You might be doing nothing special about AWS management, while the 2021 State of FinOps Report had 804 responses covering an amazing $31B of cloud spend. The question is: how on earth are they managing it all?

The respondents mainly were larger enterprises which had large cloud bills and dedicated FinOps staff, so there are a lot of smaller cloud users out there that use cloud management tools that will not have responded because they consider FinOps is “overkill” for SMEs.

However, for those who responded to the survey revealed less than half are using the free cloud offerings while a nearly equal percentage chose third-party tools to optimize their spend.

“46% use cloud-native tooling as their primary technology, 43% use a third-party platform, and 11% use homegrown tools or spreadsheets.

AWS Cost Explorer, Cloudability (Apptio), CloudHealth (VMWare), Azure Cost Management, GCP Cost Tools, and CloudCheckr were the top choices.”

Source: FinOps Foundation State of FinOps Report 2021, https://data.finops.org/

You won’t find the new kid on the block and AWS specialist cloud management tool, nOps, on this chart because it’s new, it’s not just for FinOps, and in fact, it has a different approach to solving the cost optimization problem.

The SaaS product wasn’t created in a garage or lab: instead, it was forged in hundreds of customer engagements by AWS Premier Partner, nClouds, helping them achieve numerous AWS competencies and awards. 

Now spun off as a standalone company, nOps is used by other AWS partners, ISVs, SaaS and enterprises to handle cost optimization and more. But it is unique among the cost optimization tools because it has the AWS Well-Architected Framework in its DNA.

If your AWS accounts and applications are managed according to the Well-Architected Framework, then cost optimization is built in and now shifts to being preventative — avoiding future problems — rather than fixing them after they’ve happened. While some cost optimizations are a band-aid, like closing the barn door after the horse is gone, nOps helps you avoid the problems in the first place and continuously ensure you’re on the right track.

This capability is the most common reason that nOps sees organizations migrate from other tools such as CloudCheckr. 

We wanted to share why that is happening and how people are making the — simple — migration.

Why are people migrating from Cloudcheckr to nOps?

Four quotes from users that have migrated from CloudCheckr to nOps

1. “CloudCheckr has a complex UI.”

2. “CloudCheckr is frustratingly slow.”

3. “CloudCheckr doesn’t do Well-Architected.”

4. CloudCheckr Pricing.

What do people like about CloudCheckr?

How do I migrate from CloudCheckr to nOps?

How do I get started with migrating from CloudCheckr to nOps?

Why are people migrating from Cloudcheckr to nOps?

CloudCheckr was launched ten years ago in 2011 and focuses explicitly on cost optimization. Its longevity explains its place on 6% of the FinOps respondents’ toolkits.

While CloudCheckr does some things that nOps hasn’t been designed to do, like managing multicloud costs across Azure and GCP, there is some feature overlap. But sometimes, going wide across many clouds means being shallow in them all. But it’s not just the features that cause some people to move from CloudCheckr to nOps.

As people become more savvy about cloud management, they want to focus more on top governance issues and not be drowned in data or confused by too many complex features.

Because nOps came to the market after CloudCheckr, at a point where cost optimization was well understood, it has provided the same outcomes in a much simpler way. It applies the cost optimization pillar from the AWS Well-Architected Framework, which itself was born from thousands of AWS Solutions Architect hours, so when you’re using nOps, you’re inheriting all that best practice. 

Migrated users usually have been through a mental process to compare CloudCheckr features to nOps for their specific needs. The “What do I really need?” question is often missing from comparisons. If you only need half of the features, or if you need something that’s not in the product, then it’s your needs, your use case, that should be the deciding factor.

In the table below, you can see how nOps is very focused on AWS, and it goes deeper on Well-Architected while not duplicating what you can find in the AWS Management Console. 

I need…CloudCheckr?nOps?
Cost OptimizationYesYes
Security and ComplianceYesYes
MSP / Multi-Client ManagementYesYes
Invoicing and BillingYesYes
Continuous, Multi-account AWS Well-Architected Framework Review (WAFR)No – defers to single-account AWS WAFR for one-off assessmentsYes
Change ManagementNo – you have to analyze CloudTrail logsYes, it answers “What changed?” for costs, surfaces essential notifications that are buried in CloudTrail and also offers a custom nOps Rules Engine.
WorkloadsNo – it works on an account basisYes, and workloads can be spread across multiple accounts to let you cost-optimize against specific workload resources.
Asset InventoryYesAWS Resources only
Resource UtilizationYes – overlaps heavily with AWS consoleNo – duplication of AWS feature
AutomationYes – overlaps heavily with AWS consoleAutomation of detections with nOps Rules but no auto-remediation.

The three major differences between the AWS Management Console Well-Architected feature and nOps are:

  1. It can analyze multiple AWS accounts at once using the Workloads feature, which is vital because many applications are composed of multiple AWS accounts.
  2. It continuously monitors your AWS accounts for compliance with Well-Architected.
  3. You don’t need an AWS professional certificate or any specialist training: all the team can use the friendly nOps dashboards and reports.

The top four benefits of moving from CloudCheckr to nOps that migrated users cite are:

  1. The Change Management feature of nOps, combined with Cost Optimization, tells me what caused my costs to change (and the same for Security). 
  2. The Workloads feature lets me ring-fence the resources how I like: I can assess multiple AWS accounts in one workload, or I can bring the production app resources together into one workload even if they are across multiple AWS accounts, or I can align a workload with a team, like the Security team, or even all my database resources like a horizontal platform layer.
  3. Because nOps has the AWS Well-Architected Framework built in, I can continuously stay aligned and on top of everything.
  4. It’s got a fast and focused UI.
  5. I don’t have to be specially trained: everyone can use it, from cloud architects to finance to security and operations. It promotes teamwork for better cloud performance.

