5 steps to good Microsoft Azure Cloud Governance

The cloud offers some great benefits and advantages that are there for all to see. For organisations to truly reap the maximum benefit from their Microsoft Azure cloud investment, having the right governance framework and processes is absolutely crucial. Governance in Azure involves a variety of aspects right from the decision-making processes, criteria and policies involved in the planning, architecture, acquisition, deployment, operation and management of cloud computing.

To create a plan for Azure cloud governance, it is important to have a detailed understanding of the current people resources, processes and technology frameworks. The next step is to build the necessary frameworks that can empower IT teams to do what the business needs, while also allowing end-users the flexibility they need and demand to do their jobs well while benefiting from the features that Microsoft Azure offers.  

To get the best out of your Microsoft Azure cloud, consider the following governance parameters.

  • Define Roles Clearly and Control Access

It is important to define the account hierarchy for your cloud, based on business needs and data ownership. Defining this core governance structure with clearly articulated processes can help simplify governance greatly.

One great way to enable this is through the Azure Role-Based Access Control (RBAC) functionality that allows for some detailed access management for Azure. For instance, each user only gets the amount of access needed to perform their jobs.

The more fine-grained the access definitions, greater the security, as it eliminates the need to give unrestricted access to all users which thereby increase the number of potential attackers.

This also helps you assign responsibilities within the team and grant only the required access to each team member, with only a limited number of actions permitted for each user. To give an example, one person may be responsible for managing one particular aspect and another for a different aspect, then they each get permission for the same subscription, based on their roles. Users can either be assigned standard roles or well-defined custom roles.

  • Track and Manage Resources

Ability to track and manage all existing cloud resources is extremely important. One great way to track resources, especially since users are likely to add more resources to the subscription, is by parameters such as department, customer, and environment. Metadata can be attached to resources through tags that provide data about the resource or the owner. Using tags is a great way to not only aggregate and group resources in numerous ways, but the data can also be used for chargebacks.

Tags are especially useful when you are dealing with a complex variety of resource groups and resources. Tags allow you to visualize your assets in the most intuitive manner that works best for you. For instance, it could either be based on similar roles or departments or any other division that makes sense.

In the absence of these tags, managing multiple resources can often be challenging. Let’s say you need to delete resources associated with a particular project, finding each resource that corresponds to that particular project can be a veritable nightmare. In such a scenario, well defined tags can be a real lifesaver.

Because Azure allows users to create their own tag taxonomy, there is no danger of losing information to nonuniform defined tags. Putting together some standard organisation-wide rules for creating tags can help streamline the process.

Another great functionality in Azure is the Resource Manager, which brings several benefits. Not only does it allow you to manage, deploy and monitor services related to a solution as a group rather than individually; it also allows for access control to be applied to all resources in the group. The Resource Manager allows you to put resources into meaningful groups as per your convenience.

  • Cloud Security is Foremost

By far the biggest challenge for cloud adoption is concerns about security. Organisations are quite particular about wanting to retain control over their data. The data needs to be secure and private at all times.  Yet, it must be available on demand. Maintaining transparency and ensuring continuous compliance with organizational standards is of utmost importance.

Businesses are often concerned that moving to the cloud will likely leave them more susceptible to attacks by hackers, as compared to legacy on-premise solutions. While these security fears aren’t entirely misplaced, it is also true that the cloud can provide greater data security and administrative control, as compared to on-premise.

While the prospect of saving on infrastructure costs and improving scalability and flexibility is what generally attracts people to the cloud, there is a real concern about data privacy on the cloud. IT managers are worried about losing control over where their data is stored, who is accessing it, and how it gets used. Therefore, they are often wary of storing their precious data over a cloud.

Therefore, ensuring that you know where your data is saved and being able to independently verify its location are key. This transparency can go a long way in addressing security fears.

Given that Azure subscribers are likely to manage their cloud environments from various devices, it is important to have task-specific permissions. Administrative functions can sometimes be carried out through web-based consoles. Alternatively, it can also be through client endpoints such as tablets or smartphone; or through on-premises systems over VPN or client application protocols.

While having multiple access and management capabilities is great, it also adds to the risk significantly because managing, tracking, and auditing administrative actions can be extremely difficult. This makes it more vulnerable to security threats due to unregulated access to client endpoints used to manage cloud services and opens up to unknown threats from web browsing or phishing emails.

While it may be difficult to monitor or log or audit all actions due to the sheer volumes, it is highly recommended as a best practice.

Of course, none of this matters if the compliance piece is missing. As complexity and scope of cloud based solutions increases setting stringent compliance processes and ensuring that they are adhered to, is extremely crucial. Compliance standards also need to evolve as regulations change.

Tools such as the Azure Security Center, which provides a central view of the security status of resources in the subscriptions, are helpful. Azure Security Center also provides recommendations to prevent compromised resources and help enable more granular policies.  It is a great combination of best practice analysis and security policy management for all resources within an Azure subscription. It also analyzes resource security health based on the organisation’s policies and provides useful dashboards and alerts for suspicious events such as malware detection or malicious IP connection attempts.

  • Automate Automate Automate

Given the complexity of cloud operations, expecting governance to be performed by an already loaded IT team is unfair and often ineffective. Managing cloud governance manually is not a realistic expectation. Using automation is key for effective governance.

Cloud automation is a fundamental building block for the cloud computing paradigm. The aim of automation essentially is to make all cloud related activities as fast and efficient as possible, with little manual intervention. This is possible through the use of numerous software automation tools

The objective is to overcome the complexity that cloud computing orchestration brings with respect to deploying different resources in the cloud. With automation tools, requests around deployment and allocation of resources can be addressed quickly and efficiently without intervention from the administrator. The administration needs to simply choose the right options and the software takes over from that point.

It makes governance much simpler when IT is rid of repetitive and time-intensive tasks that can be automated. With an effective rules engine, automation can help curb extra spending and consumption, and also optimise the use of resources by shutting down workloads when they are not required.

  • Understand the road-map

One important aspect that governs cloud governance practices is a thorough understanding of what the objective of your cloud implementation is. Is your focus on improving IT efficiency? Or are you expecting your cloud to drive business innovation? If you have multiple goals, then you need to ensure that they’re not at odds with each other.

Equally important is an understanding of the overall business strategy and the direction in which the company is heading. All these factors impact your cloud governance strategies.

While there is no debate about the relevance of cloud computing, effective cloud governance is essential in order to reap maximum benefits. To know more about Microsoft Azure cloud and cost optimization you can read here.

 

7 Best Practices to Follow for Reducing Spend in Azure

The enterprises’ migration to cloud computing platform has exceptionally increased in the last decade.  This move has contributed significantly to the real change in the world of IT. However, companies did not notice any significant change in the cost incurred after adapting to the cloud environment.

Thus, the market saw a boom in various cloud management platforms providing integrated services for cost management. Azure from Microsoft is an integrated cloud services with agile, responsive, innovative and simple solutions. Most of the companies migrate to public cloud by disregarding the prerequisite that cost cutting depends on efficient management and automation. Hence, it is wise that the companies follow proven best practices to reduce spend in Azure and make optimization in a cost effective manner.

  1.    Cease the usage of Zombie Assets

These are assets that are not being used but continue to run in your cloud environment. It can be in the form of idle Load Balancers or an idle SQL Database. If these assets are non-essential it is mandatory that you terminate it from your VM. Microsoft will charge if these assets are in running state.

  1.    Upgrade to latest generation

For certain VM types, there is an option to upgrade to the latest versions. These latest versions of Azure VMs have similar price points and perform better than the older versions. To cite an example, D-series VM gives 35% faster processing for the same price.

  1.    Delete unattached disk storage

For a VM application, Disk Storage acts as the local block storage.  The Disk Storage remains active even though a VM’s performance is terminated. Microsoft continues to charge for the date despite the fact that it is no longer being used. The risk of having unattached storage is high because of the dynamic nature of cloud computing. Azure bill can be brought down drastically if you repeatedly check for unattached Disk Storage in your cloud infrastructure.

