a few important items for your instance management tool checklistWhen you start looking for an instance management tool to help manage your cloud infrastructure costs, you’ll realize there are a lot of options. While evaluating such tools, you need to make sure to have a list of requirements to make sure the software fits your needs and will help you reduce cloud waste. Here are a few items you might want to have on your checklist:

1. High visibility

One factor that contributes to cloud waste is the inability to track cloud instances. In today’s world, cross-cloud and cross-region are must-haves in order to provide high availability and true redundancy. Any modern instance management tool must be able to see all of your instances in one place, or you’re sure to have some fall through the cracks.

2. Reporting

You might hate making reports, but solid reporting can be the difference between a well-informed organization and a proverbial dumpster fire. With the help of a good tool, you can generate reports that show the data you need for decision-making, without wasting time.

3. Takes Action

Sure, reports and pretty graphs are nice, but something needs to actually be acted upon in order to make any real difference to your monthly AWS or Azure bill! A lot of tools will gather up that data for you, but you really need something that can actually turn off the lights, so to speak — not just tell you which lights haven’t been turned off.

4. Simple to use UI

The user experience of an application can sometimes go unnoticed, but it’s often the difference between a useful tool and shelfware. One of the main difficulties in determining how easy an interface is to use is that you need to understand who the actual end user will be. The IT administrator who is evaluating products may be able to figure out the interface, but if other team members will need to use it, then their needs must be taken into account.

5. APIs and Automation

With the rise of DevOps practices and automated infrastructures, API access is a must. By enabling inbound actions and outbound notifications, new tools can work seamlessly with existing operations to eliminate wasted resources. Automation should also take into account your naming conventions and tagging standards for optimal integration.

6. Schedule Overrides

Once you’ve started working on solving your cloud waste problem by scheduling resources to turn off when not needed, you need to be able to adapt to the changing needs of the user and the organization. Anyone with proper access to a system should be able to override a given schedule if necessary, since any tool you use should be helping your users get work done.

7. Team Governance

A huge concern when letting users run wild with any new tool is how you can make sure they aren’t going to break anything. Giving someone the minimum required access is a security best practice, but sometimes those access controls can be confusing. In addition to a simple UI, the role-based access controls should also be simple to set up, modify, and understand.

8. Single Sign-On

Some might consider this a nice-to-have, but most enterprises today have started requiring this for all products they use. Users find it easy to sign in without remembering a million credentials, and admins find it more secure and faster to deploy. If SSO is being used within your organization, then you should start picking tools that integrate with it easily.

This is a starting point, but of course, when evaluating an instance management tool, make sure to incorporate any unique needs your organization. What else would you include on your checklist?