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3 Ways To Get the Most out of AWS (and still optimize your costs)

Posted by Dan Allaby on May 14, 2015 1:15:23 PM

I’ve published a couple of different articles around the topic of how those looking at cloud solutions can evaluate cloud providers for target workloads, but thought it would be good to address the challenges that those face who might already be in the cloud. For this specific blog, I want to talk specifically about Amazon Web Services (AWS).

Working in Cloud Solutions, we typically see customers who are  very eager to begin leveraging the flexibility and configurability that AWS offers right away --- and as such, start to grow their footprint rapidly by leveraging infrastructure to support various use cases and workload models. This occurs with either their decision to move their existing environments to the cloud, or create new ones. As the amount of resources being consumed increases, obviously the cost does as well. What I don’t always see from these same customers, is a plan on how to optimize and manage this explosive growth once they’ve reached it. Below are some tips on how to get better control of your growing cloud footprint and also, at the same time, optimize the resources you are consuming to minimize the spend.

  1. Consolidation – Are you leveraging AWS consolidated billing? Think of the concept of a family cell phone plan. I have the flexibility to customize my features by phone but I have the financial benefits of aggregating my usage to gain the benefits associated with the volume of services I am consuming across all of my family cell phones (buying power). With AWS, you can bring all of your AWS accounts together under one bill. When you do that, you have the ability to leverage volume discounts in the areas of S3, network bandwidth charges, onetime RI fees and support. As a company, this can also help you start to better manage overall spend occurring across all consumers. This also allows you to continue to leverage all of the benefits of separate AWS accounts.
  2. Reserved Instances –Typically the majority of usage we see happening inside of AWS accounts is heavily weighted to compute resources (AWS EC2). Once you have aggregated all of your accounts together under one bill, you can now look at what instances you are running and how many hours a month in aggregate each specific usage type is generating. Reserved instances can then be bought to buy down the hourly rate you are paying for that related usage. This typically reduces your charges for those instances by 30-60% depending on the instance type and the total number of hours you are consuming per month.
  3. Architecture Optimization – There are a number of things to consider when looking at how you are architected in AWS that can translate to efficiency gains in cost. Let’s take a closer look:
    1. What Generation of instances are you running? AWS periodically updates their EC2 instances by introducing newer generations that deliver more performance per price. This usually means you can upgrade to a newer generation and drop down in size while maintaining the same performance. Typical savings range from 10-30%.
    2. Are you leveraging AWS PaaS services? Amazon has a wide variety of platform offerings that bring together software managed services and infrastructure in a very competitive TCO model. Some of the areas include email (workmail, virtual desktops, workspaces), database services (RDS), business intelligence (Redshift) and content delivery (cloudFront) to name a few. If they meet your needs, these services tend to be less expensive and easier to maintain then using raw IaaS services with a bring-your-own-license model.
    3. Are you AutoScaling? Designing your application to take full advantage of the agility of AWS is a key area to maximizing the power of their services. Application driven Infrastructure models allow you to consume the infrastructure that you need when (and only when) you need it. Taking the extra time to design this upfront can translate to significant price per performance gains. These savings vary greatly depending on your workloads usage cycle.

The above recommendations represent areas that need to be looked at not only initially, but on an ongoing basis to insure that you continue to maximize the benefits of leveraging AWS, and at the same time, also optimize the cost of your cloud footprint.

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