Formula One, Indy and NASCAR racer Mario Andretti once said, "It is amazing how many drivers, even at the Formula One Level, think that brakes are for slowing the car down.” An over-simplified translation: “brakes are another control to help you go faster.” 

Instrumenting the cost of different forms of cloud as well as traditional delivery models helps Cox Automotive accelerate and steer through its adoption of public cloud. “The great thing about public cloud is how quickly people can spin things up,” Mark Satterfield, Vice President of Enterprise Delivery Systems, Risk and Security says. “That can also be a problem because usage can get away from you. We need to see how much we’re spending on what cloud services, in which parts of the business, where it’s for development or testing or production. So we wired Apptio into our private cloud and public clouds.”

Autotrader uses Apptio Cost Transparency’s cloud adapters to download invoices directly from providers like Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Microsoft Azure. The adapters translate tens or even hundreds of thousands of charge line items into recognizable products from cloud providers that fit categories in the ATUM model so customers can compare apples to apples both internally and externally.

“We put TBM and Apptio at the center of our cloud strategy,” says Satterfield. “It gives me a single place to compare the total cost for Cox to provide services versus the real-world cost of consuming similar services from AWS or Azure.” In some cases, Satterfield says it is worth what they often see as a cost premium to quickly spin up a public cloud instance “but if you can wait a couple weeks we might provide it at half the cost. The transparency gives people the information to make the right choice for the business.”

Ed Smith, CTO explains that he needs to track how his growing investment in AWS and Azure is impacting the overall cost structure, including captive data centers and investments in networks. “One of the secret sauces in Apptio is the underlying ATUM framework that allows us to put all of the costs into consistent categories. This really helps us when we want to compare costs for delivering out of our own data centers versus Amazon or Azure.”

Smith acknowledges that there are many point solutions that specialize in tracking cloud usage. “I need all those costs in one place, in one cost model, so I can explain our financial plan and performance to the CFO, where we’re investing in our own capabilities, what we’re making good use of, where it makes sense to ramp down. Apptio brings together usage and costs from all our public clouds, private clouds, and data centers to help us make those important decisions.” Smith believes the automation and a regular cadence of reporting and trending in Apptio are also key. “Without that, you would just lose sight of the context of your cloud spend, and if a big decision comes up around data center or capacity we’d all scramble through with spreadsheets to try to come up with an answer that we can’t really track or defend over time.”

Read the entire Cox Enterprises TBM Awards case study to learn more about how Cox plans and optimizes technology across companies with a standard cost & KPI model.