Bitmovin Optimizes Multi-Cloud Spending and Usage with Apptio Cloudability

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“We quickly realized it required a lot of effort to go into each cloud provider tool, find the billings, find the current costs, and summarize them. We needed to find a way to monitor it with less effort.”

Stefan Gruber
Vice President of Engineering, Bitmovin

Learn how Bitmovin uses the Apptio Cloudability cloud cost management platform to monitor and control their multi-cloud spending and cost insights to help them lower customer acquisition costs.

The Challenge

Automating tagging challenges to improve multi-cloud cost management

Bitmovin is a SaaS company that provides video encoding, playback, and analytics. Their entire product and business value is based on cloud services, often spanning multiple cloud service providers including AWS, Azure, and GCP. With a multitude of billing files, discounts, and prepaid services, monitoring and controlling these multi-cloud costs at scale gets complicated.

Bitmovin needed a best-of-breed cloud cost management platform to help them:

  1. Improve tagging coverage across AWS, Azure, and GCP (Tag incomplete or missing resources, allocate untagged resources)
  2. Allocate their cloud costs to specific customers to help calculate their cost per customer
  3. Identify and shut off dev and test instances that were left running
  4. Monitor and control their multi-cloud costs from one dashboard

The Solution

Finding a best-in-class multi-cloud cost management platform

As a SaaS product, cloud costs across multiple providers became quite substantial across their entire business. Stefan Gruber, VP Engineering, discovered that it took a lot of time and effort to go into AWS, Azure, and GCP to track down their billing information and summarize the costs.

They evaluated multi-cloud cost management tools that could help them monitor and control cloud spend with less time and effort. They needed to respond to growing executive concerns about increasing cloud spend and find a better way to monitor and control those costs. “Our executive leaders started to get concerned with how much we were spending on cloud. Only then, we began to monitor our costs,” said Gruber. “We quickly realized it required a lot of effort to go into each cloud provider tool, find the billings, find the current costs, and summarize them. We needed to find a way to monitor it with less effort.”

Through Apptio Cloudability, Bitmovin can measure the cloud portion of customer acquisition costs, giving them a deeper look at how to optimize cloud to impact costs. They could also take their cloud cost data and insights further by utilizing Business Mappings to translate cloud costs into how they actually affect Bitmovin’s bottom line.

Building a multi-cloud view from one vantage point

Before finding Cloudability, the Bitmovin team tried a DIY approach using AWS, Azure, and GCP tools separately. This approach was an inefficient use of engineering time and resources, as their teams needed to go through the billing data of each cloud provider tool one-by-one, locate the invoices, and compile and summarize the data in spreadsheets.

They soon recognized that it would be much better to monitor and optimize costs in one place. Add in the complexity of customers being able to choose the cloud service provider of their choice, and this manual effort becomes difficult to scale.

By using Cloudability, Bitmovin leverages the data analytics engine and tagging features to improve cloud cost allocation and promote better cost visibility, accountability, and collaboration between teams. Manual work is reduced, cloud resources are thoroughly tagged and allocated, and Bitmovin’s teams get a clearer sense of what they’re utilizing on the cloud and how much it costs.

Eliminating wasted resources on multiple cloud service providers

Before using a best-in-breed cloud cost management solution, Bitmovin’s engineering and DevOps teams experienced a disconnect between what they thought they were spending versus what they were actually spending on cloud services. “Mostly, we had stuff running that we weren’t aware of. There were test instances where we tried things out and were running endlessly and no one remembered to turn them off,” said Gruber.

Within the first two months of deploying Cloudability, they were able to identify and shut off all forgotten Dev/Test instances – helping them realize significant savings.

This is before adopting rightsizing recommendations and finding the optimal commitment strategy, e.g. AWS Reserved Instances and Savings Plans.

Creating common ground for multi-cloud cost management

The Cloudability platform enables engineers, finance teams, and DevOps to have access to the same cloud cost and utilization data, enabling better collaboration on tracking down cloud consumption, managing the unit economics of cloud, and ultimately, running their business more efficiently.

