Stop your AWS costs rising with AWS management services
With the state of the global economy, everyone is looking at their core business costs and seeing what they can cut. But how far can you cut something like your AWS bill while still maintaining the performance levels you need?
For many organisations, the answer is, far more than you think! But how do you get started and check you are running efficient AWS infrastructure for your specific workloads?
In this article we break down the moving parts and how you can move in stages towards an efficient AWS spend.
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Understand your use of AWS services and implement cost and performance monitoring
The first thing to do when approaching any problem is to work out exactly where you are. With AWS costs this can be time-consuming as you often have many different AWS cloud services in use with varying levels of utilization. It can be difficult to get an overview of usage and cost for each individual service.
To get started, you need to understand what services you are using and how they contribute to your overall AWS costs. To do this, set up monitoring so that you can track all of your AWS costs both live and historic and build a picture of your spending.
The worst place you can be is relying on the invoice AWS sends you each month to monitor your AWS costs and see if they are rising. Firstly by the time you get the invoice you have already spent that money and the change in the cost of your AWS services over 30 days can be significant. Also, cloud billing is complicated and invoices for even relatively small deployments can have hundreds of line items.
AWS monitoring has a few advantages:
- Live and historic data about your infrastructure - Check when your demand is high/low
- Understand the components driving your overall AWS spend - Even if you are within budget the AWS spend is probably not going where you originally thought
- Alerts - Get spend and budget alerts, not just a surprise when the AWS bill arrives
- Identity and resolve issues - With monitoring, you will get sight of issues earlier and be able to be more planned than reactive - Reduce fire fighting
- AWS Cost recommendations - An AWS management service like CloudOps will also generate cost reduction recommendations which can be activated, by comparing other service configuration options to your current AWS architecture
There are a number of inbuilt tools in the AWS management portal that provides some monitoring and cost analysis features. However, for many organisations, these are not enough to get the full understanding of their AWS deployment and spend (These tools also require set-up and configuration to get anything useful out of them). Organizations often look for third-party AWS managed services to supplement these tools and get value right away.
CloudOps has been purpose-built for AWS cost management and provides all the features you need to start understanding and driving down your increasing AWS costs.
Optimize your AWS infrastructure resources for efficiency
Once you have visibility of your overall AWS spend and how it is made up of the various services you are using, you can start to make changes to optimize your architecture.
AWS cloud spend generally falls into the following categories:
- Compute (Virtual machines - Amazon EC2) / Storage (Disks and data stores)
- AWS managed services (Databases etc...)
- Licences / AWS marketplace services
- AWS Support services (For a comparison of AWS support available from the market read our article here)
If your AWS costs are rising then breaking down where the spend is going is key. Is one of these areas driving your AWS spend more than the others? You can approach each of these areas and realise a reduced AWS spend overall.
Compute (Virtual machines) & Storage (Disks and data stores) - Manage your storage needs
Compute and storage is often a core component of any AWS spend, to manage AWS infrastructure costs you can look at a few things:
- Optimise the size/type of the VM / storage - There are many different options for types and sizes of VM and storage options available in AWS. Check that new ones have not been released that have a better fit for your requirements and that you are not using a machine that is too large for your requirements. Refer back to your monitoring data to see if this machine is always running at a low capacity and can be scaled back
- Implement auto scaling - see section later in this article
- Use reserved instances - see section later in this article
AWS Managed service: (e.g. Databases)
AWS managed services are anything where it is provided as a bundled service by AWS, for example, database services or beanstalk where you configure the service and then it runs. You are then billed on a transactional basis for the number of requests or the amount of data in and out or read operations.
Understanding the costs specific to the AWS managed services you are using as part of your AWS infrastructure is the first step. Then understanding how your custom workloads interact with them and drive those costs up / down.
For example, one customer we worked with was using an AWS infrastructure service that billed for the number of 'read' and 'write' operations. By breaking down how the cost model for that service worked and then explaining it to the development team, the customer was able to change the data layer in their application and save over 50% on AWS managed services spend without affecting their performance.
This area can often be a bit of a black box and will need some input from several teams within your organisation to review the size/types of requests going into and out of the AWS managed service.
Licences / AWS marketplace services
This is often an area that is missed when auditing AWS infrastructure. Bundled services such as licences and other items such as VM templates of software as a service procured through the AWS marketplace can be forgotten.
