Avoiding Cost Traps in Cloud Monitoring
April 10, 2024

Martin Hirschvogel
Checkmk

Share this

Choosing the right approach is critical with cloud monitoring in hybrid environments. Otherwise, you may drive up costs with features you don’t need and risk diminishing the visibility of your on-premises IT.

The complexity of IT infrastructures is constantly growing as organizations continue to combine cloud-based services with on-premises or edge IT infrastructure and adopt Kubernetes or serverless computing services. To ensure that their hybrid IT infrastructure performs optimally, ITOps teams need a monitoring solution that is capable of providing comprehensive visibility while easing their burden.

Different Monitoring Requirements

To avoid blind spots and budget bloat, there are two main questions ITOps needs to consider:

What applications and resources do we run in which part of the infrastructure?

And what monitoring requirements result from this?

This is especially important when considering cloud monitoring solutions. While they provide numerous functions for monitoring applications and computing resources residing in the cloud, they have limitations when it comes to monitoring on-premises environments. So, by operating all their business-critical IT assets locally and "only" virtual machines in the cloud, organizations would risk driving up expenses and impacting IT operations by implementing cloud monitoring.

NonTransparent Pricing Models

Even if an organization is running mission-critical workloads in the cloud, choosing a cloud monitoring solution can quickly result in costs that are unexpected, but ultimately avoidable. This is due to cloud monitoring providers' sometimes opaque billing models that impose a kind of penalty tax on the benefits of the cloud, such as flexibility and scalability. When you add subscriptions for additional features to the high base fee for the software, the initial cost quickly becomes unmanageable.

A virtual server in a popular configuration costs about $100 per month from a hyperscaler. Basic monitoring for such a host typically starts at $15 to $30 from cloud monitoring providers, and the cost can be many times higher depending on the desired feature set and sizing. Even simple monitoring of the operating system can quickly add up to at least 30 percent of the hosting bill.

Expensive Host-Based Billing

Host-based billing may seem simple at first glance. Yet the question arises as to whether host-based billing makes sense at all in a serverless world with managed services, etc., where hosts no longer play a major role.

Also, in a serverless world with managed services from cloud providers, it is difficult to quantify hosts. In the end, this will inevitably lead to the gradual introduction of secondary pricing metrics and, from the user's perspective, to costs that are difficult to predict and a lack of price transparency.

The conceptual problems of host-based pricing are particularly evident in the fact that many monitoring providers have introduced limits and additional price dimensions. For example, in some cases only a certain number of containers per host are included in cloud monitoring. However, this limit is usually quickly exceeded and additional fees apply for each additional container.

Artificial Limits and Custom Metrics

Custom metrics, which allow special data to be included in monitoring, can also quickly drive up costs. This is especially the case if custom metrics are essential for monitoring and you can only obtain useful monitoring by adding them. Artificial currencies or units in monitoring, such as those used to retrieve custom metrics, logs, or user-defined events, and which have complex conversion formulas, also do not necessarily provide a transparent view of costs.

Monitoring costs also vary depending on the cloud provider. For example, with a hyperscaler, all of the API calls that are required to monitor the cloud services cost money. With another provider, the API calls may be free, but you may run into rate limits. These are all cost factors that should be taken into account from the outset when choosing a monitoring solution.

Evaluating a cloud monitoring solution also includes ensuring that the solution supports all of the necessary features and services. Essential features, such as an SSO solution based on the SAML standard, should not be reserved for the higher-tier product and the associated more expensive plan levels.

Wrong Incentives and Exclusive Access

The pricing model of a good monitoring solution should also not create incentives to compromise on infrastructure architecture for cost reasons. For example, if an organization has to pay per monitoring instance, there is a strong temptation to save costs by minimizing the number of instances. However, there is a risk that the monitoring will not scale with the company's infrastructure — negating a key benefit of the cloud.

