Documentation and Best Practices

Learn how to use Cloudability and get the most out of our cloud cost management tool

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AWS Cost Analytics

Cloudability Cost Analytics let you drill into your spending patterns and see what’s driving your costs with intuitive reports that are both comprehensive and instantly digestible. 

In this article, we'll discuss:

  1. When to use Cost Analytics versus Usage Analytics
  2. Building your first Cost report
  3. Filtering reports
  4. Charting multiple lines
  5. Time period comparisons


1. When to use Cost Analytics versus Utilization Analytics

Cost (termed Cost & Usage in the app) and Utilization Analytics are both powerful reporting tools to help you drill into your AWS data. Here's what each one is best at: 

Cost Analytics: Use Cost Analytics for all financial reporting where you need to see what you are actually spending.  Cost Analytics uses data from the Detailed Billing Reports files presenting accurate cost data based on what AWS bills you.  It factors in any discounts or credits you receive such as volume discounts or reserved instances. This article is primarily about cost analytics but a lot of the same principles apply to utilization analytics.

Utilization Analytics: Use Utilization Analytics to determine utilization patterns for EC2 instances. Utilization Analytics uses data from AWS Cloudwatch presenting instance-level details such as Average CPU utilization(%), Bandwidth, and Disk I/O. Utilization analytics are great for visualizing overall elasticity and whether your instances require rightsizing or need to be turned off.

Cost metrics available in Utilization Analytics are calculated in Cloudability using on-demand rates and cover only the compute portion of your bill (i.e., the billable instance hours but not bandwidth/storage/etc).  As such, and should be used for trending only, not financial reporting.

In order for Utilization Analytics to access this data, a proper IAM policy needs to be added for each linked account. Detailed instructions are available in How to Set Up Amazon IAM (Identity Account Management).


2. Building your first Cost report

Custom reports can be created using up to ten dimensions and ten metrics. A report must have at least one dimension and one metric. Custom reports can either be created from scratch or existing reports can be modified and saved. 

Dimensions and Metrics

The building blocks of cost and utilization reports are dimensions and metrics. In a simple sense, dimensions describe data and metrics measure data. Although dimensions and metrics and can stand alone, typically the relationship between dimension and metric values are what create the most meaning in your data. In Cloudability reports, one or more dimensions are measured through multiple metrics. Filters can be applied to further narrow results.

Metrics are attributes that relate to a dimension and will have an inbuilt aggregation method. For example, the dimension Instance Type can be associated with a metric like Cost(Total), which would display the total costs accumulated by each instance type.

You can learn about some of our most popular dimensions and metrics here. For a comprehensive list of all available dimensions and metrics, check our Glossary

Creating a new report

To create a new report click on the "+" button in the left column. You'll then have to click to add dimensions and metrics. After you've selected up to 10 dimensions and 10 metrics, you can generate the report by clicking "Apply."

To walk through building some basic Cost Analytics reports, click here

Modifying existing reports

Any report can be modified by clicking on the "Customize Report" button. Cloudability can display up to ten columns of dimensions and ten columns of metrics. 

To remove columns from an existing report, click on the x button to remove the column. 

To add a column, click on the + button in the header for either dimensions or metrics. 

Saving reports

To save a report, click on the report name field above the chart and type in a name. Then, click the Save button. The date range is also saved with the report. If a value such as yesterday, last week, or last month is selected then the report will dynamically update when viewed to always show data relative to the current date. If a custom date range with a specific start and end date is defined then the saved report will preserve the custom date range.

Saved reports will appear in the left menu by default as favorited reports, and can be unfavorited by de-starring the report by clicking on the star itself. You can access a full list of all of your starred and un-starred reports by clicking the "View all reports" button. 

IMPORTANT: If you want to save a new report based off a previously saved report, make sure you click the duplicate button first. Otherwise, when you save your changes, you'll overwrite your old report. The duplicate option is under the 'hamburger menu' on the top right-hand side.


3. Filtering Reports

Filtering enables you to only show results that match specific criteria. For example, you may want to only report on a specific tag value or type of cloud service. 

To add a filter, click on the + button next to the Filter label. 

Reports can be filtered by both dimensions (e.g. a tag) and metrics (e.g. Cost(Total)). Select either button to display filtering categories for either Dimensions or Metrics.

Click on a specific dimension or metric to then define the filter criteria.

[Load this report in Cloudability]

The following criteria are available for all filters:

  • equals
  • does not equal
  • less than
  • less than or equals
  • greater than
  • less than or equals
  • contains
  • does not contain

Select the desired criteria and value. For example:

  • Product Name is Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud
  • Usage Type contains EBS
  • Instance Type equals c4.2xlarge
  • Usage Hours greater than 24
  • tag contains projectcode

AND & OR Operators

Adding two filters for the same dimension or metric will result in an OR operator. Adding a filter for an additional dimension or metric will result in an AND operator.

For example:

In other words, a resource would need to either be named Nimbus or Cumulus and would need to be in the Prod environment.


4. Charting multiple lines

If you're trying to identify why your AWS bill went up or down, you can use Cloudability's multi-line graphing abilities to see how each line item changes over time.

It's easy; just click the checkboxes next to each line in your report. 

You can use multi-line graphing to split out tags, business units, linked accounts or anything else you pulled into your Cloudability AWS report.

Finally, be sure to click the Hide Aggregate link to see your selected line items in more detail by removing the top aggregate spend line.

5. Time period comparisons

Time Period Comparisons allow you to graph multiple time periods on a single report.

Compare date ranges with the time period picker

Date picker

Choose from our pre-selected date ranges or customize your own to compare the precise date ranges that you need. If you'd like, you can compare time periods of different lengths. 

Compare trends graphically

Cloudability time period comparisons

Once you've picked your time periods, you'll see both compared visually on a graph of both time periods on one chart.  

View Percent and Net change across any metric

View by net or percent

You can drill down into your comparison by Percent or Net change with the line items below. As with any standard Cost or Utilization report, you can filter these data points by the metrics and dimensions that interest you.


For more information on AWS Cost Analytics, check out these resources: 


Glossary of dimensions and metrics

Top dimensions and metrics

Sample Cost Allocation Reports

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