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Better Managing Cost in AWS with Budgets Actions

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Recently, AWS announced budgets actions, allowing customers to define actions to take when a budget exceeds its threshold (actual or forecasted amounts). With budget actions, customers will have more control over their AWS Budgets in order to reduce unintentional overspending in their AWS accounts.

AWS Budgets allow customers to set custom budgets to track their cost and usage of AWS resources. Furthermore, they can, for instance, choose to be alerted by email or SNS notification when actual or forecasted cost and usage exceed their budget threshold. Now with the new Budget actions feature they can also configure actions to respond to cost and usage status in their accounts – which means that actions will be applied automatically or via a workflow approval process once a budget target has been exceeded.

Through the AWS Budgets, Dashboard users can create budgets, configure thresholds, and define actions. Note that for each threshold users can set up to five budget thresholds with up to 10 actions. For a budget action, a user can apply as action type either an IAM policy or a Service Control Policy or specific EC2 or RDS running resources in their account. And finally, the user can decide if he or she wants the action to execute automatically, or via a workflow approval process. 

The authors of the blog post on AWS Budgets Actions wrote:

Our default recommendation is a workflow approval process, but if you know without a doubt, you want to execute your action without human intervention, select the toggle to “Yes” for automatic execution.


For budget actions that require workflow approval, once an action has been trigged for your budget, you will see a “pending” status on your budgets dashboard as well as a budget action notification via email, Simple Notification Service Topic, or Slack/Chime if you’ve configured the AWS Chatbot to receive AWS Budgets notifications.

With regards to the action types: IAM and SCP action types reset at the beginning of each budgeted period (e.g., monthly) while actions targeted at specific EC2 or RDS running instances will not reset. Furthermore, all AWS Budgets functionality can be accessed programmatically via the AWS Budgets API.


Other public cloud vendors offer cost management services on their platform as well, including budget capabilities. Google, on its cloud platform, offers GCP Budgets with the ability to set budgets and create alerts. Similarly, Azure also offers budget management, including creating alerts with their cost management and billing services. However, unlike AWS, neither provide the means to take actions on behalf of the customers to turn off services. All Cloud providers do offer APIs to manage budgets.

Holger Mueller, principal analyst and vice president at Constellation Research Inc., told InfoQ:

One of the first cloud concerns is the lack of control over usage and related budget spend. Allowing enterprises not only architectural but also commercial elasticity is a crucial innovation for the IaaS players, and AWS is putting AWS Budget Actions forward. As with all new software releases - some degree of caution needs to be exerted, and a focus on the next releases/roadmap is advised. But at the end of the day, enterprises need to find ways to tie their IT spend with their business performance - when they do well, they can spend more, when they do not so well, and use fewer resources, they also need/want to spend less. The cloud is the key enabler to achieve that on a platform level - but it requires the adoption of the business and IT processes to get more tightly connected.

Lastly, AWS customers can learn more about AWS Budgets through the documentation website and find guidance AWS Cost Management landing page.

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