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Organizing and Managing Google Cloud Costs at Scale

10 min read

Bills, bills, bills aren’t just concerning for Destiny’s Child — they’re a big concern for any organization working in the cloud. Cloud services are often unpredictable, dynamic, and offer limited spending visibility. It’s downright hard to optimize costs — especially when working at scale.

Managing and optimizing cloud costs at scale for Google Cloud, for example, is complex. With its extensive product suite, the ability to mix and match services, and various price points for different tools, keeping tabs on spending quickly gets overwhelming. Trying to optimize cloud spending is even harder.

If you’re a Google Cloud user, you’re probably already well aware that controlling your cloud costs is essential. So the question isn’t so much why you should manage your cloud spending — it’s a question of how to manage spending at scale. This article reviews just that.

Challenges and Considerations in Google Cloud Cost Management

To manage costs at scale, you need to begin by understanding the challenges you’re up against:

  • Complex pricing structures — Google Cloud’s wide range of products and services each have a specific pricing model. This variety is great for flexibility in your architecture but not so great for tracking and optimizing costs. For example, Google bases pricing for BigQuery on a combination of storage and query processing while Google Kubernetes Engine is priced at a flat rate per cluster plus the CPU, memory, and temporary storage your scheduled Pods use. When estimating your costs, you have to consider all these variables. So, without close governance and monitoring, your cloud costs can grow sky-high. Note that Google does offer some tools to help with monitoring costs, although putting these insights into action is up to you.
  • Limited visibility — When you're working at scale, gaining visibility into the costs is quite tough. As more and more teams put projects in the cloud, the number of accounts grows, the number of products you’re paying for pile up, the harder it is to see what you’re paying for… you get the picture. And while Google Cloud offers tools to monitor your cloud usage, these tools don’t provide the visibility you’re probably hoping for. They lack a unified view of all cloud spending and don’t support automated actions — like triggering resource consumption limits — that control usage. You’re responsible for implementing those steps yourself, which increases your workload and decreases the information’s timeliness. Plus, the platform’s tools don’t support multi-cloud environments, so that’s even more effort to collect information across cloud providers.
  • Cost unpredictability — Thanks to the elasticity of cloud provisioning, teams can automate allocating and releasing resources according to their needs. While this helps speed up task completion, it often obscures spending trends. Teams can very easily over-provision and unnecessarily consume resources, making costs unpredictable. And as your organization completes or adds projects, this issue becomes exacerbated, with costs fluctuating and becoming even more difficult to track.

Best Practices for Google Cloud Cost Optimization and FinOps

IT costs are no longer a fixed capital expenditure. Monthly bills can fluctuate quite drastically — and ready or not, they need to be paid.

To avoid a gut-wrenching bill at the end of the month, you need to anticipate and estimate your expenses. But to anticipate costs effectively, FinOps and IT teams need to work together to make spending data visible and optimize spending based on that data.

The following sections outline strategies that your FinOps and IT teams can use to help keep Google Cloud costs low.

Use Native Google Cost Management Tools

Start by using the native cost management tools Google provides. With these tools, you can control cloud costs on a fundamental level. You can monitor and visualize your spending data in ways that mirror your organization’s structure, helping you better track where your money is going.

Google Cloud’s native cost management tools also let you select a granular set of rules and permissions to control usage and compliance. For example, using the Google Cloud console, you can easily access your billing and view budget alerts. Its data analysis tools also make your use and budget consumption visible, helping you understand your cloud spending better.

Implement Resource Tagging

If you want to minimize spending, it’s not enough to know how much you’re spending — you need to know where you’re spending and who is doing the spending.

You can easily gain this information with resource tagging. Resource tagging is a simple yet highly effective strategy for monitoring and optimizing Google Cloud costs. Tags, which teams can assign to different resources, allow you to track which resources are accessed, when, and by whom.

Establishing a consistent tagging system enables granular cost tracking, supports resource optimization, increases visibility, and supports budgeting. For example, you can figure out which teams or individuals are provisioning more resources than they’re using and ask them to cut back.

Optimize Resource Usage

It may feel self-evident, but to minimize Google Cloud costs, you have to minimize — or optimize — resource use. Optimizing your resource consumption improves efficiency which, in turn, lowers those pesky bills.

Remember, though: Optimizing resource usage is a process, not an event. Cloud use is dynamic, and resource usage can change rapidly. Monitor resource consumption continuously to spot opportunities to improve it.

Monitoring resource consumption also lets you spot patterns that you need to address. For example, if one team is accounting for the majority of consumption of AI/ML services without any checks or oversight, you could make these resources available on a reserved basis to better control these costs.

