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Practical advice for reducing AWS costs

Amazon Web Services (AWS) provides a flexible way for businesses to scale their infrastructure and applications in the cloud, but it can become difficult to keep control of costs. Your team needs access to the right resources to meet objectives, but unexpected costs can make projects unviable.

At igroup, we work with companies in multiple market sectors who face unexpected or rising costs from their Amazon Cloud environment and have developed systems to better manage and reduce those infrastructure costs over time.

The main causes of unexpected AWS costs

Companies that have moved their applications and infrastructure to the cloud generally expect to see a reduction in IT costs and improvements in operational performance.   However, without a clear cost management strategy costs can quickly spiral leading to unexpected bills at the end of each month.

The two major sources of wasted cloud costs are likely to be:

1. Idle resources

The ease of creating new resource in AWS means that development teams often spin up new instances for development, testing and staging without considering their requirements and what they already have.

This can result in resources running 24/7 when they are only usually needed during the working day or continuing to run after the project they are needed for is finished.  AWS is charged based on resource usage, so unless you monitor your deployment at all times, costs can rapidly increase without a clear indication of why.

2. Over specification

We often see situations where the environment has been specified with much greater performance or capacity than is required.  In many cases, machines are specified to always deliver maximum performance, rather than being scaled.  This can mean that the environment has a great deal of wasted capacity which must still be paid for.

How to reduce AWS costs

There are a range of practical solutions that will help manage day to day costs and ensure there are no more unexpected invoices.

Scheduling – At igroup, one of the first things we recommend our customers do is look at when they need their resources to be available. Typically, development resources only need to be available during office hours while staff are working. Simply shutting these resources down when they are not being used can deliver significant cost savings.

AWS lets you pause unused resources and it takes minutes to make them available again when they are needed.

Specification – During the process of cloud planning, you should ensure that resources are specified correctly form the start. The specification should be agreed based on needs prior to any virtual machines being provisioned.  This includes determining:

  • What each machine will be used for
  • What the individual compute requirements are for each use
  • When each machine will be needed and by whom

This ensures that the right assets are selected from the start.

Shut down instances correctly – If unused assets such as storage are still live when they are no longer in use – such as during a development project, the first time you realise they exist may be when you receive a bill.  Ensuring that you have an audit process that follows each development sprint can address waste and contribute to better AWS cost management.

Access control and governance – An extension of the above is ensuring that there are processes in place to control who can set up new instances during a project and how these are specified.  Again, this prevents wastage and contributes to lower project costs and increased profitability.

Work with a certified AWS partner – By working with a certified AWS partner such as igroup you get help to manage your AWS costs in different ways including:

  • Configuring and managing built in AWS cost management tools
  • Monitoring and reporting on usage to identify cost reduction opportunities
  • Implementing cost control applications and processes to provide better management and billing information

To talk to a member of our AWS team and find out how we can help you reduce your cloud costs, call us today on 0203 697 0302.

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