Managing the Cost of Kubernetes
Kubernetes environments can grow very quickly, and with that growth comes rising costs. In the Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF) FinOps for Kubernetes survey, 68% of respondents said Kubernetes costs are rising, and half of that group experience an increase of more than 20% per year.
One of the factors driving cost is the self-service deployment feature made available to developers. While this practice can accelerate application deployment, costs often spiral out of control because developers typically allocate maximum storage, CPU and memory to avoid performance problems.
Autoscaling of cloud native environments is another factor driving cost. While developers often write scripts to automatically deploy environments, they do not have a similar automated mechanism to tear down those environments. So the automation process is constantly deploying, but those resources are not always being used.
One of the challenges of Kubernetes is the inability to see what is going on in the environment without going to the command line and running a series of commands. In the same way, it can be difficult to see how much you are spending on Kubernetes. For medium- to large-size enterprises, these runaway costs can range from tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands of dollars per month.
The Challenges of Managing Kubernetes Costs
Surprisingly, even though Kubernetes environments continue to grow and consume resources, most organizations do not keep track of how much they are actually spending. In the CNCF survey, 69% of respondents said they do not monitor Kubernetes spending at all, or they rely on monthly estimates.
If you are not monitoring Kubernetes costs in any way, you are blind to where cloud resources are over-allocated. On the other hand, trying to calculate Kubernetes costs using your cloud provider bills and manual spreadsheets is time-consuming, inefficient and usually inaccurate. This method may identify some sort of overall cost issue in the environment, but that doesn’t help if you don’t know exactly what is causing the increase in your bill.
Another downside to the manual method is slow reaction time. Without real-time visibility into cost overruns, you cannot respond to sudden cost spikes in a timely manner. Waiting until you get a surprise in your monthly bill can have a real impact on your bottom line.
A few open source tools are available to help manage Kubernetes costs, but they require additional Prometheus servers to be set up in order to get the metrics needed to allocate costs. This can lead to teams spending a lot of time configuring and maintaining their cost monitoring solution rather than resolving important business problems.
Must-Have Capabilities for Kubernetes Cost Management
Kubernetes cost management is a critical capability for all cloud native teams. To truly gain control over Kubernetes costs, you need a commercial solution with deep Kubernetes visibility that provides everything out of the box, enabling you to get up and running in minutes with minimal configuration.
The following are essential capabilities you should look for when choosing a Kubernetes cost management solution:
Correlation of Utilization, Performance and Cost Data
The right Kubernetes cost management solution will accurately map utilization and performance information to costs. By combining this data into a single tool, you gain immediate, correlated cost visibility. This type of solution will enable administrators to make right-sizing decisions without worrying about impacting performance.
A Kubernetes cost management tool should enable you to drill down into the layers of your environment — such as the namespace and workload — so you can see exactly how each application is impacting your costs. This also allows you to show individual teams how much their environment is costing their department or the company.
The right solution should automatically provide time-saving features, like a list of the most costly components of your environment in stack-ranked order, so you know what to address first.
The real-time aspect of Kubernetes cost management is paramount. A solution should alert you to abnormal cost spikes in real time so you can investigate the issue right away and remediate it, rather than waiting for a monthly report. In some cases, these spikes indicate a cyberattack, which also requires a rapid response.
An optimal cost management tool will automatically integrate with cloud providers and Kubernetes, with no additional components to configure or manage in order to get the most ROI.
Proactive Recommendations for Cost Savings
Most importantly, the ideal Kubernetes cost management solution will provide actionable recommendations for cost-related configuration settings in your environment. More than just exposing your costs, the tool should reveal how much you can save by making specific changes to your configurations. This is the real value of a cost management solution that delivers bottom-line benefits.
Benefits of Cost Management
The right Kubernetes cost management tool can deliver the following benefits:
Saving Money by Reducing Wasted Resources
A recent Sysdig analysis found that most organizations can reduce wasted Kubernetes resources by an average of 40%. Depending on the size of the environment, using the right cost-management tool could lead to hundreds of thousands of dollars in savings every month.
Improving Cost-Management Efficiency
An effective Kubernetes cost management solution will also significantly reduce the time it takes to correlate cloud provider bills with Kubernetes infrastructure or hierarchy. This enables your team to spend their time on more productive tasks, such as solving business problems and innovating new products and features.
Achieving a Balance Between Performance and Cost
Driving down costs is not the only benefit — you need to find the right balance between cost and performance. A Kubernetes cost-management tool that can determine this for you will remove the guesswork.
Controlling Cost Spikes
The ability to get cost-related alerts from a Kubernetes cost-management tool provides vital real-time visibility, enabling you to take immediate corrective action when you experience a sudden cost spike before you get your monthly bill.
Cost management is not always the priority of your developers — they are focused on bringing high-quality products and features to market faster than your competition. But cost management is still imperative. Just ask your CFO! The right solution can make Kubernetes cost management timely, proactive, cost-effective and effortless, enabling you to achieve the perfect balance between cost and performance.