But if those are four positives of migrating, there are also four frustrations with CloudCheckr that were drivers for migration.

Four quotes from users that have migrated from CloudCheckr to nOps

Clients that have migrated from CloudCheckr to nOps have consistently shared similar reasons for leaving CloudCheckr and migrating to nOps. 

1. “CloudCheckr has a complex UI.”

A lot of features can accrue over ten years, but do they make sense together? Sometimes having a hundred features is not a good thing when the user just wants to answer the question, “What changed to make my AWS costs go up 20%?”

These accrued features need to go on the screen somewhere and can lead to overly complex menus and navigation that frustrate users.

2. “CloudCheckr is frustratingly slow.”

Perhaps the most common comment we hear from customers that make the swap to nOps is the speed of navigation to the answers and the responsiveness of the application.

nOps is built to the latest serverless software architecture using the power of AWS scale and speed to process large datasets and complex queries very quickly. It also hasn’t accrued technical debt, feature bloat, or any of the other things that cause application entropy over time.

nOps updates its view of your AWS accounts every hour, so you always have the latest, real-time view. It also has a very fast fuzzy search feature that means you can fly around your AWS accounts very quickly. 

As a result, important findings like Reserved Instance recommendations and security violations are almost real-time.

3. “CloudCheckr doesn’t do Well-Architected.”

Users were surprised to find that CloudCheckr “delegates” the Well-Architected aspect to AWS’s native tool. This is surprising because doing cost optimization separately from Well-Architected means you are only treating the symptoms and not the root cause. 

nOps has approached this from the opposite end: it helps you get your applications, accounts and AWS resources aligned with Well-Architected. Therefore, you build cost optimization (and the other four pillars) into your application deployment on AWS. It also goes deeper to give you the same cost optimization features as CloudCheckr with analysis and recommendations for RIs, Saving Plans, Spot Instances and more.

Unlike the native AWS Well-Architected tool which CloudCheckr redirects you to, nOps also detects your AWS resources that aren’t compliant in addition to asking you the questions. 

Using nOps Rules, Well-Architected best practices are codified and tested against the running environment continuously. This feature is unique in cloud management tools and one reason that people choose nOps over the native AWS Well-Architected tool.

Another reason that people choose nOps for all of the Well-Architected pillars, not just cost-optimization, is that you can create custom Workloads that can span multiple AWS accounts. You can also “slice and dice” your AWS resources to run analysis against “vertical applications stacks of AWS accounts” that represent an application, or “horizontal platform stacks of AWS accounts” that represent platforms like databases.

4. CloudCheckr Pricing.

The pricing page for CloudCheckr doesn’t contain any pricing, which is an unusual lack of transparency for modern cloud management tools. You can find some pricing on AWS Marketplace. 

What do people like about CloudCheckr?

It’s been around for a long time, so it’s familiar, and there are some things that clients report as advanced features including complex partner billing. Complex enterprises with multiple clouds would benefit from CloudCheckr’s multicloud feature, but many customers want a tool that goes deep and specializes on AWS.

Some people prefer tools with lots of complex features, while others see this complexity as defeating the purpose of a cloud tool in the first place, which was to reduce effort with a focused tool. 

Clients tell us that they want the tool to do the heavy lifting and just answer simple questions like “What changed?” and “What can I do?” These seemingly simple questions are what people struggle to get answers to from AWS native tools, across multiple AWS accounts, or from CloudCheckr.

How do I migrate from CloudCheckr to nOps?

Swapping from CloudCheckr to nOps is technically very simple. The key adjustment is the people and process aspect, and we explore each in turn.

  1. Switching your AWS account links from CloudCheckr to nOps.
  2. Changes in your people and process.
  3. Impact on your clients (in a large enterprise or AWS partner).

The technical bit can be done in an hour, and the rest is just adjusting to a different workflow.

1. Switching your AWS account links from CloudCheckr to nOps.

Both CloudCheckr and nOps use the same type of access to the AWS accounts and Cost and Usage Reports (CURs).

Once you have an nOps account, you run a wizard that will use your AWS access credentials to run a CloudFormation template to set up the access. All of this is reviewable, transparent, and secure.

As soon as your AWS accounts are linked to your nOps account, data will start populating nOps. 

You can even run the tools side-by-side without any conflict.

2. Changes in your people and process.

There are some things that nOps does that CloudCheckr does not; there are some things that CloudCheckr does that nOps doesn’t do, and there are areas of overlap like cost optimization.

We find that clients migrate not because they want more complex features but because they want to solve a few key questions better: they don’t want their tooling to overload them, often complaining of “cloud tool fatigue”.

People who have migrated to nOps are typically in the following roles:

  1. C-level for risk management: using nOps Rules and Change Management to keep on top of what happened, why, and the impact.
  2. Cloud architects and developers: continuously aligning their AWS and applications to Well-Architected. 
  3. Non-technical teams such as security and finance: accessing reports and detailed data directly in the tool in a form they understand without needing an AWS professional to interpret it for them.

In terms of process, the main cost optimization and billing processes will remain much the same with an additional process for using nOps Rules and Well-Architected alignment to solve root causes and not just the cost symptoms. 

3. Impact on your clients (in a large enterprise or AWS partner).

Both tools let you add clients and give them their own accounts and dashboards and handle complex multi-tier billing. 

There is usually some adjustment for the feature differences and migrated clients tell us that making this simpler and more about the impact of changes is efficient for them and their clients.

How do I get started with migrating from CloudCheckr to nOps?

The pricing is transparent and the process to get a demo or a trial is straightforward:

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