So, a bit of a mixed Superhero’s metaphor to start this blog, but I did want to highlight some of the biggest superpowers Buttonwood has developed over the past few years to help our customers transform to the cloud without compromise.

Currency Challenges with AWS billing

One of the biggest challenges of governing cloud spend in Amazon Web Services (AWS), is understanding the impact of currency fluctuations.  For those that don’t know, AWS bills its customers in US dollars making monthly bills subject to unexpected cost variations based on volatile exchange rates.

Over the past nine months, we have seen the Australian dollar collapse from a high of 0.74c (Dec 18) to a new low reported in August 2019, of 0.67c.  That is a 14% cost blow-out in your project budget! One that often goes ‘un-managed’ and ‘unseen’ due to the complexity of cloud billing.

Let’s put that into perspective.  Many of our customers are running large environments in AWS.   On average, I would estimate spend to be more than $150,000 a month or $1.35M over the nine months.  That represents a potential budget blow-out of over $150,000 (adjusted for averages). Ouch!

So how does Buttonwood help…

Financial governance is one of Buttonwood’s many superpowers.  We provide unprecedented cost governance and reporting across several important areas including:

1. Exchange Rate Conversion

To ensure the accuracy of reporting of cloud spend, Buttonwood converts all AWS billing data to a nominated currency such as Australian Dollars (AU).  This gives our customers real insights into both the bill and converted costs and how consumption is trending over time.


2. Budget Management

In Buttonwood we don’t just report on cloud consumption.  We have implemented a comprehensive budget management process that helps govern cloud spend with the accuracy only available once currency conversation is taken into consideration.

a. Delegations – Individuals within your organisation can be assigned a series of delegations (Cost Centre Owner and Budget Manager) that carry an authorised spend limit. For example, a COST CENTRE delegate with a $500,000 delegation may create a BUDGET up to this delegated limit.   Once a BUDGET has been created it can be assigned to a BUDGET MANAGER for day to day operations.

b. Consumer – A BUDGET MANAGER has the authority to assign Consumers to a BUDGET. If you are not a Consumer, then you are not authorised to spend the available budget.

c. Reservations – Reservations are used to help manage the overall budget process. Every workload consumed against the BUDGET is fully costed before being spun up in the cloud.  If the reservation request exceeds available resources, then it is rejected by the system until funds become available.

d. Projections – Buttonwood uses big data to help BUDGET MANAGERS, understand their current and projected cloud spend. Projections are available at both the Budget level as well as the Reservation level.  Our team followed the principle that if you look after your Pennies (Reservations) the Pounds (Budget) will look after themselves.

e. Policies – The BUDGET MANAGER can create POLICIES that further help Govern cloud spend. For example, a POLICY could be created for any RESERVATION request greater than $500.  If the policy is triggered, then the BUDGET MANAGER must approve the request personally.


3. Costing a Cloud Deployment

A second superpower is Buttonwood’s ability to provide a fully costed position for any Blueprint before deployment.  This effective ‘Cloud Quote’ is used in the budget Reservation request.  As we harvest both Public and Custom Rate Cards (on-premises) as well as Microsoft Enterprise Agreements (EA) every 15 minutes, we have an unprecedented understanding of cloud cost variance in near real-time.

So if you are deploying workloads daily (CI/CD Pipeline for example), using our multi-cloud blueprints then you will benefit from ‘just in time pricing’ advantages in a volatile currency market; potentially saving you more than $150K over the past 6 months.


4. Cloud Migration

Finally, Buttonwood – if required – allows you to migrate a multi-cloud blueprint between providers to help save costs if the projected budget position exceeded available resources, but could be sourced cheaper in another cloud provider.

This type of arbitrage event is usually reserved for migrating existing on-premises workloads to cloud under governance, however, in rare cases where the egress cost is acceptable, then why not take advantage of the cost-saving available. I don’t know about you, but $150,000 is a lot of money in anyone’s books.


In summary…

When moving to a hybrid multi-cloud operating model, you must have the right financial checks and balances in place.  In a subscription-based economy, spend can quickly spiral out of control if not governed.  That brings me to Buttonwood’s final superpower: our willingness to help customers achieve their desired outcomes.

For example, we are currently working with a very large shared service provider to finalise our managed services framework of QUOTE – METER – INVOICE.  A platform offering that will truly differentiate Buttonwood across the partner community.  Stay tuned as this is the culmination of more than four years’ development work by our teams.  A truly exciting development.


Interested in finding out how you can get governance over your cloud? Contact us to find out more.

Allan King - Blog Author Bio Image - Cloud Management Platform - Buttonwood
Post by Allan King

Allan King is the Founder and Managing Director of Buttonwood, an Australian startup that wants to transform the way enterprises build and secure hybrid cloud services without unnecessary cost or complexity.

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