- Are the reasons that this was purchased still relevant? As the business changes often things need a bit of a clear-out
- Is it still in use? Often you can end up with more licences than you need or they are not needed
- Can it be procured another way? Is there a discount for going direct with third parties instead of through the self service portal in the Azure marketplace
Some organisations end up paying again and again for things that were needed at the time but are on a longer billing cycle and only appear at certain intervals like 3 / 6 / 12 months and then get forgotten in the day-to-day management of the business.
When looking for ways to reduce your AWS costs, this area can deliver a surprising amount of cuts without impacting the services given.
AWS Managed Services: AWS Support services
If your using AWS you probably have an AWS managed service of some description as part of your AWS support plan. This might be with AWS directly or it might be with a third party. Often the requirement for support and advisory services for AWS is over-resourced.
Many organisations we have worked with have reduced the need for AWS consultants and support by implementing CloudOps and automating a lot of the day-to-day AWS management tasks. This also leads to more robust AWS architectures and deployments which removes a lot of the support requirements.
Review your AWS support plan and see if you can move to a lower level of support contract and implement cloud management software (CloudOps details here).
Take advantage of Auto Scaling and Elastic Load Balancing to drive down your monthly AWS spend
Amazon Web Services (AWS) provides a number of services that can help you save money on your monthly AWS bill. One way to save money is to take advantage of Auto Scaling and Elastic Load Balancing.
- Auto Scaling allows you to automatically scale your Amazon EC2 instances up or down based on demand
- Elastic Load Balancing allows you to distribute incoming traffic across multiple Amazon EC2 instances
By using Auto Scaling and Elastic Load Balancing, you can ensure that you are only paying for the AWS infrastructure and bandwidth that you need, which can lead to significant savings on your monthly AWS bill.
This is an area that many businesses that have been using the cloud for years don't get around to implementing. It takes effort and you need to understand your AWS usage before you try to implement it.
However, if you are using AWS don't implement this, it's like having a dimmer setting on your lights but just leaving them on and at the highest setting 24 hours a day. You won't get any of the advantages of the consumption-based models of the cloud. Sometimes it seems like the major cloud providers are aware of this and rely on many businesses never implementing this kind of architecture.
Use Reserved Instances to keep your costs down
Once you have been in the cloud for a while and understand your infrastructure needs, then this is an area that can drive down your monthly bill. If you use a particular type of VM as part of your infrastructure then you can lock in the price and reserve it for the longer term.
This is a great way to reduce costs but it requires an upfront investment. It's a bit like taking out a mortgage on your VM requirements for 1 or 3 years. This also allows budgeting for the long term.
The Reserved Instance (RI) model is flexible and can be applied across different VMs, sizes, regions and so on. You can also purchase them from the major cloud providers or from some of the many RI marketplaces that now exist.
Reserved instances are not tied to a specific machine, but applied to your bill overall. So if you run multiple types of VM it might be worth considering standardising onto a few and then setting up a number of reserved instances.
AWS managed services from IG CloudOps (Drive AWS costs down long term)
We have been building and managing cloud infrastructure since it first appeared. CloudOps can take the strain out of day-to-day cloud management tasks, as well as provide expert advice on how to drive down your long-term AWS costs. We don't just focus on the AWS bill but also on the availability and performance of your applications so that your customers always have a great experience.
As a member of the AWS partner network, our AWS certified architects and engineers follow best practices for AWS services. As part of CloudOps built-in cost reviews and security audits follow this best practice approach.
CloudOps provides the following services:
- AWS cost optimisation
- Performance monitoring and tuning
- Security auditing and risk registers
- Integrated PEN testing
- Incident: Fault find and fix
- Self-service dashboards
- Patching and cloud maintenance automation (Support operating systems: Windows / Linux)
- AWS Services: Support and advisory services from our team of AWS certified architects and engineers
CloudOps is certified by AWS and available in both the Microsoft marketplace and AWS Marketplace.
If you would like to find out more about how we can help you drive down your AWS costs, please contact us.
Or if you want to read more about how to manage AWS costs read our article on how to optimise AWS to ensure you are getting value for money.
Book a CloudOps Test Drive Online - The test drive is not a software demo, it’s a briefing before we hand you the keys!
Dan Jones, CloudOps Product Sales Lead, runs test drives every Wednesday afternoon from 2pm to 4pm UK time. Click the link below to book.
If you need a different time then Dan will be happy to help, just get in touch and let us know you want to book a test drive.
CloudOps is designed specifically to give you full transparency, control, and support, for your cloud infrastructure.
Steve Rastall - Managing Director
Get in touch: Steve.Rastall@igroupltd.co.uk
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