Cloud cost management is the ongoing process of monitoring, analyzing and managing costs related to cloud services. In the context of Amazon Web Service (AWS) environments, this means finding new ways to reduce your overall bill by optimizing resource usage across your ecosystem. However, as cloud infrastructure becomes increasingly complex, visibility becomes obscured, making it difficult to identify cost saving opportunities.
By using an effective AWS cloud cost management tool and following best practices, you can build a robust cloud environment. This ensures that your costs reflect the value you obtain from it. But before you learn how to manage AWS cloud spend more effectively, you need to know exactly what those costs are.
What Are the Costs of the AWS Cloud?
AWS offers several different pricing models for its standard cloud platform and Amazon EC2 (Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud). Whichever model you choose, your overall AWS cost will depend on your cloud computing, storage, and data transfer usage each month. Since Amazon EC2 is one of the most commonly-used services, we are going to look at it more closely; however, we encourage you to keep in mind that the principles mentioned can also be applied more widely across all AWS cloud services.
The four pricing models for Amazon EC2 are:
- On-demand instance — The basic on-demand pricing model enables you to pay for the services and resources you use by the hour or by the second, with minimum billing periods of 60 seconds. This cloud service model involves no long-term contract — so, it’s flexible but has the highest unit cost.
- Cost saving plan — If you can commit to a specific cloud usage every month, you can take advantage of the lower unit prices that AWS savings plans have to offer.
- Spot instance — It is possible to request spare computing capacity at discounted rates, for maximum flexibility in Amazon EC2. If you are running fault-tolerant services and applications, this can be an excellent way to lower your overall AWS cloud spending.
- Reserved instance — You can reserve AWS instances for up to three years in advance in exchange for significant discounts. However, if you do not need the instances that you reserve, there is no way to cancel them. This pricing model is, therefore, most suitable for organizations with predictable cloud computing requirements.
A reminder: For all of these pricing models, your total AWS cloud bill every month will depend on overall computing, storage, and data transfer usage. To reduce cloud costs for your organization and ensure that you only pay for what you use, you need to follow best practices at all times.
AWS Cloud Cost Management Best Practices
There are a number of steps you can take to manage your AWS cloud spend more effectively. By following recommended approaches, you will not only have the opportunity to reduce your overall expenses but also ensure you are never taken by surprise when your monthly cloud bill arrives.
Use Cost Visibility Tools
Whether you use the tools provided by AWS or you opt to use a more advanced cloud cost management tool from a third-party platform, it’s critical to see exactly where your money is going every month. You also need to know which resources are consuming your cloud budget, and you must be able to spot abnormal spikes in your costs as soon as they occur.
Build an Effective AWS Tagging Strategy
AWS gives you the ability to assign metadata labels to each cloud resource you consume. Building an effective tagging strategy clarifying which departments and organizations are actually consuming the resources in question enables far more efficiency in managing cloud costs.
Generate AWS Cost Allocation Reports
Assuming you have an effective tagging strategy in place, it helps generate cost allocation reports by department and by individual user accounts. These reports aid the implementation of an efficient cost allocation and chargeback system that ensures all resource usage is billed correctly.
Create Separate Production and Development AWS Accounts
When deciding which and how many AWS accounts to create, a good guideline to follow is to create as many as you need to achieve your goals and no more. Every account you create should make sense for your business, both in the present and in the future you are envisioning. Whatever you decide, having separate production and development accounts is good practice and definitely an approach every business should adopt from the get-go. Not only does it make managing each cloud environment easier, but it also allows for detailed cost control.
Employ Effective AWS Cost Optimization Strategies
All of the data that you can collect and analyze through creating tags, using separate accounts, and leveraging visibility tools from AWS or another third-party cloud provider will be of little use if you do not act on the results of your cost analysis. In the next section, we will look at practical methods for AWS cost optimization and ensure that you use the most suitable resources for your specific requirements.
By following best practices and optimization strategies, you could achieve a significant monthly cloud cost reduction, which you can either reinvest into your cloud system or allocate to other ICT needs.
Methods to Manage and Optimize AWS Costs
Once you are following AWS cloud cost management best practices, you will be in a position to actively gain cost insights, optimize your resource consumption and save on monthly expenses.
Use the Right Instances for Each Use Case
AWS offers many types of EC2 instances, which are designed to meet the needs of different use cases. By making sure that you use the right instances, you can optimize your resource allocation and consequently reduce your overall costs. You will find memory-optimized, compute-optimized, and storage-optimized instances, as well as accelerated computing and general-purpose instances in the AWS ecosystem. Each instance offers specific features and resources.