  1.    Delete aged Snapshots

To create point-in-time recovery many companies use Disk Storage and Snapshots on Blob. But you need to closely monitor Snapshot costs to avoid huge billing amount. The organizations can get Snapshots back in action by monitoring the cost per usage of VM. It is very important to ensure that they don’t act out of control and increase spend in Azure.

  1.    Right size Disk Storage

Capacity, IOPS, and throughput are the most important factors to be considered with Disk Storage. Deleting unattached disk storage is one of the ways to bring down the cost incurred by VM. Also, you can find out which disks are taking the maximum Disk Storage and thereby modify it to gain potential cost reduction.

  1.    Right size Virtual Machines

As a part of cost cutting initiative, VM right sizing is very important. The developers will spin up new VMs that may be larger than necessary. This will help them to gain extra headroom since they don’t know the performance requirements of the new workload. This can lead to the increase in the cost of VM. Hence it is important to check CPU utilization, memory utilization, disk utilization, and network in/out utilization. Right sizing all the VMs can help cost reduction without harnessing the performance of the applications.

  1.    Stop and Start VMs within a scheduled time

Depending on the month in which you are running VMs, the bill of Azure varies. For the applications running 24/7, Microsoft charges 672 to 744 hours per VM. So it is wise if you can stop your VMs on non-working days like holidays and weekends. This can reduce the cost incurred by your organization. If it is flexible work environment and global teams work on the same VM, then you can just stop VMs outside normal work timings. It is always advisable to stop and start VMs on a specific scheduled time.

All these best practices are not just one-time process. You must continuously do it to optimize the cost-efficiency of the cloud environment. Read more to know more

Announcing Botmetric Cost & Governance Beta in Microsoft Azure

Since 2014, we’ve been managing our Botmetric products like Cost & Governance, Security & Compliance, and Ops & Automation; for our greatest AWS users across the globe. We are happy that we managed to help enterprises to leverage cloud computing to their platform.  Now we have immense pleasure and delight to announce the beta release of Botmetric Cost & Governance in Microsoft Azure.

What is Azure?

The term ‘Azure’ stands for ‘bright blue in color like a cloudless sky’. By keeping that terminology in mind, Microsoft has adopted the term ‘Azure’ to denote their cloud computing platform-Microsoft Azure.

What makes Microsoft Azure special?

As per the definition given by Microsoft, Microsoft Azure is a growing collection of integrated cloud services which developers and IT professionals use to build, deploy and manage applications through the global network of data centers. With Azure, you get the freedom to build and deploy the instances wherever you want by using the tools, applications, and frameworks of your choice.

Azure focuses on protecting your assets by using a rigorous methodology that follows 4 milestones: Security, Privacy, Compliance, and Transparency.

How can you manage your spend on Cloud wisely?

Most of the companies migrate to public cloud by disregarding the prerequisite that cost-cutting depends on efficient management and automation. Hence it is wise that the companies follow proven best practices to reduce the spend in Azure and make optimization in a cost-effective manner.

Botmetric Cost & Governance in Azure is an integrated platform for enterprises to control their spend on the cloud. It’s an ecosystem that enables your enterprise to track the cost incurred for services that run on your cloud platform.

How can we help you?

Most of the companies migrate to public cloud by disregarding the prerequisite that cost-cutting depends on efficient management and automation. Hence it is wise that the companies follow proven best practices to reduce spend in Azure and make optimization in a cost-effective manner.

In this beta version, Botmetric has enabled Cost & Governance in Azure’s cloud platform with:

  1. Powerful dashboard – holistic view of Azure spend
  2. Azure Analyze – Deep dive into Azure cost analysis

Let’s have a look at the features of Botmetric Cost & Governance in Azure

Dashboard Overview

Botmetric Cost & Governance for Azure has a powerful dashboard that gives you a holistic overview of your overall spend under a single pane of glass. It has always proven to deliver concise information that needs minimal time to consume. It is the welcome screen which will throw insights and help you to start your day with precise required information about your Azure cloud.

Botmetric converts your Azure cost data into actionable insights that give you a comprehensive picture of your entire spending of your enterprise. With Botmetric you can view monthly usage charges, compare current Azure spend with previous month’s, review cost projections for next month or a year from a single pane. Get 360-degree visibility into your Azure spending and get smart insights to keep your Azure cloud costs under control.

How to drill down your Azure spend by using Botmetric?

View month-to-date cost trends displayed in clean graphical charts to keep a track of your monthly consumption of Azure services and respective costs. Discover those unknown spikes and dig deeper to understand and evaluate the key cost drivers and rogue elements that are causing the spikes. There are more than 8 filters that will help you to deep dive and gain desired granular data. Learn which Azure service/subscription has incurred unrealistic costs to your enterprise.

Who can use this?

Azure compatibility is available to all Botmetric users. You can pull the spending data from any Azure EA; simply configure your Azure EA by entering your Azure Enterprise Enrollment ID and API Access Key on the Credentials page to get started.

Azure Account Controls

You can include Azure Subscriptions and AWS Accounts in the same Botmetric Account Group. Use these Account Groups to restrict users’ views to specific areas of spending to group cost-based business unit or cost center.

Coming soon…

We are also providing the Save functionality in Azure for Cost & Governance where all your actionable insights on possible Azure savings converge under one roof. Users who have a major concern for savings in the cloud, have a greater opportunity and ease to save now in Azure with Botmetric.

A Start-up’s Resolution to Cloud Sprawl Using SaaS-based Cloud Management Platform

As more and more businesses are moving online, cloud is gaining relevance. However, often without the information or expertise on how to control the cloud, businesses are running the risk of cloud sprawling.

Cloud Sprawl, as defined by Techopedia is “the uncontrolled proliferation of an organization’s cloud instances or cloud presence. It happens when an organization inadequately controls, monitors and manages its different cloud instances, resulting in numerous individual cloud instances which may then be forgotten but continue to use up resources or incur costs since most organizations use pay  for public cloud services.”

However, before we get to understand how to prevent or control cloud sprawling we must first understand how cloud works, what challenges you face without the required information, and subsequently how SaaS-based platforms can deliver the required results for your organization.

Cloud-computing helps you, as an organization, to use the internet as your ‘go-to place’ for all your IT infrastructural needs using a web browser. It enables information to be accessed across the organization to build some sense of universal connectivity. SaaS, though similar, takes over the management of this cloud ; while letting you focus on your development of products and services through a web browser with no physical installation needed.

Software as a Service (SaaS) integration and clouds are leading to the increased use of the Internet of Things (IoT). Many organizations are recognizing the need for IoT to save cost and build new revenue streams. However, before we get ahead of ourselves, it is first important to understand the types of clouds that exist; namely, private cloud, public cloud, and hybrid cloud.

Determining which type of cloud is best for you will largely depends on the kind of business you run. If you are the kind of organization that wants to go public, a public cloud is best suited for you. Apart from being fairly cheap, it also gives you agility. On the other hand, if security is a major concern for your business, then private cloud may be the answer.

Different Clouds to the Rescue

Private clouds provide you the ability to have compliance checks and higher levels of control over the information in the cloud. Private cloud, on the other hand, comes with the disadvantage of being expensive, and restrictive in terms of the speed at which you can innovate; when compared to a public cloud. Hybrid cloud is a good mix and ideal for large organizations. This gives organizations the ability to have a mix of public and private clouds that help them be more flexible in terms of pricing and workability.

The Real Challenge

Though many organizations are adapting to the cloud platform, often not knowing what combination works best and how to control it leads to a lot of inefficiencies in management. Here are some of the challenges that organizations face while managing their own cloud.