The Business Mappings and Metrics feature allows Bitmovin’s teams to take cloud costs beyond a monthly bill, turning them into cost insights to map against real business goals. Using their multi-cloud cost data, Bitmovin’s teams can map cloud costs against customer growth metrics and see how cloud costs affect their cost per customer. This allows them to make better decisions on how to drive the business forward and efficiently acquire new customers.

Bitmovin uses Cloudability’s Tagging and Business Mappings capabilities to help them accurately calculate their customer acquisition cost (CAC), which is something they could not achieve using other cloud provider tools. “A unique selling point for us was tagging; you can tag cloud costs to a specific customer. This is an area where we’ve invested a lot of engineering time in the past and it’s very important for us to know what services each customer uses and how long they use it. This allows us to accurately calculate how much it costs per customer.”

This creates common ground between finance and engineers, a shared lens to discuss cloud strategy, and builds a strong foundation for FinOps at Bitmovin.

Leaving no multi-cloud cost stone unturned

Running a single cloud service provider at scale yields many complexities in cost management, let alone using multiple services. Bitmovin uses Cloudability’s various features to not only manage multiple cloud spending, but also identify waste and ensure every resource is tagged properly.

Bitmovin uses Business Mappings and its rules-based engine to categorize spending to individuals or teams and automate tagging compliance across those specific cloud environments. This also allowed them to fully allocate their cloud consumption to individual customers. Costs could be allocated even with incomplete tags, leading to increased cloud cost accountability.

Even custom pricing rules are no match for Bitmovin’s growing FinOps practice, backed by Cloudability. As Enterprise Discount Program (EDP) users on AWS, Bitmovin can use Business Mappings to monitor these rates (rather than waiting for the monthly bill) to be proactive about forecasting around these custom-pricing rules. As a result, their DevOps and finance teams can view their actual, post-discount costs and rates updated in near real time.

Building a strong FinOps practice for the future

As Bitmovin’s multi-cloud costs continue to grow as their business scales, they can be confident in how they monitor it, allocate those costs back to cost centers, and align those costs against real business KPIs using Cloudability. This foundation for better FinOps opens the doors for future multi-cloud cost optimization, for both infrastructure optimization and ensuring they’re getting the best rates possible on their services.

What’s next for Bitmovin’s Cloud Financial Management practice:

Extending deep tag coverage to GCP: One priority for Bitmovin is to increase tag coverage of their GCP workloads. Learning from what they’ve done successfully with AWS, they want to extend that level of cloud cost accountability to their GCP infrastructure.

Implementing multi-cloud budget planning and forecasting with Cloudability: Bitmovin wants to continue using Cloudability to help them with month-to-month cloud budget planning. As they continue to increase tagging coverage within other cloud service providers, they can hone in on what their teams actually spend and use, fueling Cloudability’s forecasting features. They can also better forecast and predict what type of Reserved Instance or other prepaid service savings vehicles to use across multiple clouds.

Strengthening cloud cost accountability with all users: Currently, Bitmovin’s cloud cost culture places emphasis on engineering leaders and leadership to check budgets and monitor costs. Their next steps will be to democratize access to Cloudability and the insights to empower all engineers to improve their cloud cost visibility. This can include simple tactics like having visibility and using Cloudability notifications to remind developers to turn off test instances or to reduce costs.

Increasing cloud cost visibility to all teams via showback: By implementing showback, and training other leaders to utilize Cloudability, Bitmovin can curb irresponsible cloud consumption and lower costs. Teams can now see how much they use on various cloud service providers and understand why they need to keep tabs on these costs and how to improve efficiency over time.

If your company is ready to both optimize multi-cloud spending as well as empowering business teams to leverage cloud cost insights to improve the bottom line, it’s time to explore a best-of-breed cloud cost management platform such as Apptio Cloudability. Get in touch for a free trial today.

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