With thousands of service offerings across scores of products, AWS can be a minefield to navigate in order to have a clear overview of your billing and costs. Some AWS bills can contain hundreds if not thousands of line items.

So how do you make sense of this? And how do you ensure that different parts of your business have the information they need to understand their AWS spend.

Here are 6 Top Tips to make sure you don’t end up with a nasty surprise at the end of the month.

  1. Tagging: Ensure all the AWS resources being used are tagged. We recommend tagging the name of the resource, the application, the environment and also the version of the application where appropriate.  This enables the bill to be split by Tag and allows internal cross-charging if required.  In the case of multiple AWS Accounts, agree a set of tags and values that the whole organisation can use as standard.
  2. Billing Alerts: By enabling billing alerts you can monitor your AWS usage charges. By adding in a billing alarm you can ensure that once a specified threshold has been reached a notification is sent to a topic – the topic can have an email or SMS subscription configured so that the correct person in the business is alerted.
  3. Billing Reports: Billing reports provide detailed information on your AWS usage and the associated costs. As a result you can break down the bill and identify which AWS resources are more expensive.  The tags you want to see in the bills also need to be enabled.
  4. Trusted Advisor: If you have Business or Enterprise support with AWS, the online Trusted Advisor suite provides free, real time guidance to help you provision resources following AWS best practices. Review the recommendations around Cost Optimization (idle or underutilised resources); Performance (service limits and non-optimal configurations); Security (unrestricted security groups); and Fault Tolerance (EBS snapshots).
  5. Cost Optimisation: AWS is based on the pay-as-you go tenet that you only get billed for what you are using. By optimising the costs your business will get the best ROI. There are four considerations to make:
    • Right Sizing – have you got the right instance size for your workload? The latest generation of instances are usually cheaper. It is also possible to downsize your instances to save on cost without compromising on requirements.
    • Reserved Instances – have you utilised Reserved Instances for resources that are always on? Not just EC2 but also RDS, DynamoDB, Redshift and Elasticache.
    • Increase Elasticity – have you utilised autoscaling to scale up and down based on demand and usage? Do you turn off developer/test environments when not in use?
    • Continuous Improvement – Cost Optimisation is not a one off activity, so are you actively monitoring your Instances, CPU, Disk, Network, and Memory? This information is required to ensure you have the right instance sizes both now and in the future.
  6. Turn it off: It is easy for costs to spiral out of control when using AWS. With the proper attention to detail your business will be able to achieve the savings it hoped for when it decided to make the move.


By Jon Southby, Cloud Solutions Architect and AWS expert, SystemsUp. 

Find out how SystemsUp can help you keep your AWS costs under control by downloading our Free Managed AWS Billing datasheet.

SystemsUp is an AWS Advanced Consulting Partner.

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