AWS Cost Management

AWS Cost Management is a collection of tools that provide insight into Amazon Web Services (AWS) public cloud cost and usage. AWS Cost Management tools include AWS Budgets, AWS Cost Explorer and the AWS Cost & Usage Report. Additionally, a user can access Reserved Instances (RI) reports to set and track instance usage goals. An enterprise uses these tools, including billing reports, cloud usage data and other metrics, to monitor and control its AWS spending. AWS customers can access AWS Cost Management tools through the Billing Dashboard.

How AWS Cost Management works

AWS Cost Management tools include charts and graphs that visualize past AWS cloud usage and spending, as well as forecast future costs based on current monthly usage. An administrator can see monthly usage metrics for each individual service and its subsequent cost to the organization.

An admin can dig deeper into spending habits with breakdowns by AWS region and linked account. You can apply cost allocation tags to track and organize usage on a more detailed level in Cost Explorer and in the Cost & Usage Report.

Example AWS spending through Billing Manager.
AWS Billing Manager spending breakdowns.

An IT team can implement alerts through AWS Budgets to receive notifications when they near pre-determined spending thresholds. Each budget can have up to five different alerts and 10 different email subscribers, or it can publish to an Amazon Simple Notification Service topic. An admin can also cross-reference costs and usage across all Amazon services in Cost Explorer.

AWS Cost Management Tools

There are multiple tools available through AWS Cost Management.

  • AWS Budgets
    • Create and track budgets from the AWS Budgets console or via the Budgets API. Track budgets monthly, quarterly or yearly with customizable start and end dates. For further analysis, an admin can track costs along multiple dimensions, such as services, linked accounts or tags. AWS Budgets provides the first two budgets for free and then imposes a $.02 per-day charge on all subsequent budgets up to a 20,000 budget limit.
  • AWS Cost Explorer
    • View cost and usage data in AWS Cost Explorer to identify trends, isolate excessive costs and search for budgetary anomalies. Cost Explorer creates a default set of reports to start, and the admin can then create custom reports for specific time periods, filters, groups or forecasts. Default reports include breakdowns of monthly costs by each service, Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) usage, overall AWS running expenses and RIs.
      • An admin can directly access the AWS Cost Explorer query engine via the AWS Cost Explorer API, which is available via the AWS Command Line Interface and AWS-supported SDKs. An admin can use the tool to build a custom and interactive cost management application without creating any additional infrastructure. Each request costs $.01, and paginated results are viewed as separate requests.
    • An admin can also generate RI reports through AWS Cost Explorer. Visualize RI data or inspect specific RI subscriptions through RI Utilization and Coverage reports. Customize RI reports to see utilization and coverage marks, and also forecast RI goals. Refine data obtained from these reports with filtering dimensions, such as account and instance type.
  • AWS Cost & Usage Report
    • View usage for each Amazon service by any accounts or Identity and Access Management (IAM) users as either hourly or daily line items. An admin can also view cost allocation tags as columns. Track RI usage with the tool to better understand which instances succeed in which environments. Specify an Amazon Simple Storage Service (S3) bucket to store AWS Cost & Usage data. Download reports from the S3 console or retrieve them with the Amazon S3 API. There is no direct cost to use the AWS Cost & Usage Report, but S3 storage rates apply.
This was last updated in March 2018

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