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Vantage point for AWS landscape

Let's Do Tech
Technology generalist. I write about my experiences with tools and technologies. Current topic: Hashicorp Terraform
Originally published at letsdotech.dev ・5 min read

Have you recently admired AWS cloud platform capabilities? Are you appealed by the pay-as-you-use pricing model? Are you looking forward to hosting your products and services on AWS? Then you should also be prepared to spend hours figuring out why you are paying that penny!

Today AWS offers 200+ Managed IAAS services and each of them come with their own complex pricing model. The pricing model for each service usually consists of a combination of several usage parameters and patterns to evaluate how much you would pay at the end of the month.

Due to this complexity and unpredictable usage patterns, it becomes very difficult to keep track of cost forecasts. AWS Cost Explorer does help us explore the costs associated with usages. But to be honest, it is still some work and is confusing.

Don’t get me wrong — I absolutely adore AWS and is my first choice for any kind of cloud infrastructure requirements for my clients. AWS Well-Architected framework also relies on the Cost Optimization pillar. But at the same time, I really wish to have a vantage point with a clear financial accounting view.

What is Vantage?

A few weeks ago, I realized my AWS bill for that month was already ticking at $200. At first, it was not very apparent, but after a few clicks, I found the cause. This amount was being charged because I had provisioned a Private CA to issue certificates — purely for learning purposes — then forgot to de-provision.

Of course, it was partly because of my stupidity — I should have set the billing alarm beforehand. But hey, the point is — if it can happen to me, it can happen to anyone.

When I was introduced to Vantage.SH by Ben, my first words were — “I wish I had known this earlier!”. In this post, we take a look at some of the features offered by Vantage.

Vantage analyses your AWS cloud spend and presents you with an overview of monthly costs per service. No matter how complex your infrastructure is — all your AWS billing questions are answered with a clear view.

Vantage provides you with the ability to drill down on each service it discovers. It also discovers relationships between various infrastructure components which help associate costs in the view of dependencies.

Connecting your AWS account to Vantage is a matter of few clicks. It makes use of the Cross-Account IAM Role to have read-only access to all of your services. It never asks for your credentials (username, password, secret, and access keys).

The metadata thus collected is used to generate cost reports, trends, and forecasts. With this information, Vantage is able to provide an intuitive interface that exposes the scope for cost optimization.

Views

The magic behind providing an easy understanding of costs is Views.

Views in Vantage give perspective to the billing amount by providing hourly and monthly price per resource. It also helps you understand the relationships with other components in the given AWS account.

Besides, you can build custom Views based on your preferences. Custom Views is where you get the most personalized experience when it comes to being decisive about your infrastructure expenditure.

Logging into Vantage provides you with a dashboard that lists 3 types of Views with associated monthly costs and associated items

  1. Service Views — list of Views per AWS service

  2. Tag Views — list of Views per tag (if tags are being used)

  3. Custom Views — if you have created any custom View

CloudWatch metrics

Vantage automatically presents high-fidelity views for the resources that support CloudWatch metrics.

Workspaces

It is possible to connect multiple AWS accounts to Vantage. You can choose to add multiple AWS accounts to one workspace or multiple Workspaces. This enables context switching when viewing cost reports for different customers.

Since Workspace maintains a separate scope, it is associated with its own set of Views and reports.

Weekly Reports

To keep track of costs, Vantage provides a weekly report in an email that provides a breakdown per view. For ongoing projects, this helps track and maintain AWS costs. This acts as a soft alarm for the owners of the account to manage costs if they cross the threshold.

Roadmap

Vantage is a relatively new product and they are growing fast! The team at Vantage is working continuously to roll out new features. Here is a preview of this year’s roadmap.

A few days back they already launched Cloud Pricing API. This powerful feature gets me excited the most. Pricing API allows you to have programmatic access to check the latest price for a given cloud provider’s service.

Currently, they support EC2 and RDS “price sheet” programmatically. This development is based on acquiring EC2instances.info, this February. This can enable developers to program the cost optimization principles in their automated processes.

Additionally, the work is also in progress for budgeting and anomaly detection of cloud costs and cost optimization recommendations.

By the end of this year, Vantage also plans to introduce integration with other cloud providers. So if your infrastructure is spread across multiple clouds, you could have a single Vantage point for all.

Technical stack

Vantage is a Ruby on Rails application with PostgreSQL as a database layer. Front-end built-in StimulusJS.

To conclude

When asked about being in competition with AWS Costing tools, Ben’s response is as below:

“I don’t see us as a competitor, we’re extremely complimentary. Vantage is a great companion app to anyone who has a certain threshold of complexity with their infrastructure, resources and costs. If we did think about it in that regard, we would probably lose because, from a feature parity perspective, it’s nearly impossible to compete with the thousands of engineers they have.”

… and that makes sense. However, I would like to go a step ahead and highlight the importance of 3rd party tooling here. Tools like Vantage are vendor-neutral. They usually break the barriers of vendor lock-in issues — due to which it makes a lot of sense to invest in their services.

If you deal with cloud infrastructure in any way, you should check out Vantage. They even have a Starter pricing plan which is free forever!

Do let me know your views and experiences with Vantage and if there are any specific topics you would like me to cover with respect to this.

Originally published at http://letsdotech.dev on May 3, 2021.

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