Chargeback and budeting for cloud environments

Optimizing Chargeback and Budgeting in Cloud Data Environments

The Data Observer
6 min readMay 15, 2023


In the current climate of heightened scrutiny on budgets and expenses, it is essential for data teams to closely monitor their cloud expenditures and accurately account for usage. With the Acceldata Data Observability platform, data teams can benefit from a range of unique chargeback and budgeting features, enabling them to track, evaluate, and allocate infrastructure costs across different business units and data platforms.

These features provide data teams with greater control over managing costs for their cloud-based data environments, helping them navigate the increasingly complex landscape of cross-organizational resource allocation and expense management.

To gain a deeper understanding of these capabilities and how they can support spend intelligence and cloud cost optimization, we will explore the following components of the Acceldata platform.

Chargeback in Acceldata

​​To make use of Acceldata’s Chargeback feature, it is essential to have a clear understanding of its different components, including the Organization Unit (OU), Cost Center (CC), and Scope.

The OU represents a department within the organization, such as Engineering, Sales, or Marketing, and can be used to establish hierarchies between departments. Each OU incurs expenses related to the tasks it performs. For example, the Engineering OU may have expenses such as data platform costs (AWS, GCP, Snowflake), database licensing costs (Oracle DB, MS SQL), and more.

Chargeback structure in Acceldata

A CC represents a project that utilizes various resources of the data platform and is associated with an OU. A single OU can have multiple CCs. For instance, the Engineering OU may have production, development, and staging environments as its CCs, as each of these uses resources like databases and data platforms. However, CCs can also exist independently and may not necessarily be linked to an OU.

A Scope is a logical grouping of resources that provides a customized view of those resources. Each CC is linked to a Scope, and resources are grouped under a single Scope. There are several ways to define a Scope within Acceldata. One method involves assigning an entire account to a single CC, such as when using Snowflake, where a separate account is allocated for each environment. Another approach is to assign multiple resources or services to a single CC, such as using a single Snowflake account but maintaining a separate warehouse for each environment. The most efficient way to define a Scope is by using tags, which are key-value pairs that allow for easy and flexible Scoping.

Establishing both CCs and OUs is crucial for data teams to effectively track and identify where spending is occurring and how it can be optimized. Historically, this has been a hurdle, as budgeting and chargeback actions require internal teams to have some level of accountability, and the data team must assign it accordingly. In the midst of other priorities, it can sometimes seem like a daunting task to align financial accountability across an organizational chart. However, unless this happens, there is no way to understand the ROI of data investments. Additionally, someone will get stuck holding the bag, and data teams don’t want that responsibility.

The Acceldata Data Observability Platform simplifies the process of setting up and maintaining these components. Setting up a CC involves establishing cost centers, assigning owners and administrators, and including relevant details to support these actions.

Create a cost center in Acceldata

After setting up a CC, you can easily identify and map the corresponding data sources and accounts using just a few fields. The process can be seen in the image below:

Assign data sources to a cost center

After setting up the CC and mapping the data sources and accounts, the next step is to create an OU and begin automating the assignment of chargeback to different internal groups. This can be achieved by creating the org name, specifying the owner, granting administrative access to other team members, and providing any necessary additional details.

Create an organization unit

Once you create an OU or CC in Acceldata, it will appear on the page. If there are any sub-OUs or CCs associated with a particular OU, they will be displayed under their respective parent OUs. To view the child OUs and CCs of a specific OU, simply click on the plus icon.

Perform Cloud Cost Analysis

Acceldata offers support for displaying costs in the form of a Sankey chart view. This chart type showcases the flow of costs across various cost centers and organization units. To view the cost data in the Sankey chart format, click on the Sankey chart button, as shown in the image below:

Analysis of chargeback using Sankey chart

It’s important to understand the following about the Sankey chart:

  • The cost analysis Sankey chart is composed of nodes and flow.
  • Nodes can represent one of three things: an entire account, a cost center, or an OU.
  • The leftmost node represents the entire cost or data source, such as Snowflake or Databricks.
  • The next node represents either a workspace in the data source or an instance of the Snowflake data source. A cost center can display costs from multiple data sources.
  • The next left node represents the cost center, which can display costs from multiple data sources.
  • The rightmost node represents an OU.
Understanding the Sankey chart

Budgeting in Acceldata’s Chargeback Feature

Acceldata’s Chargeback includes a Budgeting feature that enables you to set budgets based on your organization’s needs. With this feature, you can easily keep tabs on your expenses and track how close you are to meeting your budget. Moreover, Acceldata lets you configure alerts to notify you when you approach your budget limit, so you can take timely actions to avoid overspending.

Budgeting in Acceldata chargeback

Acceldata’s Budgeting feature enables you to have better control and visibility over spending by creating multiple budgets for each department of your organization. This allows you to set specific spending limits and monitor your expenses accordingly. You can also create multiple budgets for each quarter, giving you the flexibility to adjust your spending based on changing circumstances.

The Budgeting feature allows you to categorize budgets under different categories, such as:

  • Infrastructure: Includes expenses related to cloud infrastructure, servers, and networking.
  • Data processing: Covers expenses related to data processing and storage, such as databases and data warehouses.
  • Analytics: Includes expenses related to analytics tools and platforms, such as BI tools and data visualization software.
  • Services: Covers expenses related to third-party services and tools, such as consulting and managed services.

By categorizing budgets under these categories, you can better understand your spending patterns and optimize your resources accordingly.

Budgets are categorized with the following categories:

There are a variety of other, related elements to these Chargeback and Budgeting features in Acceldata. We invite you to get a customized demo of the Acceldata Data Observability Platform so you can see how it can work for your team.

Photo by Martin Sanchez on Unsplash