Why Cloud Service Billing APIs Are Not Enough

A member of our team discovered an interesting data point from Forrester Research analyst Lauren Nelson the other day – one public cloud service provider has more than 92,000 pricing combinations.

The service provider in question is Amazon Web Services (AWS), but that hardly matters. Take any one of the big cloud providers, and the variety of service/price combinations will be staggering. Combinations constantly shift as cloud providers attempt to cater to customers’ demand for choice, with different purchasing models, options for data management and storage, and system configurations.

We live in a time of growing multi-cloud use, as enterprises seek to mix and match services to achieve the best combination of function and cost. How can an MSP help each of its clients effectively manage and control usage and cost with such a bewildering volume of pricing combinations? On-demand access makes it all too easy for departments and even individuals within an enterprise to shift workloads and engage additional cloud resources with a few easy clicks. Untracked and uncatalogued instances can pile up fast.

Proprietary tools just can’t cut it

Individual cloud providers do offer cost monitoring and optimization services. These can help the enterprise’s IT department better track which groups within the organization use cloud services. This makes it feasible to develop show back and chargeback models. The downside is that the usefulness of these services quickly declines in a multi-cloud environment.

Cloud providers also offer billing APIs specific to their respective catalogs of services that do facilitate usage analysis. These can be useful for larger MSPs that have in-house a team of developers that can write to and manage these APIs on an ongoing basis. A cloud provider API can be an effective means to help enterprise clients avoid a billing nightmare and carry out insightful data analysis.

However, what about the legion of small to mid-sized MSPs that lack the in-house coding capability to make effective use of an API?

Also, just like the cost monitoring and optimization services mentioned above, an API is proprietary and specific to the cloud provider in question. In a multi-cloud environment, that means working with multiple APIs. This still leaves a sizeable intelligence gap. It remains a labor-intensive exercise for an MSP to compile a complete, comprehensive and timely report of an enterprise client’s overall cloud service usage from all the providers with which it has engaged.

Agnostic and arm’s length

Smaller MSPs, even larger ones, need a third-party tool that is cloud-agnostic, capable of pulling and distilling usage data from every cloud used by an enterprise into a single, convenient dashboard. That can only come from a vendor that doesn’t play favorites and understands that the rise of the multi-cloud demands a “brokerage” approach in how cloud services are provisioned, managed, tracked and billed.

Think of it as a commodities market for cloud services. This is the only way to give enterprises true cloud freedom.

If you want to discuss this in more details, Contact us today and let’s start the conversation.

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