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the-expensive-cloud Blog Post

Uncovering Cloud Cost Savings Opportunities

Hello, Code Enigma friends! It's your resident Cloud Ops engineer, Sunil, here to share some insights about the exciting world of Cloud Operations and cost optimisation.

As our reliance on cloud infrastructure grows, managing expenses becomes crucial for maintaining a healthy bottom line. In this post, I'll be sharing key strategies to uncover AWS cost savings opportunities that can significantly impact your budget. We'll be conducting regular Cloud Account Reviews to formalise the review of all client AWS accounts, infrastructure, resources, and spending. Any anomalies will be identified and addressed, helping to reduce costs and improve efficiency. Let's dive into some of the most effective strategies to achieve these goals today!

Savings Plans and Reserved Instances: Your Budget's Best Friends

First up, let's talk about Savings Plans and Reserved Instances. These powerful tools allow us to commit to a specific usage level and, in return, we receive a substantial discount. EC2 Instances, RDS Instances, Elasticache, Fargate and other AWS resources stand to benefit by applying Savings Plans and Reserving Instances. By carefully analysing our usage patterns and committing to Savings Plans or Reservations, we can save up to an impressive 72% compared to On-Demand pricing. On average, clients who have adopted Savings Plans have saved between 40% and 50% on their On-Demand infrastructure costs. That's a significant chunk of change that can be reinvested in other areas of our business! But how do these tools work? Savings Plans provide a fixed hourly rate for a one-year or three-year term, while Reserved Instances guarantee a set number of hours per month over a one-year or three-year period. By committing to these plans, we're essentially prepaying for our usage and securing the discount.

To get started with Savings Plans and Reserved Instances, it's essential to have a clear understanding of our AWS usage patterns. This involves tracking instance types, regions, and usage levels over time. AWS has in-house tools like Cost Explorer and CloudWatch which can be used to gather this data and identify opportunities for cost savings. However, there are dedicated tools like Hystax's OptScale which provide deeper insights. We're in the process of setting up company-wide integration with OptScale, which will provide benefits through its recommendations engine, across the board.

An example use case for a savings plan could be:

  • Scenario: Website experiences consistent traffic throughout the year, with predictable peaks during holiday seasons.
  • Application: By analysing historical traffic data and identifying the baseline traffic levels, we can commit to Savings Plans or Reserved Instances for the steady-state usage. This ensures cost savings while maintaining performance. For anticipated peaks, we can use On-Demand instances (expensive but highly available) or Spot Instances (very cheap but no guarantee of availability) to handle the additional load cost-effectively.

Right-Sizing: Optimal Performance, Optimal Cost

Next on the agenda is instance right-sizing. By monitoring our instance performance and utilisation, we can identify opportunities to downsize or upgrade as needed. This ensures that we're not overpaying for resources we don't fully utilise, while still maintaining optimal performance for our applications. For instance, if you have an application that only requires a small amount of processing power during certain times of the day, it might be more cost-effective to use a smaller instance type or scale up and down as needed.

To achieve optimal right-sizing, we need to regularly monitor instance usage and adjust accordingly. This can involve using AWS Auto Scaling to automatically adjust capacity based on demand, or manually scaling instances up and down depending on the situation. Additionally, tools like AWS CloudWatch can help us identify any performance bottlenecks in our applications, allowing us to make informed decisions about instance upgrades.

Mis-sized storage such as EBS and RDS, and infrequently accessed data that's stored on S3 and EFS are also within scope for cost savings. With mis-sized storage, we end up paying for unused EBS storage which is allocated to an instance. With infrequently accessed data, we have the option to move it out of "Standard" and into "Infrequent Access" or "Archive" storage classes. Infrequent Access will cut costs by up to 50%. EBS volumes are already being checked as part of our Cloud Account Reviews (CAR), but infrequently accessed data is an area of interest and will be added to the CAR checklist soon.

Tidying Up: Eliminating Unused Resources

Now, let's discuss the importance of tidying up unused instances, old snapshots, and outdated AMI images. These resources can silently consume our budget if left unchecked. By regularly auditing our environment and removing unnecessary instances, snapshots, and AMIs, we can keep our costs under control and maintain a clean, efficient cloud infrastructure.

When an instance is no longer needed, it's essential to shut it down or terminate it to avoid continued billing. We should also regularly review our snapshots and AMIs for any outdated or redundant resources that can be removed. This will not only save money but also simplify our infrastructure management.

We're also discussing the option of powering down instances over weekends/evenings, such as Dev infra. This is still under consideration, as we need a mechanism to override powering down instances for any Devs working late! This also has implications for overnight deployments and maintenance. Feel free to reach out if you'd like us to explore this option for your infrastructure.

Of course, regular Cloud Account Reviews help keep all our estates lean and cost-efficient by conducting reviews of resources as described above.

Exploring New Horizons and Embracing the Cloud Ops Mindset

As your dedicated Cloud Operations engineer, it's my mission to explore new technologies and services that can help us optimise our cloud usage. From leveraging EFS Intelligent Tiering, utilising Hystax OptScale and keeping abreast of the latest offerings from our cloud providers, there's always room for improvement and innovation in this space.

In conclusion, embracing the Cloud Ops mindset is key to unlocking significant cost savings and keeping our AWS usage optimised. By taking advantage of Savings Plans, Reservations, right-sizing instances, tidying up unused resources, and regularly conducting Cloud Account Reviews, we can ensure that our cloud environment remains cost-effective and efficient. By continuously exploring new technologies and services, we can innovate and improve our cloud infrastructure iteratively.

To make this journey even more successful, it's crucial to involve your entire team in the process. This includes your finance team, development teams, and operations teams all working together to identify opportunities for improvement. By adopting a Cloud Ops mindset and staying current with new technologies and services, you'll be able to continuously monitor and optimise your cloud usage, ensuring that your business stays agile and competitive.

Please also feel free to reach out if you have any feedback or areas of interest related to these topics. I'd love to discuss them with you :)

Happy optimising!


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