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Taming Runaway Kubernetes Costs: Strategies for Cost Control

Eric Gregory - March 16, 2023

As Kubernetes becomes ubiquitous, organizations are struggling to manage the costs. Here's what you need to know to keep your cloud spend under control.

Kubernetes is an excellent tool for managing resources, but without effective cost management strategies in place, it's all too easy for costs to spiral out of control, and for multiple reasons. Kubernetes is designed for resource awareness and scalability, but misconfigurations can lead to unnecessary expenses. For users, the cloud is an abstraction, and there's always "more" if they want it. But perhaps the biggest challenge is that Kubernetes clusters are typically shared resources, so without the right tools, it can be next to impossible to identify which team or service is responsible for which specific costs. 

Taking Advantage of Tooling

Fortunately, the Kubernetes ecosystem offers a range of open-source tools to help manage costs. OpenCost, the open-source core of the Kubecost project, provides cost allocation, showback, and chargeback functionality, while the overall Kubecost project offers a self-managed or as-a-service option with a free tier for cost data across unlimited clusters.

A tool such as Kubecost enables you to do chargebacks (or at least showbacks) to the users or departments that may be tying up unused resources, or who may not be using the cluster as efficiently as they might be.

In addition, the Lens UI for Kubernetes also allows for quick and easy installation via Helm chart, with cost data integration through Kubecost's Lens extension.

Knowing Your Needs and Limits

These are not just theoretical problems; on average, organizations waste up to 32% of their cloud spend. While Kubernetes can help reduce waste, it requires careful management to avoid overspending. 

Even before your first user deploys their first Kubernetes pod, effective management requires expertise in selecting appropriate instances, persistent volume storage, autoscaling and affinity policies, and a Kubernetes monitoring stack. Mistakes can be costly, both in the short and long run, making it essential to assess your in-house skills and consider external DevOps-as-a-service offerings to ensure effective infrastructure management.

Don't Suffer from a Solved Problem

While managing Kubernetes costs can be difficult, it's not just a solvable problem--it's a solved problem. There is absolutely no reason you should be suffering from runaway costs.

By using the cost management tools available and ensuring that your infrastructure is set up correctly, you can take easy and effective advantage of the benefits that Kubernetes offers, while still keeping costs under control. In addition, new tools and strategies are developed all the time; consider attending workshops and training sessions to learn more about these cost control strategies and how to implement them effectively.

Want to learn more? 

By recognizing the challenges of Kubernetes cost management and utilizing the tools available, organizations can successfully manage their cloud spend while taking advantage of Kubernetes' resource-awareness and scalability. By assessing their skills and considering external resources, organizations can ensure that they have the expertise they need to keep their infrastructure running smoothly and cost-effectively.

The end result is what everyone wants: a Kubernetes and cloud infrastructure that is cost effective and provides developers with the environment they need to move you forward. If you're interested in learning more about controlling your Kubernetes costs, please join us on April 13 for a webinar on how to keep your Kubernetes costs from spinning out of control.

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