New CNCF report puts spotlight on wasteful Kubernetes spending

4 minute read

Most companies running Kubernetes aren’t made of money, though you might get that impression looking at the newest survey published by the Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF). The report unearthed that 68% of respondents—a cross-section of organizations from startups to enterprises—saw their Kubernetes costs increase over the past year. For half of those whose spend increased, costs skyrocketed more than 20%.

Change related to Kubernetes spend

The fact that more and more budget is being allocated to Kubernetes costs isn’t in itself surprising. Kubernetes adoption is growing across the board, so related costs figure should scale along with that growth. But the reality is that most organizations lack the requisite capabilities to accurately predict, monitor, and optimize Kubernetes costs, which is… well, let’s just say there is plenty—plenty—of room for improvement. Fortunately, though, we have a quick and painless remedy that can be installed in five minutes or less.

We founded Kubecost to provide organizations with the tools needed to effectively and persistently curtail Kubernetes waste and avoid unnecessary overspending. As Kubernetes costs continue to soar, and as the results of this survey highlight in multiple ways, a cost management solution like Kubecost is becoming a critical piece of the infrastructure puzzle.

While the CNCF report found that many organizations are already benefiting from Kubecost’s real-time cost visibility and insights (we are proud to be the most-used multi-cloud solution among survey respondents), it’s clear that many more are leaving money on the table. Here are our takeaways from the survey:

Insights. Unlock. Savings.

An active, granular Kubernetes cost monitoring strategy can slash costs for organizations of any size, from enterprises ponying up $1 million per month on Kubernetes infrastructure to startups with monthly bills under $10,000. Large or small, knowledge is the key to increasing Kubernetes cost efficiency and scaling confidently. Real-time cost visibility into cluster behavior empowers timely action to save money, while maintaining the performance of your cloud native applications.

Levels of Kubernetes cost monitoring

Most businesses surveyed showed vast untapped potential for greater Kubernetes cost efficiency; 90% of Kubernetes-related costs come from computing and memory resources. Nearly a quarter of respondents do absolutely nothing to monitor their Kubernetes spending. Less than half, 44%, use only monthly estimates to guide (as best they can) major budget decision-making. A small but growing number of respondents reported leveraging advanced capabilities for accurate and predictive Kubernetes cost monitoring, with 13% employing showbacks and 14% maintaining active chargeback programs. Even companies who allocate costs—an important first step in understanding Kubernetes spend—don’t fully attribute them across their clusters; just 40% of tenants are associated with namespaces, and 35% with labels. This widespread lack of cost visibility turns Kubernetes spend into a black box, and leads to massive and avoidable overspend.

Said another way: you can’t cut or optimize costs if you don’t really know how you’re spending.

The tools are here!

If this all paints a pretty bleak picture, the good news is that having the right tools in place can have a big impact on your bottom line. Respondents with Kubernetes cost monitoring in place reported strategies that fell across three categories: cloud provider-specific tools, cross-platform solutions, or their own custom tools. Among cloud-specific tools, AWS Cost Explorer led the way as the choice of 15% of respondents, while 11% use GCP’s tool and 8% use Azure Cost Management. But when it comes to cross-platform cost monitoring tools, Kubecost rated as the most popular choice (and second most-popular of any tool, behind AWS’ own). Deployed by 13% of respondents, Kubecost was also the only tool outside of the cloud-specific options with a reported user base in the double digits. Lastly, 11% of organizations reported relying on various custom solutions, including setups such as manual spreadsheet-based cost tracking. Custom setups like these are almost certainly going to be more of a challenge to maintain at scale.

Kubecost is the most popular cross-platform Kubernetes cost monitoring tool

The wealth of powerful, flexible Kubernetes cost monitoring and optimization options available today offer inviting outcomes for those ready to engage in more deliberate and informed spending strategies. Investing in wiser governance—and the right tooling—today will pay dividends both immediately and into the future, enabling teams to realize far more cost efficiency at scale.

For teams leveraging the power of Kubernetes to modernize their infrastructure, true optimization means looking past simple cost estimates and calculations based on incomplete information. With Kubecost, teams can implement showback and chargeback practices that accurately and granularly trace costs back to particular projects and environments. Moreover, they can take a comprehensive view of real-time Kubernetes cluster spending alongside associated external costs, and optimize compute at the node, pod and any other level. Kubecost empowers internal stakeholders to own their own costs by enabling organizations to set and control budgets for each team or application, and track spending trends with automated cost reporting that enforces efficiency standards. It’s transformative knowledge like this that will allow companies to truly maximize the value of Kubernetes’ many, many benefits for years to come.