Billing reports#

Billing reports in the web console#

Cloud providers provide a billing console accessible via the web, often with very helpful reports. While not automation-friendly (see next section for more information on automation), this is very helpful for doing ad-hoc reporting as well as trying to optimize cloud costs. For dedicated clusters, this may also be directly accessible to hub champions, allowing them to explore their own usage.


You can get a list of all billing accounts you have access to via the billing console (make sure you are logged in to the correct Google account). Alternatively, you can select ‘Billing’ from the left sidebar in the Google Cloud Console after selecting the correct project.

Once you have selected a billing account, you can access a reporting interface by selecting ‘Reports’ on the left sidebar. This lets you group costs in different ways, and explore that over different time periods. Grouping and filtering by project and service (representing what kind of cloud product is costing us what) are the most useful aspects here. You can also download whatever you see as a CSV, although programmatic access to most of the reports here is unfortunately limited.


For AWS, “Billing and Cost Management” is accessed from specific AWS accounts. If using consolidated billing, it must be accessed from the ‘management account’ for that particular organization (see previous section for more information).

You can access “Billing and Cost Management” by typing “Billing and Cost Management” into the top search bar once you’re logged into the correct AWS account. AWS has a million ways for you to slice and dice these reports, but the most helpful place to start is the “Cost Explorer Saved Reports”. This provides ‘Monthly costs by linked account’ and ‘Monthly costs by service’. Once you open those reports, you can further filter and group as you wish. A CSV of reports can also be downloaded from this page.


We have limited expertise here, as we have never actually had billing access to any Azure account!

Programmatic access to billing information#

The APIs for getting access to billing data somehow seem to be the least well-developed parts of any cloud vendor’s offerings. Usually, they take the form of a ‘billing export’ - you set up a destination where information about billing is written, often once a day. Then you query this location for billing information. This is in sharp contrast to most other cloud APIs, where the cloud vendor has a single source of truth you can just query. Not so for billing - there’s no external API access to the various tools they seem to be able to use to provide the web UIs. This also means we can’t get retroactive access to billing data - if we don’t explicitly set up export, we have no programmatic access to billing information. And once we set up export, we will only have access from that point onwards, not retrospectively.

  1. GCP asks you to set up export to BigQuery, their sql-like big data product. In particular, we should prefer setting up detailed billing export. This is set up once per billing account, and not once per project. And one billing account can export only to BigQuery in one project, and you can not easily move this table from one project to another. New data is written into this once a day, at 5 AM Pacific Time.

  2. AWS asks you to set up export to an S3 bucket, where CSV files are produced once a day. While we could then import this into AWS Athena and query it, directly dealing with S3 is likely to be simpler for our use cases. This data is also updated daily, once enabled.

  3. Azure is unknown territory for us here, as we have only supported Azure for communities that bring their own credits and do their own cost management.

Our automated systems for billing need to read from these ‘exported’ data sources, and we need to develop processes to make sure that we do have the billing data exports enabled correctly.