  • Security issues: Security is one of the biggest concerns for an organization that is migrating to a cloud-based solution. Specifically, in cases where an organization is trying to create its own cloud environment, rather than using public ones that come with predetermined checks and balances on the security front. When creating a private cloud network, the organization will have to create its own regulations that have to be met. Organizations will be solely responsible to secure their own data. This will require you, to learn to use the applications efficiently, track apps, and ensure that they are secure. This is a daunting task especially if you do not have the training or the resources to manage it effectively; especially, if multiple cloud instances are involved.
  • Performance management: There are many cloud vendors that provide organizations cloud platforms. Choosing the right one that suits you will determine how well your organization’s cloud performs. Some vendors may give erratic performance and could drain your organization’s resources. Apart from selecting the right vendor, you also need to ensure that you have the tools to track the clouds performance. Monitoring is an important aspect of ensuring that the vendor is not taking advantage and delivering on the Service Level Agreement (SLA) agreed upon by both the parties.
  • Special expertise: Often, when migrating to a cloud-based platform, the IT staff in the organization may or may not have the expertise to handle and manage the cloud environment that it is being migrated to. The workload on the staff increases as they have to comply and learn about the new environment they have to work with.  This also means the staff will need training on agile methodologies, DevOps tools, and working within the cloud management platforms – this would require focused learning on multiple areas including admin, coding and operations. This will require the existing staff to be trained, new staff to be selected with the specific skills and the option to consider the use of third-party plug to help ease things out.
  • Migration difficulties: Sometimes if you decide you want to change your vendor, after taking the all-important decision to go with them in the first place, you can find yourself having trouble migrating from one vendor to another.  This is because the architecture and tools used by various vendors can be very different. Therefore, it becomes vital to pick the right kind of vendor and ensure that you are taking an account of all the migration difficulties you might face, should you decide to move.
  • Cost Efficiency: At the outset it can be said that migrating to a cloud could be a big benefit to the company. However, determining which type of cloud to use can, in the end, influence the economies of scale. Having said that, as you move more services to the cloud, the cost of the cloud rises, not including the cost paid to the vendors. Therefore, managing the cloud and prioritizing the information that sits in it becomes a major company responsibility. Additionally, if you are building your own cloud and not enough people within your organization use it; that automatically increases the cost to the company.
  • Skill shortage: Having the skill to control the fate of your cloud is a very important aspect in cloud management. Skills include technical ones to create or set up the cloud, and management skills to ensure there are no breaks in the service. Small issues in the management of the cloud could result in huge problems for the organization. If you already do not have the technical or management skills, it will be an uphill climb to ensure that the cloud is up and running; leading to lots of frustration within the organization.
  • Time and effort: Though cloud management is getting a lot easier in these times of rapid change, management of the cloud takes a lot of time and effort. If you, therefore, decide to manage your cloud on your own; apart from skill set you will also need to devote time towards its management. This could sometimes translate into hiring a resource to just do that on a regular basis. Especially, in situations when things go wrong; fixing it could be both tedious and time consuming.
  • Technology options: Technology is ever changing; and with it the options available to choose from are multiplying. There are a host of hardware and software options emerging in the market. Even if you do not want the best of the hardware and software, to know the options that are available will take some of your time to keep at the technological growth in the cloud space. Sometimes, the difference between a very expensive solution when compared to a not so expensive one could be a minor change; this information will only be made available to you if you follow the technology developments closely.
  • Scalability: It is important to see if the amount of space you have in the cloud is the only amount of space you are using; lest you pay more for than what you use. Additionally, if you need more space suddenly, it is important to see if the current arrangement is scalable. Insufficient space is as problematic as abundant space in the cloud. It, therefore, becomes vital to keep a balance and pick options that work best for you.
  • Reliability: Reliability is an important piece of the puzzle. Is the data in a safe place that is accessible as and when needed? Is the data backed up to ensure that nothing is lost in space? All of these are important things to look at while managing the cloud.

As businesses start to adapt cloud services, many are suffering because of cloud sprawling. What’s more, the different departments within the organization are using different systems to solve different issues within the cloud. Often organizations do not know how it works and where the gaps in the business are. Additionally, because of the lack of knowledge in cloud technology to begin with; more and more organizations are losing money; while they could potentially be saving it.

The Solution: Leveraging SaaS-based Platforms

SaaS-based platforms and applications best help organizations with this very thing. They make organizations cloud management easier while ensuring efficiency. With SaaS, organizations can leave the maintenance of the physical servers and cloud-based software application to the SaaS provider. Instead, organizations can use the cloud whilst the SaaS provider manages everything at a subscription fee. Software updates, management of developed software application, and so on are all managed through a web browser. Though you lose some amount of control on the customization of the product; management, updates, and maintenance will no longer be your organization’s headache.

Overall, there are many solution providers that help organizations manage their cloud platform. Here are some of the benefits that they get to the table.

Flexibility of options: There are many best-of-breed functionalities that are provided by SaaS platforms. SaaS solutions are available for almost every kind of cloud challenge or need. There are those that support web services and some that support HTTP REST. Others have SOAP services or have proprietary APIs to integrate with.  There are still others that only integrate using a file-based integration. For these diverse options, on the enterprise side, there are tools to integrate with SaaS applications as well. This gives organizations different options to choose from based on their organizational size, requirements and budgets.

Efficiency and support: SaaS provider’s expertise lies in their ability to make SaaS work for your organization; that is their product offering. This means they have spent time and resources to research on how to better your SaaS experience and continue to do so. Additionally, they are backed by experience and the wherewithal to deal with any issues that may rise and the expertise to deal with them. They typically are equipped to handle emergencies, or at least will have a team of researchers working on how to fix the problem and offer support.  

Lower operation cost: SaaS-based applications provide the option to take on their services for a fee. This means that you do not need resources within the organization that are looking at cloud based solutions or problem solving in these areas.  A subscription based model results in lesser amount of money spent on hardware, software, and people required to manage it. You, as an organization, know exactly how much you will be paying as compared to sourcing software individually.

Hassle free:  SaaS enables the integration of applications while ensuring access to all the needs of different roles within an organization. By maintaining, managing, and processing data that are kept on servers, SaaS solutions enable organizations to focus on what they do best – work towards building their product or solution. Some providers even provide a front-end server that is functional, even if the back-end cloud is down, making the working environment for the organization uninterrupted.

Scalability: The ability to scale as a SaaS provider is both efficient and seamless.  Additionally, some of the SaaS providers also provide customization options to their organization; giving them the flexibility to make the solution suit their specific needs. Additionally, since they have the ability to integrate with other SaaS solutions, it becomes easier to scale towards a new need or requirement.  

Seamless upgrades: The SaaS provider handles all the upgrades within the system and all of this is updated through the internet. So there are no patches that need to be deployed at the customer’s side to get everyone updated to the latest technology.  Security, upgrades, uptime, new features, and more – are all the responsibility of the SaaS provider, making working within the environment easier.

Reduced time to benefit: When you use a SaaS provider, their solutions come packed with all the features agreed up – installed and configured. The applications are ready to use, without down time to cater to each employee’s needs. Additionally, many SaaS providers also give free trials of application making decision making easier and with hands on experience.

Higher adoption rate: Most SaaS solutions are accessible through familiar web browsers. This makes it easier for people to access and learn, leading to higher adoption rate. The lack of a requirement for special tools or software to access enables users or employees to easily start working in their familiar environments. Additionally, it comes with the luxury of being able to work from anywhere as long as you have an internet connection making it so much more convenient. Not to mention the access through multiple device options that is growing in popularity.

Transform how your company views IT: The company and the IT department of the organization gets completely transformed under the able watch of SaaS. With handling of the deployment and handling of applications and software, the IT department can focus more on the immediate needs of the organization. They can focus on goals that help, aid, and support the teams to achieve common organizational goals.

Having said this, it is clear that though cloud and SaaS are different, they can be closely related. The IoT is the future, and the integration of cloud with SaaS is paving the way to a smooth transition in the internet world. SaaS, with cloud, is enabling users integrate applications, find simpler more efficient fixes, automate processes and make DevOps a reality.

SaaS’s popularity is on a steady rise because of its simplified deployment capabilities and diminished set up and acquisition costs.  Latest features, improved services, and greater return on investments are just some of the salient features that are helping organizations using SaaS to benefit from this booming new business.

There are many SaaS-based companies that have started focusing on and expanding their SaaS offerings to help organizations overcome the difficulties that they face with technology. There are many options available, so it is important to pick the offering that best suits your organizational needs. There are many players big and small that provide great solutions at varied prices offering different kind of customization and support. Ensure to do the research before falling into a trap. Evaluate things like your needs, the costs involved, and the timeline of the project. Make sure that the SLA is in place and is agreed upon, both by you and your provider; this will help lay down clear expectations and protect yourself for contingencies that may occur.

