An Open Source Standard for Kubernetes Cost Monitoring

An Open Source Standard for Kubernetes Cost Monitoring

Kubecost recently open sourced OpenCost, an open source cost standard for Kubernetes workloads. OpenCost enables teams to operate with a single model for real-time monitoring, measuring, and managing Kubernetes costs across different environments.

OpenCost introduces a new specification and an implementation to monitor and manage the costs in Kubernetes environments above version 1.8.

InfoQ sat with Webb Brown, CEO of Kubecost, at KubeCon+CloudNativeCon NA 2022 and talked about OpenCost, its relevance to developers, and the state of Kubernetes cost management.

InfoQ: Can you tell us more about OpenCost and its significance?

Webb Brown: We’ve come together with a group of contributors to build the first open standard or open spec for Kubernetes or container-based cost allocation and cost monitoring. We’ve worked with teams at Red Hat, AWS, Google, New Relic, and others. We open sourced it earlier this year and contributed it to the CNCF. OpenCost was accepted by CNCF and is a sandbox project.

We think this is so important because there’s no agreed-upon common language or definition for determining the cost of a namespace or a pod or a deployment, ..etc. We see a growth in the amount of support with this community-built standard to converge on one set of common definitions.

Today, We have a growing number of integrations. We just had the fourth integration launch this week and have a lot more in the works. It’s been amazing to see the community come together and see this as a commonly agreed-upon definition.

InfoQ: What OpenCost enables for this ecosystem and what integrations are delivering for end-users?

Webb Brown: We see cost metrics going to a lot of different products whether it is Grafana or other FinOps platforms such as Vantage which recently launched OpenCost cost monitoring support for EKS.

We have seen lots of adoption and gotten positive feedback. There’s a lot more we want to do. I think that’s just representative of what open source allows us to do. We have lots of integrations and data and we’re ready to take it to new and exciting places.

InfoQ: What is the state of Kubernetes cost management today and where do you think we are heading?

Webb Brown: I think it’s helpful to go over the history. When we started the Kubecost open source project in 2019, more than 90% of the teams we surveyed reported not having accurate cost visibility into Kubernetes clusters.

Last year, CNCF did a study and that number was about 70%. Today we think we’re closer to 50%. Now We see more and more teams have visibility, whereas again, a year or two ago, most teams were in a black box. Today, I think it is about giving teams accurate and real-time cost visibility on all their infrastructure.

Now we’re moving into what we believe is phase two, In which, we have this great visibility, how do we make sure that we are running infrastructure efficiently? How do we optimize for the right balance of performance, reliability, and cost with applications and organizational goals in mind?

That is super exciting for us. Again, we think about cost as an important metric on its own, but one that’s deeply tied to all these other things. We are seeing more and more teams enter that phase two and we are working closely with thousands of them at this point.

InfoQ: Are there any plans to integrate with other cloud providers or vendors?

Webb Brown: Today, we have support for AWS, Azure, and GCP, as well as on-prem clusters and air-gapped environments. We plan to add support for a couple of other cloud providers soon. I believe support for Alibaba is going to be next and I expect it will be available this year. And we’re in talks with a handful of other vendors to support OpenCost as well as Kubecost.

InfoQ: You recently announced that Kubecost is going to be free for unlimited clusters, Can you tell us more about that?

Webb Brown: When we started Kubecost, soon leaving after Google five years ago, we expected that the number of clusters for a small team would tend to be pretty small, three, four, or maybe fewer. That number of clusters has grown way faster than we expected. What we saw were small teams that were saying we’ve twenty-five clusters.

We thought KubeCost’s original free product that could be installed on one cluster would be sufficient for small teams. Recently, we’ve decided we want to bring our product free to an unlimited number of clusters so that teams of all shapes and sizes can get cost visibility and management solutions.

Kubecost builds real-time cost monitoring and management tools for Kubernetes. OpenCost is a vendor-neutral open source project for measuring and allocating infrastructure and container costs.

Users can get started with Kubecost for unlimited individual clusters free of charge through the company’s website.


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