The goal of IT monitoring is to provide critical insight into IT infrastructure health and performance. Access to monitoring is critical for various teams to gain important insights for their daily work and to ensure smooth IT operations. However, charging on a per-user basis for monitoring could result in this information being made available only to an exclusive group to keep costs down. As a result, responsible individuals and teams would be denied visibility into the IT assets that are important to them, and the monitoring would be of no value to them.

Avoiding Cost Traps

A look at the market shows that the pricing of many monitoring vendors can quickly blow the monitoring budget due to hidden costs or subsequent price drivers — or even encourage the creation of poor IT architectures. If you are not careful, you can quickly end up paying 30 percent of your computing costs for monitoring. For comparison, common benchmarks suggest that ITOps should spend no more than 3 to 15 percent of its IT budget on observability, depending on the industry and the size of the organization.

Organizations should develop clear strategies and understand which business areas are running and will run on which parts of their IT architecture. Only by understanding your cloud and on-premises monitoring needs can you find a tailored solution with a precise and predictable pricing model, rather than paying a lot of money for an oversized solution that may not fit your infrastructure.

Martin Hirschvogel is Chief Product Officer at Checkmk
Share this

The Latest

May 23, 2024

Hybrid cloud architecture is breaking the backs of network engineering and operations teams. These teams are more successful when their companies go all-in with the cloud or stay out of it entirely. When companies maintain hybrid infrastructure, with applications and data residing across data centers and public cloud services, the network team struggles. This insight emerged in the newly published 2024 edition of Enterprise Management Associates' (EMA) Network Management Megatrends research ...

May 22, 2024

As IT practitioners, we often find ourselves fighting fires rather than proactively getting ahead ... Many spend countless hours managing several tools that give them different, fractured views of their own work — which isn't an effective use of time. Balancing daily technical tasks with long-term company goals requires a three-step approach. I'll share these steps and tips for others to do the same ...

May 21, 2024

IT service outages are more than a minor inconvenience. They can cost businesses millions while simultaneously leading to customer dissatisfaction and reputational damage. Moreover, the constant pressure of dealing with fire drills and escalations day and night can take a heavy toll on ITOps teams, leading to increased stress, human error, and burnout ...

May 20, 2024

Amid economic disruption, fintech competition, and other headwinds in recent years, banks have had to quickly adjust to the demands of the market. This adaptation is often reliant on having the right technology infrastructure in place ...

May 17, 2024

In MEAN TIME TO INSIGHT Episode 6, Shamus McGillicuddy, VP of Research, Network Infrastructure and Operations, at EMA discusses network automation ...

May 16, 2024

In the ever-evolving landscape of software development and infrastructure management, observability stands as a crucial pillar. Among its fundamental components lies log collection ... However, traditional methods of log collection have faced challenges, especially in high-volume and dynamic environments. Enter eBPF, a groundbreaking technology ...

May 15, 2024

Businesses are dazzled by the promise of generative AI, as it touts the capability to increase productivity and efficiency, cut costs, and provide competitive advantages. With more and more generative AI options available today, businesses are now investigating how to convert the AI promise into profit. One way businesses are looking to do this is by using AI to improve personalized customer engagement ...

May 14, 2024

In the fast-evolving realm of cloud computing, where innovation collides with fiscal responsibility, the Flexera 2024 State of the Cloud Report illuminates the challenges and triumphs shaping the digital landscape ... At the forefront of this year's findings is the resounding chorus of organizations grappling with cloud costs ...

May 13, 2024

Government agencies are transforming to improve the digital experience for employees and citizens, allowing them to achieve key goals, including unleashing staff productivity, recruiting and retaining talent in the public sector, and delivering on the mission, according to the Global Digital Employee Experience (DEX) Survey from Riverbed ...

May 09, 2024

App sprawl has been a concern for technologists for some time, but it has never presented such a challenge as now. As organizations move to implement generative AI into their applications, it's only going to become more complex ... Observability is a necessary component for understanding the vast amounts of complex data within AI-infused applications, and it must be the centerpiece of an app- and data-centric strategy to truly manage app sprawl ...