Getting Started with Google Cloud Cost Management

While the tools and best practices above are a good start, significant Google Cloud cost reductions require a thorough, well-implemented cost management strategy. It might feel overwhelming to create this strategy while working at scale, but it’s actually quite easy to get started using the steps below.

Step One: Assess Your Current Google Cloud Environment

The first step to managing cloud costs is understanding your current situation. Look closely at your current resources, who uses them, and what those resources cost, then evaluate whether those teams have made the best use of those resources.

Then, you need to examine what measures you have in place to control costs. Do you have a system? If so, has it been lax? What is or isn’t working? This reflection and accountability is fundamental to creating a strong budgeting system going forward.

Your goal here should be to comprehensively understand your existing cloud resources, accounts, and spending.

Step Two: Define a Google Cloud Cost Management Strategy

Once you understand where you are, you need to decide where you’re going. You’ll need to design your cost management strategy — your goals, targets, and guidelines for cloud costs.

At this stage, you want to focus on how you’d like to transform your Google Cloud spending. Do you need to spend less overall? Do you want to invest more to accelerate a particular project? Do you want to ensure all teams have equal access to cloud resources? This endgame builds the foundation for your cost management strategy and informs how you’ll achieve your goals.

Step Three: Assign Roles and Responsibilities

The next step is to assign roles and responsibilities for translating the strategy into action. Creating the Google Cloud cost management strategy is a bit more high-level. This stage is about boots-on-the-ground cost management.

Designate key stakeholders who’ll take ownership of Google Cloud cost management and be responsible for establishing — and enforcing — guidelines and rules for provisioning resources. At this stage, you’ll need to determine how teams will share and measure costs.

Finally, invest time into ensuring each team member knows their roles and responsibilities in controlling and optimizing spending. Knowledge is power, right?

Step Four: Implement a Google Cloud Cost Management Tool

When it comes to managing costs at scale, it’s not always (or often) best to go it alone. Investing in tooling designed to help you manage cloud costs can significantly lower expenses.

Although Google Cloud offers several native cost management tools that provide insights into resource consumption, these tools leave the responsibility of implementing cost-saving changes up to you. These features give you visibility but don’t help you manage your costs.

Instead of relying just on native tools, do some research and implement a cost management tool that goes above and beyond. It should provide clear cost visualizations, include notifications about cloud spending, and offer tools to automate cost control. These features will help you manage Google Cloud costs at scale — and across multiple cloud environments (which, remember, Google Cloud tooling doesn’t support).

Kion: Your Solution for Managing Google Cloud Costs at Scale

Kion helps you manage Google Cloud costs at scale by offering a single view of your Google Cloud use. With an easy-to-navigate interface and actionable, real-time analytics on your spending data, controlling Google Cloud costs is easy. Kion also includes the option to view Azure and Amazon Web Service (AWS) resource use, so you can easily track all your spending across a multi-cloud environment.

Some of Kion’s top-notch cost management features include:

  • Budget and report design that are aligned with business units — With Kion, you can create budgets and reports tailored to your organization’s structure. This approach helps you associate costs with specific departments or teams — necessary for truly understanding your cloud costs. And with clear visualizations, it’s easy to monitor costs across the organization and determine which business units may be over-provisioning your Google Cloud cloud resources.
  • Unified cost monitoring — Kion offers a single point to collect all your cost data. Kion consolidates data from multiple Google Cloud accounts, accounting for team-generated expenses (or even expenses incurred by individual developers).
  • Proactive savings identification — Continuous monitoring is a best practice. But it’s also repetitive and time-consuming, making it a bit of a drag — and perhaps an overlooked step in the cost management process. To ensure you’re not committing valuable personnel to this task, Kion continuously monitors and analyzes your Google Cloud resource use. It scans your entire Google Cloud environment, identifies overprovisioned or unused resources, recommends the right sizing for instances, and alerts you when reserved instances are nearing their renewal date. And since monitoring is continuous, Kion lets you know when something requires your attention, eliminating month-end surprises.

Conclusion

Google Cloud is one of the biggest names in the cloud computing game — but it isn’t perfect. Its collection of products and services is extensive, and each product has a different price. While these diverse features are a boon for your architecture, they impede your ability to manage costs.

Although you can follow best practices for controlling costs, like monitoring resource consumption and optimizing it where possible, reducing Google Cloud costs when working at scale is complex. With disparate teams using different resources to different degrees, maintaining visibility into your cloud costs doesn’t come easy — especially when doing the work in-house.

Kion’s single platform offers consolidation and continuous monitoring, analytics, and recommendations for optimization. Thanks to Kion, you can gain a holistic, granular view of your Google Cloud resource consumption patterns and stop overspending. With this information in tow, you can optimize your cloud resource usage and, as a result, better control your costs.

To learn more about how to keep your Google Cloud costs in check with Kion, review our cloud financial management features.

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