Cost Optimisation On AWS

01 Oct 2019

By Mohammed Abubakar


A simple google search will reveal thousands of search results for best practices, AWS tools, and third-party resources that can help you avoid overspending in the Cloud which can be overwhelming. Let’s focus in on a few easy starting points to help you plan well and keep a firm handle on your costs once deployed.

The key to optimising your costs is to fully understand your workload’s requirements — including factors such as network traffic, the region that your customers are in, and service level requirements.

Simple Monthly Calculator

The Simple Monthly Calculator (SMC) should be your first stop if you are new to AWS and want to estimate costs. It’s a great place to start with a lot of options that can be overwhelming at first but spending just an hour familiarising yourself and you’ll find it is immensely valuable for planning new deployments or changes to a current environment.

It’s one downside is that it has not been updated to include services that are critical in a modern cloud architecture such as Lambda, Glue, SageMaker, or any of the AWS container services. AWS also offers two other calculators that provide similar but slightly different approaches.

The AWS Pricing Calculator provides a more user-friendly approach to estimating costs for EC2 but is severely limited in what other services it supports while the AWS Total Cost of Ownership Calculator is focused specifically on executive level cost comparisons for migrations to EC2 from on-premises.

If you already have a workload on AWS, don’t forget the AWS Trusted Advisor Service. If you have a Business Support or Enterprise Support plan you get access to the full set of Trusted Advisor checks and recommendations which includes suggestions on how to reduce your overall costs.

Cost Explorer

For a much deeper understanding of what is showing up on your bill, the AWS Cost Explorer is an invaluable resource for visualising what is driving your current spend. Its usefulness for cost analysis goes up immeasurably if you are consistently tagging your AWS resources which provides additional axes to pivot the cost data set around.

Utilising the Free Tier

As part of setting up a brand new AWS account, there are a number of services that you can use at no cost use up to a certain limit or within certain parameters. Some of these offers expire twelve months after signing up and some never expire. While you shouldn’t expect to run a global ecommerce business on the free tier, it’s certainly possible to achieve some meaningful business results with something like Lambda’s free tier of 1 million requests per month.

For lots more details, click HERE.

Reserved Instances & Spot Instances

As mentioned in the beginning of this article, understanding your workloads will go a long way in ensuring you’re not overspending. If your business has identified EC2 instances that will be long living, then Reserved Instance (RI) pricing should definitely be considered. By committing to a longer term of service you can be eligible for savings of up to 75% compared to On-Demand pricing.

Find out more at Reserved Instance Pricing.

If you have flexibility for when your compute occurs and can engineer your workload to be okay with potential disruption Spot instances are another way of achieving significant cost savings with EC2 by purchasing spare capacity at up to 90% off.

You can find lots more information at Spot Instances.

Your AWS Team

One of the critical resources for long-term success is your AWS account management team. If you need help and don’t know where to look next for cost-optimisation they can often point you in the right direction. They can also help introduce you to programs for exploring new services in highly cost-effective manners with partners like AltoStack.

Wrapping Things Up

Knowing where to start when it comes to saving money in AWS can be confusing, so hopefully this article gave you several good places to start.

Start small, take advantage of the tools available, and don’t forget the AWS teams and partners who can help point you in the right direction. If you’d like to save money on AWS contact us today.

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