Cloud Cost Questions for Engineering Managers

Karl Cardenas
7 min readNov 6, 2021
Photo by Michael Longmire

You have assumed the leadership of a team that is operating in a cloud environment. It’s a new beginning, you are excited about the future (hopefully), the team members, and most of all, the thrill of a new challenge. After the excitement settles down you start asking questions to better understand the work and the team. Among the list of questions you have, you should include questions pertaining to cloud cost and cost optimization.

In this article, you will find a set of questions that are beneficial for you and your team to further explore. These are questions I have found beneficial in the past and I believe they will be beneficial to you too. Without further ado, let’s dive into it.

Q: Do we have any budget alarms established?

This is a simple question but the answer will reveal a lot of information about the team, the organization, and the emphasis placed on cost management. The ideal answer is “yes”, and depending on the maturity of the team, and the organization you might find out that there are several layers of budget alarms. Sometimes, these budgets are for different services and environments. If you are in the ”yes” camp, give the team kudos 👏

For those of you who find yourself in the “no” camp ⛺️ , don’t despair. Yes, there is a lot of work to do here, but it’s also an opportunity to stand out, and raise the standard. All major cloud providers offer the ability to set budget alarms. There are many ways to use the budget alarms, but the primary reason you want to use alarms is for cost awareness and to change behavior. Yes, behavior change. You want to get you and your team to take a moment and ask themselves “what impact will this change have on the budget”. The alarms help remind the team to act more responsibly from a financial perspective. If there is no set budget, then review the billing information for the past three to six months and identify a baseline/average.

Budgets are not a one-and-done kind of deal. Budgets are a moving goal and should be reviewed often. You want to aim for a goal but the reality is that accurately forecasting cost is difficult and often subject to change due to many external factors. As you and your team develop a good understanding of what the major cost drivers are, you…

Karl Cardenas

is a Software Developer with a passion in automation and teaching others the art of "DevOps".