As a cloud architect, trying to explain to my family and friends what I do is sometimes amusing and often times a frustrating experience. Cloud is a term that is greatly overused and because of that everyone has a definition. For me, cloud is all about automation.

For end users who have had to endure extremely long procurement and delivery cycles for IT services, automation can be an intoxicating thing. Automation equals possibility… It is a powerful capability, and when used appropriately, can drive your business forward. It is all about speed, and wrapped in the economics of a public cloud model, enables businesses to try new ideas, launch new applications or expand into new geographies in a low risk way.

However, without an appropriate level of financial governance, automation can bring on storm clouds. It is not uncommon that I speak with organizations that have embraced public cloud only to have to change their course a short while later because they spent far more than originally anticipated. Pricing model transparency, or lack thereof, by a Cloud Service Provider is certainly a cause of these types of challenges. The real challenge is lack of financial governance or visibility into spend.

But don’t worry, this cloud has a silver lining…

Below is a screen shot of the CenturyLink Cloud control portal. It’s the first screen that a user sees upon login. It is all about visibility.

Looking at this screen you can see what resources are deployed in which of the global data centers, and how much your global spend is across the environment. The financial structure depicted of “month estimate,” ,“current hour” and “month-to-date”  follows you everywhere you go throughout the platform.  If you were to click on the DE1 Datacenter which has 9 servers, that financial structure would be applicable for the 9 servers in Germany. If you were to scroll down to view the lower part of the dashboard screen, you would be able to view an audit log of platform level activity. The dashboard screen is all about what is deployed where, how much it costs and who pushed the buttons.

Another challenge that we are able to elegantly solve is enabling chargeback or showback within our customers’ organizations.

In the example above there are four sub accounts underneath the parent. The parent is the “CenturyLink Cloud Compass Group”. The subs are aligned along geographic and functional lines - “Central Region,” “CFO Org,” “East Region,” and “West Region”— but they could be designed in any way that meets the internal financial reporting needs of your organization, team and application.

Users can be assigned to sub-accounts in a number of different roles. In this way a user only has access to that sub-account and everything that they deploy will be billed against that particular invoice. So, if John Smith is a developer in the East Region, and is assigned a user id underneath that sub-account, when he logs in all he will see is the east sub, none of the others nor the parent. In this way chargeback or showback is enabled, in an easy to set up manner. If you have a complex financial setup and would like some guidance on the best way to structure it, we have the capabilities to help with that as well.

If you are looking to use public cloud or are already using it, having the appropriate level of governance is one of the keys to success. Check out to experience the power of an enterprise grade cloud.