percent threshold. All this is possible through OnSpend budget actions.

The email action is only one of five different types of actions that can be triggered. You might have other team members, services or systems/applications that need to receive these alerts as well. That’s where other budget actions come into play.

Email Actions

As noted above, there are times when more than one user needs to receive email alerts when cloud costs exceed budget thresholds. Email actions allow you to expand recipients of budget alerts to keep more stakeholders updated when specified budget events occur. These can include other individuals or groups.

In OnSpend, when other users or groups are added in email actions, they’ll be notified that they have been added as an additional recipient of the budget alert. They can opt-in to this alert to start receiving email notifications. If the alerts are no longer relevant, or they are simply no longer needed, any recipient can choose to opt out of budget alerts at any time.

Cloud Pub/Sub Actions

Another useful mechanism for automating cloud cost management is the use of Pub/Sub which allows you to create alerts that will trigger automated processes or integrate into your other applications.

Publish/Subscribe (Pub/Sub) messaging is a form of asynchronous communication between services. In the Pub/Sub model, any message published to a topic (named resource) by a publisher is immediately received by all subscribers to the topic.

You can configure OnSpend to publish budget alerts and watched resource events on a topic of your choice.

You can configure OnSpend to publish budget alerts and watched resource events on a topic of your choice. For example, OnSpend can deliver budget alert notifications to a Pub/Sub topic with the current status of your budget. This is especially helpful if you are cost-conscious and need to put more automated cloud cost management controls in your environments.

Real-life Pub/Sub Action Application

Pub/Sub actions make integrating cost management controls into other applications simple. By simply allowing OnSpend to publish messages to Pub/Sub, other applications can automatically process budget events as they occur, in real-time.

budget meetingAn example of such a solution is one that Onix recently worked on in collaboration with a current client. The client’s goal was to allow users within their organization to trial Google Cloud Platform (GCP) to determine how these cloud services could improve their overall productivity and collaboration. In order to keep overall costs of the initiative within budget, each user was given a portion of the budget to spend on their individual projects. 

To prevent users from exceeding their portion of the budget, a budget and Pub/Sub action were defined for each user. The Pub/Sub action was triggered once 100 percent of the budget amount was spent. A custom application was developed to process these messages automatically and disable billing on the user’s project. This kept each user from spending more than their allocated amounts and kept the overall initiative on budget as well. 

Other Budget Actions in OnSpend

In addition to automatically sending vital email and Pub/Sub alerts, OnSpend also can post automated messages in Google Chat rooms and on Slack. This is helpful for teams that use one of these cloud-based tools to communicate and collaborate on projects.

It also gives administrators a quick way to reach large groups of users about various budget events without having to add those users as other recipients of critical budget alerts through email actions.

smiling business woman holding piggy bankIf you wish to have budget alerts delivered to a mobile phone or pager device, OnSpend can deliver these messages to a verified phone number in the United States or Canada. Text alerts are ideal for users that use text messaging (SMS) as their primary form of communication.

Each user that wishes to use a specific phone number is required to verify the phone number when setting up their own alerts.

There is no reason in today’s modern cloud computing world to face budget and billing surprises. Automated cloud cost management tools, such as OnSpend, not only will alert you to budget events but also can automate system actions to keep your cloud spend in check and your mind at rest.

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Meet the Author

Ken Pascoe, Product Dev Technical Lead

Ken Pascoe, Product Dev Technical Lead

Ken is responsible for building and developing the company's OnSpend cloud billing and budget management solution. He has nearly 10 years of full-stack software development experience and enjoys learning and applying new technologies.

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