Is AWS Billing Conductor a Viable Solution? An In-Depth Analysis

AWS Billing Conductor (ABC) has emerged as a promising yet nuanced addition to AWS services, aiming to facilitate the creation of customized Cost and Usage Reports (CURs) for resellers managing complex pricing structures. In this exploration, I delved into AWS Billing Conductor to grasp its capabilities and identify potential areas of improvement.

Unleashing Potential with AWS Billing Conductor:

AWS Billing Conductor is strategically designed to cater to the needs of resellers aiming to enhance the efficiency of generating “Pro-forma” Cost and Usage Reports (CURs). The service offers a personalized approach, allowing resellers to incorporate specific AWS pricing elements, including markups, discounts, and detailed line items. My exploration of this service is driven by practical engagement, navigating through its features to assess its potential impact on our organization’s dynamics in cost reporting.

In practical terms, AWS Billing Conductor provides resellers with a dynamic platform to create CURs that go beyond the conventional reporting structure. The introduction of markups and discounts enables resellers to tailor pricing structures to align with their business models. For instance, a reseller can apply a 10% markup on compute resources to cover additional service offerings or operational costs. Additionally, the ability to introduce custom line items allows for a granular breakdown of costs, providing transparency and specificity in reporting.

During my initial engagement with AWS Billing Conductor, the potential impact on our organization’s cost reporting dynamics became evident. The streamlined generation of “Pro-forma” CURs is not merely a convenience but a strategic tool for resellers. It empowers them to present clients with reports that reflect not only the actual AWS costs but also the added value and services embedded in their pricing models.

Moreover, by incorporating personalized pricing elements, resellers can adapt to the dynamic nature of AWS cost structures. For example, applying specific discounts for reserved instances in environments like the NIH STRIDES program ensures accurate and reflective cost reporting, considering the unique characteristics of each service.

Setup Process Challenges: Navigating AWS Billing Conductor

The setup process of AWS Billing Conductor involves pivotal steps, including granting access to ABC in the organization management account and configuring pricing rules and plans. However, delving into this process revealed notable limitations that warrant attention.

Manual Account Association:

One of the identified challenges lies in the manual association of new accounts with billing groups. While this step is crucial for the service to function effectively, it introduces a potential bottleneck. An automatic default association for new accounts could significantly enhance the user experience and streamline the onboarding process. For instance, envisioning a default association where new accounts are automatically linked to a designated billing group could expedite setup and reduce the administrative burden on users.

Granularity of Discounts/Markups:

Another critical observation pertains to the granularity of discounts and markups within AWS Billing Conductor. While the service allows for global or per-service application of these adjustments, a more granular approach at the per-usage-type level is notably absent. This limitation proves to be a hindrance for use cases that demand fine-tuned adjustments. For example, scenarios requiring zeroing out specific costs for certain account types or usage patterns would benefit from a more detailed, per-usage-type level of control. Enhancing this granularity would offer users a higher degree of precision in tailoring pricing structures to specific needs.

Navigating Challenges with AWS Billing Conductor: A Closer Look

The journey with AWS Billing Conductor, while promising, encountered several challenges that tempered the initial enthusiasm. These hurdles not only posed practical concerns but also raised questions about the service’s seamless integration into diverse organizational landscapes.

Cost Uncertainty:

A primary challenge emerged in the realm of cost estimation. The free tier, while seemingly generous with its allocation of “pro-forma records,” introduces a layer of complexity for organizations with significant record generation. Estimating costs becomes a intricate task, and concerns arise about the adequacy of the free tier for organizations surpassing a certain volume of “pro-forma records.” The absence of a robust cost prediction mechanism further compounds this challenge, leaving organizations vulnerable to potential overages. Quantifying the exact financial implications of utilizing AWS Billing Conductor remains a puzzle, demanding a clearer mechanism for cost estimation and predictability.

Visibility Concerns:

Within the Cost and Usage Report console, another challenge surfaces in the form of visibility concerns. The absence of visual cues indicating whether the generated CUR aligns with the configured pro-forma pricing for the billing group introduces a layer of opacity. This lack of transparency raises the stakes of misalignment between expectations and outcomes. Users navigating the console may find themselves in a situation where the generated reports may not accurately reflect the intricacies of the configured pro-forma pricing. Enhancing visibility within the console becomes imperative to mitigate potential confusion and ensure a seamless connection between the configured pricing and the actual generated reports.


While AWS Billing Conductor exhibits potential as a valuable service, the current iteration feels somewhat incomplete. The inability to automatically associate new accounts, limitations in discount granularity, and challenges in predicting costs pose obstacles. Like many AWS launches, this service seems to require refinement through subsequent release cycles to address these initial challenges and fulfill its potential as a robust tool for customized cost reporting.

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