The cloud makes it easier for developers to run complex applications, but all of this convenience often comes at the expense of being able to easily track cost. Today, Google is making it a bit easier to monitor and analyze how much running an application on its Cloud Platform costs.
Currently, the only way to get this data is through the Google Cloud Console. That works, but what if you want to build your own tools to monitor, analyze and – maybe most importantly – optimize cost? The new Billing API now allows developers to programmatically access usage and cost estimates so they can include this data in their own internal dashboards and tools.
This isn’t real-time data, though. Once a day, the information is stored as a JSON or CSV file in a Google Cloud Storage bucket and from there, it is accessible through the Cloud Storage API or Google’s command line tools.
Amazon, it is worth noting, also offers a very similar tool for getting billing data from its Web Services. The AWS Account Billing API uses Amazon’s S3 storage service to save a CSV file with billing data that developers can then access from their own apps.
Clearly, there is demand for this information. Cloudability and others are currently building their businesses on top of the fact that most cloud services feature rather complicated billing schemes (just ask anybody who is building apps on top of AWS if they fully understand their bills). It doesn’t look like Google or Amazon are about to release similar services anytime soon, so until then, it’s up to developers to either use a third-party service to analyze their usage data or to build their own tools.