Set up advanced billing alerts and logic

While simple budget alert emails are a relatively easy way to receive billing updates, there may be times when you want to create more sophisticated alerts that include more customized logic. Here are two approaches to consider:

  • Use Cloud Monitoring to create more sophisticated and timely alerts

  • Use a billing Pub/Sub notification along with a corresponding Cloud Function to create custom behavior in response to changes in your spending

While both of these techniques require more work on your part, they give you the power to control exactly what kinds of alerts you're receiving and how to respond to them.

This page offers an overview for each of these approaches.

Create more sophisticated alerts with Cloud Monitoring

Simple budget alert emails let you know when your overall billing has reached certain thresholds. However, you might also be interested in knowing whether individual services are increasing unexpectedly -– before they've had a chance to significantly affect your budget. For more sophisticated use cases like this, we recommend learning about Cloud Monitoring, which is a Google Cloud tool available for your Firebase project.

Cloud Monitoring is useful for several different types of alerts:

  • If a resource that your project relies upon is unavailable (for both Firebase and Google Cloud services, but even for external services, like AWS)

  • If services like Cloud Functions are taking longer than expected to respond

  • If your Cloud Storage bucket, Realtime Database instance, or Cloud Firestore instance is rejecting too many requests (an indication that your Firebase Security Rules might be incorrect).

  • If the amount of resources used by some of your Firebase products have increased above a certain threshold

Alerts created through Cloud Monitoring are usually sent more quickly than simple budget alert emails, which are typically sent once per day. Alerts can take the form of SMS messages, Slack channel messages, PagerDuty notifications, webhooks, and more. These options enable you to send alerts with higher and more actionable levels of visibility.

Using Cloud Monitoring

To get started with Cloud Monitoring, we recommend starting with the Metrics Explorer, which allows you to create graphs of custom metrics within your Firebase/Google Cloud project and visualize their usage.

Specifically, you can look at resources such as your Cloud Firestore, Realtime Database, or Cloud Function instances. You can view usage information about these products (like number of document reads, bytes sent, or function invocations) that would have an effect on your billing.

After you're comfortable visualizing your resource usage in the Metrics Explorer, we recommend creating an alerting policy on the metrics you care about most. Here are some example alerting policies:

  • If the number of document reads in a 30-minute time period is greater than a particular value

  • If the usage of a specific resource (like a function invocation) seems to be increasing too quickly in a certain timeframe

Create additional billing logic

Budget alerts send out emails automatically when your budget reaches certain thresholds, but for more sophisticated alerting or programmatic reactions to spending increases, you might consider setting up additional custom logic based on Google Cloud Pub/Sub messages.

For example, you can send alerts to Slack channels or via text message, or you make programmatic changes to your app or project depending on spend levels.

Pub/Sub is a message-passing service that allows other services to send messages — usually in the form of JSON data — in an asynchronous manner through channels known as Pub/Sub topics. You can set up authorized services, like Cloud Functions, to listen to messages in these topics and act on the data appropriately.

Note that Pub/Sub notifications for billing are sent about once every 20 minutes whether or not your billing usage has changed, and they are stateless (meaning that they provide no context as to what preceded them). If you want to keep track of unusual increases in spending over time, or compare your spending to the previous cycle, you will need to manage that historical data yourself using a database like Cloud Firestore or the Realtime Database.

Using Pub/Sub topics with Cloud Functions

You can set up a Pub/Sub topic for your billing data by visiting the budget associated with your Firebase project in the Google Cloud console (under Billing > Budgets and alerts), then clicking the checkbox for Connect a Pub/Sub topic to this budget. This will create a Pub/Sub topic that you can listen to later. For detailed steps, refer to the full documentation.

After you've created your Pub/Sub billing topic, you can write a Cloud Function to listen to this topic and act on the data accordingly. The data is sent as JSON data and includes helpful information like the amount you've spent so far, your budget amount, and the start date of your current billing cycle.

The Google Cloud documentation has full details on how to receive this data using a Cloud Function. However, if you're using Cloud Functions for Firebase to deploy your functions, the general process is a little simpler (check out the Firebase documentation). You can also refer to this video for a sample walkthrough of the process.

Once you've received this data, there are a number of different ways you can respond to it. Here are some options: