Creating a Culture of Cost Transparency and Accountability
AWS Whitepaper

Determining Cost Allocation

To help you understand your responsibility for cloud costs, use AWS tools for resource allocation. The two main mechanisms of cost allocation in AWS are linked accounts and tags.

Linked Accounts

Linked accounts let you split your AWS bill by cost center or business unit, while centralizing payment through the organizational account. Linked accounts are managed through the consolidated billing feature in AWS Organizations. With consolidated billing, you can see a combined view of AWS charges incurred by all your accounts. You can also get a cost report for each member account that is associated with your master account.

Tags

To help you manage your instances, images, and other Amazon EC2 resources, you can optionally assign your own metadata to each resource in the form of tags. Tags enable you to categorize your AWS resources in different ways, for example, by purpose, owner, or environment. You can use tags for many purposes, and they are an especially powerful way to create a lean cost culture.

AWS Cost Explorer and detailed billing reports let you analyze your AWS costs by tag. Typically, you use business tags such as cost center/business unit, customer, or project to associate AWS costs with traditional cost-allocation dimensions. However, a cost-allocation report can include any tag, which means you can easily associate costs with technical or security dimensions such as specific applications, environments, or compliance programs.

Using tags can make it easy to create usage reports specific to role, business function, application, project, and more. Your organization should create a common taxonomy as early as possible—one that embodies the organizational structure and enables easy accountability for costs. It is also important to track untagged resources because these can represent unallocated costs. Many organizations enforce tagging programmatically and even implement a tag or terminate rule. With proper tagging, people can easily see which costs they are responsible for.