This said, it is important to remember that this adaptation within an organization does take time; and change is a process and cannot be done overnight.

The Final Word

Change is not easy. Any change in an organization starts with a conversation and further a buy in by all the stakeholders; so as an organization always remember to get a buy in from the teams that will use this system.

What’s more, after you make the right decision on the kind of SaaS provider you want, you get the luxury of having a partner that is working towards helping make your business a success. This eventually leads to a mutually beneficial relationship.

Finally, Saas-based platforms aim at making it easy for enterprises to work with clouds and ensure they benefit from it. Botmetric, a product by Minjar, specializes in cloud implementation and consultation. It is an intelligent cloud management platform that is designed to make cloud easy for engineers. Sign up now, to see how Botmetic can help you with your SaaS needs.

Basic AWS Data Transfer Cost Saving Tips for Beginners

Data transfer cost can be a messy affair for most of the people new to AWS. These basic tips can help beginners save cost on their data transfer.

Anxiety over Dynamic Cost Elements

The key advantage of dynamic provisioning of Cloud Platforms is the variability of costs based on actual usage patterns. Without the dynamic costing mechanism, Cloud Platforms are indistinguishable from internal data centers or hosting servers that provide dedicated servers. Even though the cost benefits of the dynamic provisioning feature are very clear, there is always an anxiety among users, especially during the initial adoption phase, that the bills from the Cloud usage would get out of control and give a surprise shock.  Data Transfer is one of the most common cost element that Cloud Platform users are oblivious about. Understanding and Managing this can neutralize the biggest risk to Cloud Cost management.

Cost Management for Data Transfer Intensive Applications

Developers and Administrators of Web Applications that are data intensive such as websites that have millions of users, applications that use audio-video files heavily and Big Data applications have to take adequate controls in data transfer to avoid surprise spikes in bills. Data Transfer costs to special purpose data storage services incur costs specific to the storage types. However it is free if the data transfer is between the instances in the same availability zone. It is critical to understand about when the data transfer costs are applicable for EC2 instances. While there are many sources for billing information about data transfer costs, we need to put the information within the context of actual usage scenarios to get a clear understanding of the costs involved.

Understanding the Incoming Data Transfer Costs for EC2

For EC2 instances, the incoming data transfer costs are different from outgoing data transfer costs. Let us look at the costing information for EC2 incoming Data Transfer costs:

The costs are free, except:

Using a public or Elastic IP address, it’s 1c / GB

Amazon EC2, Amazon RDS, Amazon Redshift and Amazon ElastiCache instances or Elastic Network Interfaces in another Availability Zone or peered VPC in the same AWS Region, it’s 1c / GB

To understand the above costing information better, we need to know the usage scenarios when incoming data transfers happen to EC2 instances.

The incoming data transfer happens when the developers upload code and additional software modules into the application server. It is very rare that the volume of this type of data transfer crosses volumes in multiples of GBs. Even then, if the EC2 instance is using a public or Elastic IP address, the cost would be about 1c / GB only. The other usage scenario when this happens is only where the end users of the application upload high volume data such as image, audio and video files to the application server. If this use case is not in the application, one need not worry about incurring the incoming data transfer cost at all.

Understanding Outgoing Data Transfer Costs for EC2

Let us look at billing information for outgoing data transfer costs for the EC2 instances.

It’s charged out of EC2 for:

Using a public or Elastic IP address, 1c / GB

Amazon EC2, Amazon RDS, Amazon Redshift or Amazon ElastiCache instances, Amazon Elastic Load Balancing

or Elastic Network Interfaces in another Availability Zone or peered VPC in the same AWS Region – 1c / GB

Another AWS Region, 2c / GB

We need to understand the above information from usage scenarios perspective to evaluate the cost implications. Mostly the above costs would be incurred only when the data transfer occurs via web services between two Public and Elastic IP addresses. Even in these use cases, the cost is just about 1c per GB. The other use case is where data stored in the EC2 instance have to be moved to specialized storage services like Amazon RDS etc. Another use case is Disaster Recovery application when data is moved between storage services in different AWS region.

Managing Costs using Amazon CloudFront

The Data Transfer Cost is free for most common usage scenarios where data is transferred between storage in same zone.

There is no data transfer cost involved when transferring data out of EC2 to Amazon S3, Amazon Glacier, Amazon DynamoDB, Amazon SES, Amazon SQS, or Amazon SimpleDB in the same AWS Region

Amazon EC2, Amazon RDS, Amazon Redshift or Amazon ElastiCache instances, Amazon Elastic Load Balancing, or Elastic Network Interfaces in the same Availability Zone

Using a private IP address

Amazon CloudFront

From the above billing information, it is clear that there is no cost for data transfer from EC2 to Amazon CloudFront. The implication is that if we leverage Amazon CloudFront to server images, audio and video files to the end-users, we can keep the data transfer costs at a very optimal level.

Botmetric has a dedicated app for Data Transfer cost analysis so that this grey area of cost in your AWS bill is unraveled. You can drill down to discover granular cost by transfer type, accounts, services, tags, regions and many more.

5 Point Guide For Today’s CFO to AWS Cloud Cost Management

We’ve seen a sharp increase in the use of cloud infrastructure over the last couple of years. There’s a range of useful services, various pricing structures with added options for saving costs by various cloud providers like AWS, Azure, Google etc. Because of this, enterprises have the elasticity to scale their existing IT infrastructures in order to match the performance and workload SLA requirements. Whether it’s for enterprise applications, testing, and development, data analysis or building  ecommerce platforms, companies have a number of choices regarding costing options and choosing the specific services that best suit for their work.

However, cloud costs can quickly increase without governance processes in place as team members can spin up infrastructure at will and with so many features and services and if companies don’t optimize their spending, avoidable and unnecessary bills can quickly pile up. Without an adequate understanding of your enterprise cloud spending and IT usage, most companies end up with a bill that is significantly higher than it normally would be. Although selling more products and services allows for bigger profits, but for now, we’ll focus more on reducing the costs associated with managing and operating a cloud infrastructure.

Understanding the various usage and cost structures

Although it may seem to an average person that every cloud infrastructure company offers unique pricing options, there are some similarities and generalized cost classifications, such as user-licensing, resource-by-the-hour (which is offered by almost all IaaS models) and an all-inclusive site license. But even resource and user licensing have a plethora of different tiers, including small vs. large virtual machine or specific functionality license vs. a full access license. It’s important for companies to figure out which tier suits them best early on and which one is most likely to suit them later, as the business continues to grow.

Maximizing cloud efficiency with multi-platform environments

Reducing cloud costs can also be accomplished by using just the right networks, servers and storage to handle your particular application workloads. Multi-platform environments like AWS BeanStalk are ideal for this type of work, as they can automatically scale-up or scale-down workloads which are best suited based on your scaling parameters like application usage or traffic or visitors or system parameters like CPU/Memory/Network etc. This workload-specific approach allows specific tasks to run significantly better and faster. As requests are being assigned and handled automatically,  you focus only on the most pressing task in order to maximize efficiency through the auto-scaling approach and, in turn, reduce the costs required to operate them.

AWS and Reserved Instances

Since Amazon Web Services are currently dominating the marketplace, most CFOs are looking for new ways to optimize it in order to tip the scale regarding cost and profit margins. When it comes to AWS, the Reserved Instances can actually be re-purposed to suit different workloads in your business without suffering a penalty. Reserved Instances are basically discounts that companies get for their upfront commitment. They have lower costs of usage per hour, but RI’s will only work if the instances are going to be consistently used.

AWS and Spot Instances

The single most overlooked feature that truly differentiates AWS from many cloud infrastructure solutions is the Spot Instances and Spot Market. These represent the spare capacity usually available at rather large discounts and operate in an auction-based model pricing. They are best used once the company has determined exactly what kind of task it needs to execute and simply run it using a Spot Instance. By using AWS API’s, you can automate the procurement and usage of Spot instances for your enterprise batch workloads, data cleaning workloads or even use spot instances as part of auto-scaling strategy for enterprise workloads that can tolerate instance failures.

