AWS Fails to Impress With Revamped Dashboard

    October 4, 2016

    By Tony  MacDonald

    The new AWS Management Console fails to improve compute and spend transparency, according to critics, rendering it a limited solution to your cloud computing needs.

    As part of an ongoing renovation of their application suite, Amazon Web Services recently launched an updated version of their Management Console. Many expected the revamped console, a dashboard designed to track AWS compute and spend, to address certain issues plaguing AWS services: primarily, a lack of transparency regarding performance and cost efficiency.

    However, despite certain improvements, issues of opacity continue to plague the platform. In many ways, this shows that such issues aren’t easily resolvable when all relevant data remains in the hands of the cloud service provider. Unless dashboards like the AWS Management Console provide a holistic view of a user’s entire infrastructure, they will remain limited.

    Criticism Old and New

    Back in May 2013, AWS Insider published Aaron Black’s piece, “Do You Have a Handle on Your AWS Costs,” which discussed the substantial costs that remain invisible to many AWS users.

    Just like with your credit card issuer, there can be ‘hidden’ fees with AWS that you don't realize until you get the bill,” writes Black. “For instance, data download costs. It's easy to get you to upload data — it's unlimited and free! However, the more you upload, the more data storage costs you incur. Also, if you want the data out to you or a collaborator outside your organization, that will cost you, too (though you can check a box for an external user and have them billed for the cost).”

    The revamped Management Console should have cleared up some of this confusion. Instead, billing implementation remains basic and reveals too few details about users’ spend. The dashboard doesn’t inform users how much traffic is passing through AWS at any one time, making comprehensive spend analysis difficult, if not impossible.

    In addition, the Management Console still fails to provide dashboards for all AWS apps. As Napsty’s Evin Callahan notes, “With some effort you can come up with a CloudWatch dashboard to show you some info about your systems… But it's not easy, and it doesn't include stuff like a filtered list of EC2 instances, contents of S3 (Simple Storage Service) buckets, or info about running ECS (EC2 Container Service) instances.”

    A proper console demands more comprehensive reporting with less effort on the part of the user, since metrics pulled from only one or a few environments will always be limited and frustrating. So why hasn’t AWS delivered? Quite simply, they have chosen opacity over transparency.

    Luckily, there are other options.

    A More Effective Solution

    The Management Console fails because it doesn’t disclose all of AWS’s compute and spend data. This issue is a troubling one, since dashboards need to provide all data to IT — otherwise, your company may become one of the many that habitually overspend on the cloud.

    Solutions such as TeamQuest’s Vityl Dashboard solve this issue by integrating, consolidating, and transforming IT and business metrics from any data source into actionable information. All apps are clearly displayed in a readable format, meaning that no information is invisible to the user. Additionally, Vityl Dashboard helps users understand exactly how money is being spent, so cloud budgeting and management doesn’t have to be a guessing game.

    This won’t solve the issue of public cloud transparency, but it will provide your company with a comprehensive view of your IT infrastructure. Users don’t need to accept a management solution that fails to provide necessary information — nor should they.