AWS Billing Conductor First Impressions·
AWS Billing Conductor (ABC) is a new service that I believe is primarily intended as a way for resellers to create “Pro-forma” CURs (Cost and Usage Reports) for their customers that include custom AWS pricing (both markups and discounts) along with custom line items. I took it for a brief spin today.
My organization is looking at it to bring (more) accurate pricing into a cost reporting tool we’re evaluating, especially for AWS accounts under the NIH STRIDES program, which has significant discounts that vary by service.
The way you set it up is basically:
- (Optional) In the organization management account, grant a principal (user or role) access to the ABC service via IAM policy
- Create “pricing rules” that reflect either global or per-service discounts/markups
- Create “pricing plans” that combine one or more pricing rules
- Create a “billing group”, associate accounts with the billing group, and assign it a pricing plan. Also you must designate a “primary account”, which cannot be the management account. Note also accounts can only be associated with one billing group.
- In the primary account, create a new CUR.
I had high hopes for this service but it feels half-baked at the moment. Namely:
- New accounts must be manually associated with a billing group. I’d like to designate a “default” billing group per organization that all new accounts get associated with automatically.
- The discounts/markups can only be applied globally or per-service. There is no way to go down to the per-usage-type level, which makes this pretty useless for our specific use case (zeroing out all data transfer out costs since they are waived for STRIDES accounts).
- It’s basically impossible to predict how much this thing will cost you. The free tier seems generous (1MM “pro-forma records” free per month) but your organization is likely generating many more records than this and the only way to estimate is to generate a new CUR and count the line items.
- In the primary account’s Cost and Usage Report console, there is no visual indication that the CUR you are generating will reflect the pro-forma pricing that was set up for your billing group.
Like many AWS service launches, there’s the beginnings of a really useful service here but it will take a few release cycles to sand down the rough edges.
This turned out to be shockingly expensive. A billing group containing all accounts in our moderately sized AWS organization (~100 accounts) cost $1645 the day after I enabled it. Interestingly the billing group only cost $61 the next day. I’m guessing this is because each resource generates a single “billing record” per month which is simply updated as the month goes along, and so the second day’s $61 must represent resources that were created that day or the day before.
I just deleted the billing group and its associated pro-forma CUR this morning (April 1st), but I fear that since we crossed into a new month we may be charged the full amount again for April.