Get the most out of AWS

The average AWS instance uses only around 30% of CPU based on 1000’s of instances analyzed by Botmetric. This means that companies have two-thirds or their operating power sitting idly. Categorizing workload as either memory or CPU intensive is one of the first steps in utilizing instances effectively. Once you’ve realized what your company’s utilization patterns are, identifying the type of instances that push the utilization to a higher percentage becomes easy. Don’t worry about pushing the limits of AWS utilization. Even if the hardware fails, all you have to do is provision another instance using AWS console or API’s through automation.

What most business leaders and IT owners fail to realize is that most cloud providers, including the AWS, offer incremental discounts which are proportionate to the increase in use, these volume discounts are available for Compute, Storage and Network Bandwidth etc. In other words, the more you use, the bigger the discount. Fortunately, these can be used in a myriad of ways and incorporated into existing discounts for an even larger margin for savings. AWS also offers Enterprise Discount Program for large customers that spend over $1 million per annum on their Cloud.

Are you a CFO who is awaiting a complete cloud cost control and governance management on a single platform? Then log onto Botmetric now!

Botmetric Cost & Governance for Advanced Budget Alerting

IT budgeting can start with a painful process but end in crafting a better strategy and road mapping. Post cloud adoption you grew and so did your cloud spend and keeping budget spend at par was always required, so that you have the money for resources that are need of the hour and required reservations. There are various mechanism to control budgets, and alerts are the easiest way to control your budgets.

Botmetric’s Cost & Governance has a crisp budget alerting where when amount exceeded on payer account will trigger alerts. A lot of customer requests for more filtered budget alerting for a much-focused cost management.

With new budget alerts, now Botmetric users can:

Set budget alert for linked accounts

Now you can configure budget alerts for linked accounts along daily, weekly and monthly filters. So from now, if any of the linked accounts are exceeding your set accepted budget figure, you will get notified instantly.

Set budget alert for cost center

A lot of businesses have an understanding of their silos in cloud infrastructure in the form of cost centers. They gauge spend and addition of resources in terms of cost centers. For them budget alerts for cost center will empower in setting set accepted budget figure, which when exceeded will be notified instantly

Set budget alert for custom group

Very powerful budgeting feature where you can create a group with different rules and filters to create a custom defined budget alerts.

Custom budget alert has rules for:

  •  Linked accounts
  •  AWS services
  •  Reserved Instances
  •  AWS Tags

Accompanied across filters for:

  • Daily
  • Weekly
  • Monthly

Example: Suppose you are looking for EC2 RI’s in a linked account for <tag:Production> if exceeds $10000 to send an alert, you can create a custom group for this alert and get updated whenever set budget exceeds.

Budget alerts are crucial to keep your cloud finance in place and keep you always informed.

AWS EC2 Pricing and Best Practices: The Complete Factsheet on Price Reduction and Cost Optimization

For the uninitiated, AWS recently announced a price reduction on its compute instances.  The most significant part of the announcement is the new three-year no-upfront Standard RI.  As an AWS user, you must understand the price reduction completely and learn how to make better use of reduction in AWS EC2 pricing and reap the most of it.

However, before we directly get the price reduction, let’s start with the AWS EC2 pricing with the real fact sheets.  

AWS EC2: Four-way Pay and Usage

“Pay-as-you-go” is the fundamental of AWS pricing and this applies very well to the AWS EC2 pricing. You use the computing resources as you want, and pay only for what you use. This unique proposition has been the win-win for both the customer and AWS making it the market leader in cloud computing infrastructure.

There are four ways to pay for AWS EC2 instances: On-Demand, Reserved Instances, Spot Instances, and Dedicated Hosts.

Let’s analyze these offerings in detail before we start price reduction and optimal usage of the various AWS EC2 products.

On-Demand instances

AWS EC2 On-Demand instances enable you to pay for computing capacity by the hour. There are no long-term commitments or upfront payments. You pay only for the specified hourly usage of the instances you have opted for, and can increase or decrease your computing capacity depending on the demands of your applications.

On-Demand instances are highly recommended if:

  • You prefer the low cost and flexibility of AWS EC2 without any upfront payment or long-term commitment.
  • You have applications with short-term, spiky, or unpredictable workloads that cannot be interrupted.
  • Your applications being developed or tested on AWS EC2 for the first time.

On-Demand Pricing

On-Demand instances let you pay for compute capacity by the hour with no long-term commitments.

If you really want to free yourself from the costs and complexities of planning, purchasing, and maintaining hardware, you must go for AWS EC2 On-Demand instances. This offering transforms large fixed costs into much smaller variable costs.

For complete AWS EC2 On-Demand instances pricing, visit the AWS EC2 On-Demand Pricing page.

Spot Instances

AWS EC2 Spot instances allow you to bid on spare AWS EC2 computing capacity for up to 90% of the On-Demand price.  You get access to unused AWS EC2 instance capacity at discounts relative to On-Demand instance prices. It’s like a bid where, the Spot instance price fluctuates based on the supply and demand of available unused AWS EC2 capacity.

Spot instances are recommended if:

  • You have applications that have flexible start and end times.
  • You have applications that are only feasible at very low compute prices.
  • You need compute capacity urgently for large amounts of additional capacity.

Spot Pricing

In a Spot instance bid, you specify the maximum Spot price you are willing to pay. Your Spot instance is launched when the Spot price is lower than the price you specified, and will continue to run until you choose to terminate it or the Spot price exceeds the maximum price you specified.

You will never be charged more than the maximum price you specified and while your instance runs, you are charged the Spot price that is in effect for that period.  If the Spot price exceeds your specified price, your instance will receive a two-minute notification before it is terminated, and you will not be charged for the partial hour that your instance has run.

For complete AWS EC2 Spot Instance pricing, visit the AWS EC2 Spot Instances Pricing page.

Reserved Instances

AWS EC2 Reserved instances provide you with a significant discount (up to 75%) compared to On-Demand instance pricing. Reserved instances also provide a capacity reservation, if assigned to a specific Availability Zone, thereby ensuring your ability to launch instances when you need them.

AWS EC2 Reserved instances come handier when you have applications that have steady state or predictable usage, and provide significant savings compared to using On-Demand instances.

Reserved Instances are recommended if:

  • You have applications with steady state usage.
  • You have applications that may require reserve capacity.
  • You are a committed customer for a one year or three year term.

Reserved Pricing

There are two types pricing models for AWS EC2 Reserved Instances: Standard Pricing and Convertible Pricing.

The Standard pricing model enables you to purchase reserved instances for a one-year or three-year term and offers significant discounts (up to 75%) compared to On-Demand instances. You have the flexibility to change the Availability Zone, the instance size, and networking type of your Standard Reserved Instances.

The Convertible pricing model suits best if you need additional flexibility, such as the ability to use different instance families, operating systems, or tenancies over the Reserved Instance term. Convertible Reserved Instances provide you with a significant discount (up to 45%) compared to On-Demand and can be purchased for a 3-year term.

Reserved Instance Payment Options

There are three payment options for you to choose when you purchase Standard or Convertible Reserved Instance:

  • No Upfront—discounted hourly rate for every hour within the term, regardless of usage. No upfront payment is required. For Standard Reserved Instances, this option is only available as a 1-year reservation. For Convertible Reserved Instances, the option is available as a 3-year reservation.
  • Partial Upfront—pay a portion of the cost upfront and the remaining hours in the term are billed at a discounted hourly rate, regardless of usage.
  • All Upfront—Full payment is made at the start of the term, with no other costs incurred for the remainder of the term regardless of the number of hours used. This option provides you with the largest discount compared to On-Demand instance pricing.

For complete AWS EC2 Reserved Instance pricing, visit the AWS EC2 Reserved Instances Pricing page.

Dedicated Hosts

A Dedicated Host is a physical AWS EC2 server dedicated for your use. Dedicated Hosts address your compliance requirements and reduce costs by allowing you to use your existing server-bound software licenses.