Allocate Costs Accurately
By implementing an effective tag policy and utilizing tools to encode these tagging rules for regular reporting, you’ll be able to use chargebacks to ensure that all costs are allocated to the correct organizations, departments, and individuals. Holding every user accountable for the resources they are consuming and the cost of these resources is one of the most effective ways to ensure that your monthly spending accurately reflects your cloud usage.
Use Daily and Weekly Reports to Avoid Surprises
With the ability to generate detailed reports at any time, there’s no reason to wait until the end of the month to see how your money is being spent. Ensure that individual usage and overall AWS costs remain in line with your expectations by either directly reading the AWS Cost and Usage Reports (CUR) or by taking advantage of services like our Stax Cost and Compliance module that compiles the AWS billing data into visual cloud insights and user-friendly reports.
Use the Right Pricing Model for Your Business
It's an obvious tip but one that bears repeating: Selecting the most suitable pricing model for your actual cloud usage is crucial, and this is not a set-and-forget scenario. If your cloud activities and consumption patterns change in the future, you may need to revisit your choice of pricing model and revise it accordingly.
To determine whether this is the case, make sure you look at the cost report on what you have been paying for, not just the default cost report on what you have paid and used. All the cost optimization strategies you can apply to the AWS platform will be of little consequence unless you select the right pricing model and review it at regular intervals.
Identify Underutilized EC2 Instances
Using the AWS Cost Explorer, you can generate a Resource Optimization report to highlight EC2 instances that are either idle or underutilized. Once you have identified such instances, you can either eliminate them or replace them with smaller instances that will meet your resource requirements at a lower cost.
Delete or Relocate older Snapshots
Data that is stored on Amazon EBS volumes can be backed up with Amazon S3 snapshots, providing a straightforward way to implement an effective disaster recovery strategy. However, good housekeeping dictates that you delete older versions that are no longer relevant or, if the data they hold is required for compliance purposes, move these snapshots to a more economical storage facility. It’s important to note that deleting a single snapshot may not result in a reduction in your costs: it is only when all snapshots relating to a particular set of data are removed that your storage costs will be reduced.
Effective AWS cost optimization strategies will go a long way toward helping you to control and reduce your overall spend. For best results, we recommend using specialized cloud cost management tools, such as those included in our native AWS cloud management and automation platform.
Stax’s Cloud Cost Management Tools
When you start with a strong foundation, you'll find it much easier to manage your AWS costs. Our management and automation platform, which is the only native cloud management platform available for AWS, will provide you with the tools you need to take full control of your AWS environment and manage your costs effectively.
Total Cloud Cost Visibility Enables Complete Control
If you want to control your AWS budget and extract maximum value from every resource you consume, it is essential to see where you are spending money and who is responsible for the spending. Stax gives you total visibility across the entire platform and each cloud expense, enabling you to take AWS cost management to the next level.
See exactly how much each AWS account is costing you every month. With separate accounts for several business units or development teams, you can quickly identify who is actually responsible for different features or cost centers within your business. This way, you can analyze a short-term spike in costs to identify the activity that caused it. Then you’ll know if it’s a justified expense or if it’s the first symptom of an ongoing problem in your regular production usage. Using individual accounts and our cloud optimization platform will ensure that you can easily identify the true source of future cost increases.
The ability to view your monthly, weekly, or daily AWS cost in terms of the resources being used will make it much easier to spot problems that stem from the use of unsuitable instances, as well as those that are caused by making the wrong long-term storage choices. It is also an invaluable aid to individual departments when attempting to identify the cause of cost spikes that are limited to one specific area of your business.
Actual and Predicted Spend Snapshots
See how much you have actually spent in any specific time period. If you want to find out the effect of changes in strategies and business activities, actual spend snapshots give you the ability to home in on the relevant time periods that you need to analyze. You can also view snapshots of anticipated costs to identify and eliminate unnecessary resources before they have a major impact on your cloud budget.
Detailed Data on Credits, Savings Plans, RI Purchases, Taxes and More
Stax provides real-time cloud monitoring and alerts to eliminate that monthly bill shock. With access to detailed information on all areas of your AWS environment, you will never be at a loss to explain where your money went.
From over-provisioning instances to paying for cloud infrastructure or storage that’s not being used — and many more scenarios — it’s easy to waste money in the AWS cloud without even knowing it. With the Stax Wastage Report, you will have access to a simple-to-read, visual summary of your wastage in only 10-15 minutes. You’ll also receive ongoing wastage recommendations to help you reduce cloud costs without making any sacrifices or cuts to your active instances.
If you would like to eliminate accidental AWS costs that are leading you to spend too much, contact us now to find out exactly how we can help.