Amazon Web Services Gets Billing Alerts

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Amazon has just announced that it's adapted its CloudWatch metrics and alarms functionality to Amazon Web Services Cloud accounts, to help users better track usage and likewise receive billing alerts. With the AWS Cloud running on a pay-as-you-go basis, bills reflect actual usage, which can vary by the hour. Amazon seeks to allow users to better and more easily monitor their activity.

Here is a screen of the interface:

was billing metrics

The following estimated metrics are tracked and logged over a 14 day period:

Estimated Charges: Total
Estimated Charges: By Service
Estimated Charges: By Linked Account (if you are using Consolidated Billing)
Estimated Charges: By Linked Account and Service (if you are using Consolidated Billing)

Again, these numbers are merely estimates, based on the cost of one's AWS usage to date within the current billing cycle, and how they might increase per services used. Users can now set up billing alerts - mainly to track when an account might be exceeding Amazon's Free Usage Tier. Other uses of the tools include:

- Relate the billing metrics to business metrics such as customer count, customer acquisition cost, or advertising spending (all of which you could also store in CloudWatch, as custom metrics) and use them to track the relationship between customer activity and resource consumption. You could (and probably should) know exactly how much you are spending on cloud resources per customer per month.

- Update your alerts dynamically when you change configurations to add or remove cloud resources. You can use the alerts to make sure that a regression or a new feature hasn't adversely affected your operational costs.

- Establish and monitor ratios between service costs. You can establish a baseline set of costs, and set alarms on the total charges and on the individual services. Perhaps you know that your processing (EC2) cost is generally 1.5x your database (RDS) cost, which in turn is roughly equal to your storage (S3) cost. Once you have established the baselines, you can easily detect changes that could indicate a change in the way that your system is being used (perhaps your newer users are storing, on average, more data than than the original ones).

Amazon encourages users to visit their AWS Account Activity page to get started. CloudWatch allows up to 10 alarms and 1,000 notifications via email per month in its free tier range. The upgrade comes soon after Amazon launched the AWS Partner Network (APN).

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