You can purchase Dedicated Hosts on hourly on-demand basis and as a reservation for up to 70% off the On-Demand price.

Dedicated Hosts are recommended if:

  • You have to launch AWS EC2 instances on physical servers that are dedicated for your use.
  • You require additional visibility and control over how instances are placed on a physical server.
  • You have to consistently deploy your instances to the same physical server over time.
  • You have existing server-bound software licenses that need to be deployed on physical server and you have to address corporate compliance and regulatory requirements.

Dedicated Hosts Pricing

The price for Dedicated Hosts vary based on the instance family, region, and payment option that you choose. However, you pay only hourly for each active Dedicated Host, regardless of the quantity or the size of instances that you choose to launch on a particular Dedicated Host.  You are not billed for the usage of your instances!

You must choose and instance type configuration for the host, when you allocate a Dedicated Host. This selection defines the number of sockets and physical cores per host, the type of instance and the number of instances you can run on each host. A Dedicated Host can support only one instance type at a time.

There are two pricing models for Dedicated Hosts: On-Demand Pricing and Reservation Pricing.

On-Demand Dedicated Hosts Pricing

In the on-demand pricing model for Dedicated Hosts, you pay for each hour that the Dedicated Host is active or allocated in your account. When you release the on-demand Dedicated Host, you also terminate the billing.

On-Demand gives you the flexibility to scale up or down without long-term commitments.

Reservation Dedicated Hosts Pricing

Just like the AWS EC2 Reserved Instances, the AWS EC2 Dedicated Hosts reservations also provide up to a 70% discount compared to the on-demand price.  

There are three payment options for you to choose when you purchase Reserved Dedicated Hosts.  

  • All Upfront —you pay for the entire Dedicated Host Reservation with one upfront payment. This option provides you with the largest discount compared to On-Demand pricing.
  • Partial Upfront —you make a low upfront payment and are then charged a discounted hourly rate for the Dedicated Host for the duration of the reservation.
  • No Upfront —you do not need to make an upfront payment and you get a discounted hourly rate for the duration of the term.

For complete AWS EC2 Dedicated Hosts pricing, visit the AWS EC2 Dedicated Hosts Pricing page.

Cost Estimation with AWS EC2 Instances

  1. So, you have got an idea of the various AWS EC2 instances and their pricing. What next? How would you estimate the costs for the desired instance type?

As an AWS EC2 user or one who is going to use AWS EC2, you are well aware the fact that AWS EC2 facilitates complete control of your computing resources.  “AWS EC2 changes the economics of computing by charging you only for capacity that you actually use” as stated in an Amazon Web Services pricing guide.

According to the latest AWS pricing guide, consider the following points when you estimate the cost of your AWS EC2 requirements:

  • Clock Hours of Server Time – Resource charges are applied when they are running. For example, from the time AWS EC2 instances are launched until they are terminated.
  • Machine Configuration – The physical capacity of the Amazon EC2 instance you choose along with the AWS region, OS, number of cores, and memory.
  • Machine Purchase Type –On-Demand instances, Reserved Instances, Spot Instances, or Dedicated Hosts.
  • Number of Instances – Based on the number of instances that you want to provision to handle peak loads. You can have multiple instances of your AWS EC2 and Amazon EBS resources.
  • Load Balancing –Use an Elastic Load Balancer to distribute traffic among AWS EC2 instances. Calculate the number of hours the Elastic Load Balancer runs and the amount of data it processes to the cost.
  • Detailed Monitoring –Use Amazon CloudWatch to monitor your AWS EC2 instances. The default basic monitoring is enabled and available at no additional cost. You can opt for detailed monitoring for a fixed monthly rate. Partial months are charged on an hourly pro rata basis, at a per instance-hour rate.
  • Auto Scaling – Use Auto Scaling to automatically adjust the number of AWS EC2 instances in your deployment according to conditions you define. This service is available at no additional charge beyond Amazon CloudWatch fees.
  • Elastic IP Addresses – You can have one Elastic IP (EIP) address associated with a running instance at no charge.
  • Operating Systems and Software Packages – Operating System prices are included in the instance prices. These commercial operating systems require are no additional licensing costs:
    • Red Hat Enterprise Linux
    • SUSE Enterprise Linux
    • Windows Server
    • Oracle Enterprise Linux

AWS has partnered with Microsoft, IBM, and several other vendors so you can run commercial software packages on your AWS EC2 instances (for example, Microsoft SQL Server on Windows, IBM Software). These costs need to be estimated. Also, for commercial software packages that AWS does not provide, such as nonstandard operating systems, Oracle Applications, Windows Server applications such as Microsoft SharePoint and Microsoft Exchange, you need to obtain a license from the vendors. You can also bring your existing license to the cloud through specific vendor programs such as Microsoft License Mobility through Software Assurance Program.

Save more than 50% on your cloud with smart RI planning.

Make Hay While AWS Drops Prices!

In May 2017, AWS announced significant price reductions on their EC2 instances. “As AWS grows, we continue to find ways to make it an even better value. We work with our suppliers to drive down costs while also finding ways to build hardware and software that is increasingly more efficient and cost-effective”, declares AWS’s chief evangelist in a blog post that announced the 61st price reduction.

AWS reiterates the fact that in addition to reducing the prices, they also give customers options that help them to optimize their use of AWS.

Let’s take a closer look at the May 2017 AWS EC2 price reductions:

  • New No Upfront Payment Option for 3 Year Standard RIsNo Upfront payment option with a 3 year term for C4, M4, R4, I3, P2, X1, and T2 Standard Reserved Instances.
  • Lower Prices for No Upfront Reserved Instances – lower by up to 17% prices for No Upfront 1 Year Standard and 3 Year Convertible Reserved Instances for the C4, M4, R4, I3, P2, X1, and T2 instance types, depending on instance type, operating system, and region.

An indicative chart for the estimated average reductions for No Upfront Reserved Instances for Linux in representative regions:

* US East (Northern Virginia) US West (Oregon) EU (Ireland) Asia Pacific (Tokyo) Asia Pacific (Singapore)
C4 -11% -11% -10% -10% -9%
M4 -16% -16% -16% -16% -17%
R4 -10% -10% -10% -10% -10%

*Source: EC2 Price Reductions – Reserved Instances & M4 Instances AWS Blog

  • Lower Prices for Convertible Reserved Instances –lower by up to 21% prices for 3 Year Convertible Reserved Instances for the C4, M4, R4, I3, P2, X1, and T2 instances.

Convertible Reserved Instances allow you to change the instance family and other parameters associated with the RI at any time; this allows you to adjust your RI inventory as your application evolves and your needs change.

An indicative chart for the estimated average reductions for Convertible Reserved Instances for Linux in representative regions:

* US East (Northern Virginia) US West (Oregon) EU (Ireland) Asia Pacific (Tokyo) Asia Pacific (Singapore)
C4 -13% -13% -5% -5% -11%
M4 -19% -19% -17% -15% -21%
R4 -15% -15% -15% -15% -15%

*Source: EC2 Price Reductions – Reserved Instances & M4 Instances AWS Blog

  • Lower Prices for M4 Instances –lower by up to 7% prices for M4 Linux instances.

As an AWS customer, you can use multiple strategies to purchase and manage your Reserved Instances. You may prefer to make an upfront payment and earn a bigger discount; or prefer to pay nothing upfront and get a smaller, but still substantial, discount. Else, make a partial upfront payment and a discount that falls in between the two other options.

All changes in prices and the reductions are already effective. So, why wait? Make the most of it…Now!

How to Further Save Costs?

Coming back to the actual business, the major driving factors of the cost of your AWS EC2 compute infrastructure should be the needs of your applications and how you intend to use the resources for optimal results. You no longer need to but the cutting edge physical hardware to provide computing. Instead, you are now using the flexible of benefit of cloud computing by spinning AWS EC2 instances whenever you need those. Your computing infrastructure sizes to be a physical datacenter!

However, even on the cloud, without proper cost analysis, cost implementation, usage management, and resource optimization, you are running the risk of bottlenecking performance of your infrastructure both in terms of technical oversights and financial mismanagement. All that can happen due to mismatches in technical requirements and AWS EC2 resourcing.

