How to enhance cloud cost management in IaC 

June 7, 2023
10 min

Infrastructure as Code (IaC) has proven to be an indispensable way to accelerate the delivery of application infrastructure, helping developers deliver software faster by simplifying how configurations are created and integrated into software development workstreams.  

IaC empowers the developer with the ability to include cloud infrastructure as part of the application delivery lifecycle. This supports DevOps teams’ efforts to automate and streamline the complexities of deploying infrastructure in hybrid or multi-cloud environments.  

However, IaC is not without its limitations. For instance, IaC alone cannot capture or track costs associated with deployed cloud resources. And while IaC supports tagging (a means to capture cost data), it does so in a non-standardized way, leaving it to the developer’s discretion to tag what they believe is pertinent.  

As a result, while the practice of tagging can associate a cloud instance with an activity, it fails to designate the business need being supported by the cloud instance. 

Economic uncertainty creates new pressure to manage cloud costs  

Especially today in an uncertain economic climate, companies are carefully scrutinizing IT budgets and cloud spend to eliminate underutilized resources while continuing to deliver applications on-demand. 

To find these efficiencies, businesses must understand the what, when, why, and who of cloud usage. By connecting cloud usage to business context, organizations can better understand how cloud resources are being used, insights that they can leverage to prioritize and optimize their budgets and spend.  

Cost and usage reporting tools available from the cloud providers or from independent software companies are the most common ways to understand cloud usage. These tools provide basic information associating raw usage with cost for a given cloud account, though they typically provide limited clarity on the purpose, importance, and value of the consumed resources—in other words, they lack the business context needed to make informed decisions about cloud spend.   

For example, software developers may spin up multiple cloud resource instances to support a specific outcome, and a project or application may need resources in multiple cloud regions. Without tying the consumed resources to business context, cost reporting has no mechanism to show how these multiple instances supported a specific purpose (e.g., application, product, or project). While this identifies resource consumption, it falls short on the purpose or grouping of those resources.  

Tying purpose with cloud spend bridges the divide between top-down budget setting and bottom-up IaC cloud resource provisioning. This is the first step to optimize, prioritize, and plan infrastructure spend strategically.  

Uncovering usage details

This begs the question: How do organizations uncover these usage details? Developers are unmotivated to standardize configurations or restrict their flexibility by using IaC. And IT management and business leaders who are accountable for cloud costs will not be able to dictate developers’ practices, either.  

The solution is founded in infrastructure orchestration and automation with consistent resource tagging. Through what we describe as a “control plane” approach with Torque, our users automatically discover and map IaC configurations into customizable blueprints for application environments, which developers can deploy repeatedly via the CI/CD pipeline.  

These blueprints also provide a central place to automate the application of standard tags as well as the apply custom tags to all environments that get deployed to link the environment and its resources to business context. Role-based access controls manage who can create and make changes to tags. At the same time blueprints can implement guardrails on runtimes, instance types, and approved cloud services—ensuring that software developers use resources more efficiently. 

This ensures that those responsible for budgeting and cloud spend can access information that helps them to understand cloud resource usage, fostering more informed decision making around cloud budgeting and spend. 

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