As more and more large organizations make use of AWS in important and mission-critical ways, they have started to ask us for more flexible ways to manage their account. Three of the top requests have been for consolidated billing across multiple AWS accounts, volume pricing across more than one AWS account, and a way to track the cost of a project across an organization. Since we love to listen (and to respond) to our customers, I'm happy to announce that all of these features are available now!
Our new Consolidated Billing feature lets you designate one AWS account as a paying account and a set of other accounts as linked accounts to form a simple one-level hierarchy. The AWS usage within the linked accounts is rolled up into the paying account for volume pricing and billing purposes, so there's just one AWS bill per month.
The account relationship is solely for accounting purposes and normal AWS permissions still apply. The paying account does not have special access to the resources (Amazon EC2 instances, Amazon S3 buckets, and so forth) owned by the linked accounts. Each linked account has its own set of AWS credentials.
You can use this new feature in a number of ways. You can set up AWS accounts for projects, departments, dev/test/staging/production, or even by employee. You can add up to twenty linked accounts to a paying account. Here's the process:
- Set up a Consolidated Billing account.
- Use the Consolidated Billing page to send a request to the owner of each of the accounts to be linked.
- AWS sends an email to the owner of each account.
- The owner clicks a link in the email, logs in to the AWS portal, and accepts or denies the request.
- The paying account becomes responsible for the charges incurred by the linked account as soon as the owner of the linked account has accepted the request.
- The paying account can view an AWS cost report for each linked account.
- At a later time the owner of the linked account or of the paying account can remove the linked account from the consolidated bill.
Here's a visual representation:
Once two or more accounts have been consolidated into a single paying account, the AWS usage across all of the accounts will be used to determine the appropriate pricing tiers. Let's say that two accounts owned by Stephen and Andy transfer 8 TB and 4 TB of data out of S3 in a given month. The resulting 12 TB of data transfer will be billed at $0.15 per GB for the first 10 TB and $0.11 per GB for the remaining 2 TB.
This should result in a cost savings for customers who previously divided up their AWS usage across a number of accounts. The cost benefits derived from the use of EC2 Reserved Instances also apply across all of the linked accounts. However, the availability of instances favors the account that purchased the Reserved Instance. Support fees for AWS Premium Support are based on the individual account's portion of the consolidated bill. Taxes are computed separately for each linked account based on the address of the account, but charged to the paying account.
These features will do a lot to address the needs of our larger customers, but we know that we can do more to enhance the account management features of AWS. Later this year we plan to provide additional functionality to allow linking of accounts and user permissions.