To avoid all possible bottlenecks and to engage your resources properly, you need to understand the following key parameters:

  • How AWS users use and pay for EC2 instances
  • The different families and sizes of EC2 instances
  • How to identify opportunities to optimize EC2 instances

You can optimize your costs for AWS EC2 instances by purchasing EC2 Reserved Instances or Spot Instances. On-Demand instances are a good option if you run your Amazon EC2 Instances a couple of hours a day or a few days per week; however, if you plan to run your Amazon EC2 Instances more than that, Reserved Instances can save you money…etc…etc…

Sounds tough?

Botmetric Helps to Make the Right Directions

Facts are stated. Directions are set. Now, you must take right decisions on your AWS EC2 resources based on the facts, figures, and directions. Just to recap, you have a gamut of AWS EC2 instances to choose from, a set of cost reduction and optimization guidelines to conform to, and a new set of price reduction from AWS as high level guidance. And you have the Botmetric’s analytical tools and expert analysts to help you out.  

AWS EC2 Reserved Instances — Choosing the Right One that Fits You

AWS EC2 Reserved Instances (RIs), which provide significant discount compared to on-demand pricing, have been extensively used by enterprises and businesses of all sizes across the globe.

In this post, I am going to discuss the types of use cases where AWS EC2 Reserved Instances will fit in for optimal discount, the complete flow of reserving the RIs, preferences behind reserving RIs ( to choose capacity first or discounts first), and much more. Just so that you can choose the right RI that fits your needs.

The Backdrop

Currently, AWS offers its users to buy compute instances in 3 modes: on-demand, reserved instances, and spot instances. Let’s dive into the details of these three instances.

  1. On-demand Instances: With on-demand instances, you pay for compute capacity by the hour with no long-term commitments or upfront payments. You can increase or decrease your compute capacity depending on the demands of your application and only pay the specified hourly rate for the instances you use.
    • Pay-as-you-go, no commitment, pay hourly rate.
    • Suitable for unpredictable workloads, or developed or testing in EC2 newly.
  2. Reserved Instances: RIs provide you with a significant discount (up to 75%) compared to on-demand instance pricing. In addition, when reserved instances are assigned to a specific Availability Zone, they provide a capacity reservation thereby giving you additional confidence while launching instances when you need them.
    • Significant discount, 1 year or 3 year commitment.
    • Ideal for predictable and steady usage.
  3. Spot Instances: AWS allows you to bid on spare Amazon EC2 computing capacity. These instances are known as spot instances. Spot instances are often available at a higher discounted rate compared to on-demand pricing. So you can significantly reduce the cost of running your applications, grow your application’s compute capacity and throughput for the same budget. You can bid for Spot instances using AWS API’s, AWS CLI and Web Console. Your Spot instance runs whenever your bid exceeds the current market price.
    • Provide up to 90 % discount.
    • Useful for steady and flexible workloads such as batch processing.

Now, let’s discuss about how to make the most of RIs by understanding the attributes that define RI, offering class, plans of RI, and the factors that affect your savings.

  1. Of all the AWS instances, RIs are the ones which give you massive discounts. The discounts provided will vary from 45%-75% depending on the plan and scope that you choose.
  2. RIs affinity will decide on which account the RI is actually applied.
  3. RI can provide optional capacity reservation.
    1. Reservation will be applied only in the account that purchased the RI.
    2. If you are planning to purchase capacity reservation, ensure you purchase it in the account where you are going to use it. Because while applying the RI discounts, owner account is always given the priority.
  4. AWS assigns reserved instance hours to linked accounts. It always starts first with the linked account that purchased the reservation, which is sometimes called Reserved Instance affinity. If there are hours from the capacity reservation left over, they are applied to other accounts operating identical usage types in the same Availability Zone. Again, this allocation always occurs using unblended rates.

Payment Options for AWS RI

To purchase RIs, AWS offers three payment options, namely All Upfront, Partial Upfront, No Upfront.

  • All Upfront: Pay full amount for the reservation term in one single payment. This one gives the highest savings.
  • Partial Upfront: Pay portion of amount for part of the reservation term in an upfront payment and pay the remaining in installments every month for the duration of the term. This option costs more than All Upfront, but less than No Upfront.
  • No Upfront: Pay for the reservation in installments throughout the term’s duration every month. This payment offers the lowest savings rate.

Apart from the discount you get individually from the above plans, if you have total active RI list value above $5,000,000 per region, you get more discount, from 5% to  10%. This discount is known as RI Volume Discount.

Note: It is highly recommended to purchase the RIs in bulk together in a single transaction. The reasons being: you can merge the RIs if reservation going to be unused due to the changing requirements over the time.

AWS RI Offering Classes

AWS offers the RIs in three modes, i.e Standard, Convertible, and Scheduled, where each have advantages and disadvantages of their own.

Standard RIs: These provide the most significant discount (up to 75% off on-demand) and are best suited for steady-state usage as shown in the below pic. If the load and infra per instance is properly estimated by load testing, and is not going to change frequently for at least an year, these RIs are recommended.

Botmeric, AWS EC2 Consistent Usage GraphImage source: Botmeric, AWS EC2 Consistent Usage Graph

This mode of RI will give maximum discount over other modes.

Convertible RIs: These provide a discount of up to 45% over on-demand instances, and the capability to change the attributes of the RIs as long as the exchange results in the creation of Reserved Instances are of equal or greater value.

Like Standard RIs, Convertible RIs are also best suited for steady-state usage. These provide good discount but less than the standard RIs, average of 45% discount. With this offering class, you can change every attribute of RI. No limits to exchange size. You can purchase the convertible RIs only with 3 year term plan. You can check if RI is convertible or not by verifying the “Offering Class” in the AWS console.

Plus, with convertible RIs, you can exchange the RIs across the family. For example: from t2 to m4, with different OS, Windows to Linux, to new instance size. medium to large, and more.

P.S: While exchanging the convertible RIs, you may need to either exchange it with instance type/size smaller than the current one, or vice versa.

Refer the below two use cases:

Exchanging the instance with lower cost: In this scenario, you will get additional instances, which are either unused or applied to other instance types. For example, say that you are running m4.4xlarge instance in us-east-1a, as per your new requirement, if you are exchanging it with t2.large instance in us-east-1a (as t2 family instances are cheaper than m4), you will get 5 t2.large instances for exchanging 1 m4.4xlarge instance.

Exchanging instance with higher cost: While exchanging the instance with higher cost than the current one, you may need to pay true up charge, which will be reflected in your current month bill.Below is the formula used for calculating the true up charge of an RI.

True up charge = new convertible RI you receive by exchange  —  prorated upfront charges of current instance.

For example: say that you have an t2.micro instance in 3 year term plan partial upfront with 32 months remaining. Now, if you go for exchanging that instance with t2.small instance, then

The total upfront price of your new reservation t2.small is : $133.792,

Remaining upfront value of your exchanged reservations : $109.25,

True Upcharge = 133.792–109.25 = 24.54 with hourly rate of $0.006.

You can exchange with convertible RI only if the following conditions are met.

  1. Active
  2. Not pending another exchange request
  3. Terminating in the same hour (but not minutes or seconds)

Limitations of Convertible RIs

There are few limitations to take into account while dealing with Convertible RIs:

  1. Convertible RIs can only be exchanged for other Convertible Reserved Instances currently offered by AWS.
  2. Convertible RIs cannot be modified. You can only exchange it with other configuration.
  3. Convertible RIs can only be exchanged with the same or higher payment option. For example Partial Upfront Convertible Reserved Instances can be exchanged for All Upfront Convertible Reserved Instances   but they cannot be exchanged for No Upfront Convertible Reserved Instances.

Scheduled RIs: These are available for discounts within the time windows you reserve. This option allows you to match your reservation to a predictable recurring schedule that only requires a fraction of a day, a week, or a month. These are recommended heavily when you have predictable spike for a duration or for running the batch jobs. For example, this reservation is recommended when your system generates reports at 2:00PM every day and emails to all your product users.

Note: You can purchase the RIs in this mode using AWS CLI, API’s, AWS management console.

