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7 ways to reduce your AWS costs

Are you spending more than planned on AWS? Or maybe you just want to spend less? What can you do? With the great variety of services and pricing options that AWS offers, you can build unimaginable networks of servers in the cloud, something very difficult and expensive to do with traditional IT infrastructure. But with that power in your hands it is really easy to go far from what you exactly need, ending up with a lot of underused or overused running resources which are difficult to keep track of.   Most AWS users are initially attracted to the service because of its pay-as-you-use pricing model. Like running water or electricity, you only pay for what you. But as your usage increases so does your billing size. On-demand is great so far as your pockets go. But with careful budget planning you can benefit from other models and save a lot of money on the long run. There are several ways to save yourself from paying high bills on AWS. Once you are able to define or re-define your origina…

7 ways to reduce your AWS costs

Are you spending more than planned on AWS? Or maybe you just want to spend less? What can you do?
With the great variety of services and pricing options that AWS offers, you can build unimaginable networks of servers in the cloud, something very difficult and expensive to do with traditional IT infrastructure. But with that power in your hands it is really easy to go far from what you exactly need, ending up with a lot of underused or overused running resources which are difficult to keep track of.  
Most AWS users are initially attracted to the service because of its pay-as-you-use pricing model. Like running water or electricity, you only pay for what you. But as your usage increases so does your billing size. On-demand is great so far as your pockets go. But with careful budget planning you can benefit from other models and save a lot of money on the long run.
There are several ways to save yourself from paying high bills on AWS. Once you are able to define or re-define your original purpose and budget on AWS you can use the following 7 handy tips for optimising AWS costs and keeping track of your consumption.


Leverage Reserved Instances “RI”

When using RIs you can avoid uncontrollable expenses because you pay in advance. Instances can be reserved beforehand with a much lower price as compared with on-demand. RI can be paid as: No Upfront, Partial Upfront and All Upfront. The larger the amount paid, the larger the discount.


The savings can be up to 75% over an equal on-demand service. In case you end up with an unused RI, no problem it can be re-purposed without any fee. For example the size or quantity of instances can be changed as long as it is in the same family. If a reserved instance is not being used, you can get your money back by selling it at the AWS market. To get an update for the price, please take a look at AWS’s RI site, here.


Fit the resources to match your needs

Choosing instance type

Provisioning better and bigger resources to match workload sizes is a common practice among new AWS administrators. While it is good to leave enough room to run your workloads, over-provisioning multiple resources can dramatically increase your bill.  Carefully choosing your instance type is a crucial decision at the beginning. Whether you need compute, storage or memory optimized instances is something only you can answer.  There are other services in AWS to help you tailor resources to precisely match your needs. Adjusting services can provide the right fit of capacity at the right price. For example if you have frequent unexpected traffic spikes, you can leverage from Auto-scaling and CloudWatch to add or remove resources at the time you need it.

Use Monitoring

Example of monitoring with Librato

Another good practice to keep costs low is to monitor utilization of an existing resource over a period of time and decide whether to resize or remove it. Using AWS CloudWatch you can track metrics, collect logs, set alarms and automatically respond to changes. For example, if an EC2 instance has been fairly used for over 6 months and is predicted to continue serving for another 6 to 12 months, then is better to change it to a Reserved Instance.  You can also benefit from AWS’s Billing Alerts, which will inform you when monthly costs have reached a certain threshold.

Use the most suitable storage type



AWS uses three different types of block storage: S3, S3 RRS (Reduced Redundancy Storage) and Glacier. While S3 is the most popular because of its increased durability (99.999999999%) and redundancy, it is also the most expensive. If you don’t care too much about the added nines, then S3 RRS (99.99%) can work similar as S3 but 20% cheaper. Glacier on the other hand, is intended for long term archiving. If you don’t care about data retrieval times (usually takes about 3-5 hours to make a file available for download) then Glacier is the best way to “archive” your files at a really low cost. To compare prices, check here.

Use the spot market

Spot bid advisor

AWS has a lot of spare EC2 capacity floating around, which you can bid on and use for your advantage. As compared with on-demand, spot instances are much cheaper, because you run the risk of termination when the price is outbid. With non-critical or non-production workloads, you can leverage from Spot Instances and save up to 80% on running costs.  Spot Instances together with Auto-Scaling and Load-Balancing can cover up your capacity bursts are a much lower price.  To learn more about spot instance prices, check here.

Schedule or terminate underused resources


Idle or underused instances, databases or services will waste your money without giving anything back. As best practice, perform regular checkups and root out these resources.  If an instance has been 5% or less in Max CPU consumption over a month, then it means it’s time to either find them a new job or terminate them.  Underused or minor instances can be scheduled to be turned off at regular hours without affecting overall performance. Scheduling resources can dramatically lower your monthly costs because AWS doesn’t charge for stopped instances.

Use cost explorer

Cost explorer example

Cost Explorer is a free cost analysis tool provided by AWS. It can help you monitor expenditures by predicting, mapping and providing a detailed bill. To learn more about Cost Explorer check here.

Summary


Managing costs correctly is a good practice, but if you are managing high costs that give you nothing in return, you are probably just pouring money down the drain.
Following the above tips will not only help you have control over the costs, but also find cheaper alternatives. Finally, the best tip is to ask yourself before buying or even testing… why do I need this? You can do some research beforehand. Even AWS wants to help you achieve reasonable prices, check here.

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