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Google’s Unattended Project Recommender aims to cut cloud costs

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Google today announced Unattended Project Recommender, a new feature of Active Assist, Google’s collection of tools designed to help optimize Google Cloud environments. Unattended Project Recommender is intended to provide a “a one-stop shop” for discovering, reclaiming, and shutting down unattended cloud computing projects, Google says, via actionable and automatic recommendations powered by machine learning algorithms.

In enterprise environments, it’s not uncommon for cloud resources to occasionally be forgotten about. Not only can these resources can be difficult to identify, but they also tend to create a lot of headaches for product teams down the road — including unnecessary waste. A recent Anodot survey found that fewer than 20% of companies were able to immediately detect spikes in cloud costs and that 77% with more than $2 million in cloud costs were often surprised by how much they spent.

Unattended Project Recommender, which is available through Google Cloud’s Recommender API, aims to address this by identifying projects that are likely abandoned based on API and networking activity, billing, usage of cloud services, and other signals. As product managers Dima Melnyk and Bakh Inamov explain in a blog post, the tool was first tested with teams at Google over the course of 2021, where it was used to clean up internal unattended projects and eventually the projects of select Google Cloud customers, who helped to tune Unattended Project Recommender based on real-life data.

Machine learning

Unattended Project Recommender analyzes usage activity across all projects within an organization, including items like service accounts with authentication activity, API calls consumed, network ingress and egress, services will billable usage, active project owners, the number of active virtual machines, BigQuery jobs, and storage requests. Google Cloud customers can automatically export recommendations for investigation or use spreadsheets to interact with the data, as well as Google Workspace.

“Based on [various] signals, Unattended Project Recommender can generate recommendations to clean up projects that have low usage activity, where ‘low usage’ is defined using a machine learning model that ranks projects in [an] organization by level of usage, or recommendations to reclaim projects that have high usage activity but no active project owners,” Melnyk and Inamov wrote. “We hope that [customers] can leverage Unattended Project Recommender to improve [their] cloud security posture and reduce cost.”

Google notes that as with any other tool, customers can choose to opt out of data processing by disabling the corresponding groups in the “Transparency & control” tab under Google Cloud’s Privacy & Security settings.

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