Scope of RIs — Zonal RI & Regional RI

Zonal RIs: Any RI purchased for specific availability zone is called as zonal RI. In this scope of RI, instance capacity reserved for your use in that AZ gives better confidence while launching instances. If you want to run an instance in AZ and if AWS has reached the capacity of instance type you need, then you will not be able to launch the instance due to hardware limitation in that AZ.

With Zonal RIs, irrespective of instance being used or not, the instance capacity is assigned to you. Capacity reservation are available within that account. The attributes that decide the RIs discount are Instance Type, Tenancy (Shared/Dedicated), Availability Zone, Operating System. These RIs will be applied to the instances running with same instance type and OS in the AZ RI purchased. This is highly recommended when you are reserving the higher instances types on AWS, as they are limited.

Regional RIs: This scope is recommended if you prefer the discount over the capacity since region scope does not offer capacity reservation. But regional RIs give flexibility over managing the RIs as if it has broader applicability and flexibility. These RIs are recommended for maximum discounts. Note that based on your requirement, you can always modify the scope of RIs with no extra cost.

Instance Size Flexibility

All regional Linux/UNIX RIs with shared tenancy apply to all sizes of instances within an instance family and AWS region (even if you are using them across multiple linked accounts). This will help further in reducing the AWS costs. In this RIs are applied based on scale known as normalization factor within a particular instance family. Below is the normalization factor table for instance sizes.

AWS Instance Size Flexibility

Let’s say you already own an RI for a m4.16x large. This RI now applies to any usage of a Linux/UNIX C4 instance with shared tenancy in the region.

This could be applied on either:

  • Four m4.4xlarge instance
  • Eight m4.2xlarge instances
  • Sixteen m4.xlarge instances
  • Thirty two m4.large instances.

Or any combination of above instances for above family that matches to the total normalization factor.

Limitations of instance size flexibility:

  • This is not applied on Zonal RIs.
  • This is not applied on Windows, RHEL.

Rate will be applied completely if proper match is found, else it will be partially applied for the units.

How RIs are Applied?

  1. Zonal RIs are always applied first.
  2. Regional RIs are applied next.
  3. The instance size flexibility. Applied by the first qualified instance based on the instance.

Save more than 50% on your cloud with smart RI planning.

Understanding the Application of Reserved Instances

The following scenarios cover the ways in which Reserved Instances are applied.

Scenario One

A customer is running the following On-Demand Instances in account A:

4 x m3.large Linux, default tenancy instances in Availability Zone us-east-1a

2 x m4.xlarge Amazon Linux, default tenancy instances in Availability Zone us-east-1b

1 x c4.xlarge Amazon Linux, default tenancy instances in Availability Zone us-east-1c

The customer then purchases the following Reserved Instances in account A:

4 x m3.large Linux, default tenancy Reserved Instances in Availability Zone us-east-1a (capacity is reserved)

4 x m4.large Amazon Linux, default tenancy Reserved Instances in us-east-1

1 x c4.large Amazon Linux, default tenancy Reserved Instances in us-east-1

The Reserved Instance benefits are applied in the following ways:

  • The discount and capacity reservation of the four m3.large Reserved Instances is used by the four m3.large instances because the attributes (instance size, region, platform, tenancy) between them match.
  • The m4.large Reserved Instances provide Availability Zone and instance size flexibility, because they are Amazon Linux Reserved Instances with default tenancy.
  • An m4.large is equivalent to 4 normalized units/hour.
  • The customer has purchased four m4.large reserved instances, and in total they are equal to 16 normalized units/hour (4×4). Account A has two m4.xlarge instances running, which is equivalent to 16 normalized units/hour (2×8). In this case, the four m4.large Reserved Instances provide the billing benefit to an entire hour of usage of the two m4.xlarge instances.
  • The c4.large Reserved Instance in us-east-1 provides Availability Zone and instance size flexibility, because it is an Amazon Linux Reserved Instance with default tenancy, and applies to the c4.xlarge instance. A c4.large instance is equivalent to 4 normalized units/hour and a c4.xlarge is equivalent to 8 normalized units/hour.

In this case, the c4.large Reserved Instance provides partial benefit to c4.xlarge usage. This is because the c4.large Reserved Instance is equivalent to 4 normalized units/hour of usage, but the c4.xlarge instance corresponds with 8 normalized units/hour. Therefore, the c4.large Reserved Instance billing discount applies to 50% of c4.xlarge usage. The remaining c4.xlarge usage is charged at the on-demand rate.

It is interesting to note that regional Linux/Unix Reserved Instances apply to any usage matching the region, tenancy, and platform within the instance family. Reserved Instances are first applied to usage within the purchasing account, followed by qualifying usage in any other account in the payer account. In the case of Reserved Instances that offer size flexibility, there is no preference to the instance size within a family that the Reserved Instances apply. The Reserved Instance discount is applied to qualifying usage that is detected first within payer account. The following example may help explain this.

Scenario Two

A customer is running the following On-Demand Instances in account A:

  • 2 x m4.xlarge Linux, default tenancy instances in Availability Zone us-east-1a
  • 1 x m4.2xlarge Linux, default tenancy instances in Availability Zone us-east-1b
  • 2 x c4.xlarge Linux, default tenancy instances in Availability Zone us-east-1a
  • 1x c4.2xlarge Linux, default tenancy instances in Availability Zone us-east-1b

The customer is running the following On-Demand Instances in account B — a linked account:

2 x m4.xlarge Linux, default tenancy instances in Availability Zone us-east-1a

The customer then purchases the following Reserved Instances in account A:

  • 4 x m4.xlarge Linux, default tenancy Reserved Instances in us-east-1
  • 2 x c4.xlarge Linux, default tenancy Reserved Instances in us-east-1

The Reserved Instance benefits are applied in the following way:

  • The discount of the four m4.xlarge Reserved Instances is used by the two m4.xlarge instances in account A and the m4.2xlarge instance in account A. All three instances match the attributes (instance family, region, platform, tenancy). There is no capacity reservation.
  • The discount of the two c4.xlarge Reserved Instances can apply to either the two c4.xlarge instances or the c4.2xlarge instance, all of which match the attributes (instance family, region, platform, tenancy), depending on which usage is detected first by the billing system. There is no preference given to a particular instance size. There is no capacity reservation.

In general, RIs that are owned by an account are applied first to usage in that account. However, if there are qualifying, unused zonal Reserved Instances in other accounts in the payer account, they are applied to the account before regional Reserved Instances owned by the account. This is done to ensure maximum Reserved Instance utilization and a lower bill. For billing purposes, all the accounts in the organization are treated as one account. The following example may help explain this.

Scenario Three

The customer is running the following instance in account A

1 x m4.xlarge Linux, default tenancy instances in Availability Zone us-east-1a

The customer is running the following instance in another linked account B:

1 x m4.xlarge Linux, default tenancy instances in Availability Zone us-east-1b

The customer then purchases the following Reserved Instances in account A:

1 x m4.xlarge Linux, default tenancy Reserved Instance in Availability Zone us-east-1

The customer also purchases the following Reserved Instances in account C:

1 x m4.xlarge Linux, default tenancy Reserved Instances in Availability Zone us-east-1a

The Reserved Instance benefits are applied in the following way:

  • The discount of the m4.xlarge Reserved Instance owned by account C is applied to the m4.xlarge usage in account A.
  • The discount of the m4.xlarge Reserved Instance owned by account A is applied to the m4.xlarge usage in account B.
  • If the Reserved Instance owned by account A was first applied to the usage in account A, the Reserved Instance owned by account C remains unused and usage in account B will be charged at On-Demand rates.

Summary:

Here’re the key highlights summerizing the key aspects of AWS EC2 RIs:

  • Standard RIs offer you more discounts over any Convertible RIs.
  • Zonal RIs offer capacity reservation, recommended for larger instance types and if capacity is preferred over discounts.
  • Regional RIs give more flexibility in managing the RIs.
  • Convertible RIs give you wide range of options while exchanging but offers you lesser discounts compared to Standard RIs.
  • Instance size flexibility give you further discounts for Linux/Unix instances for regional RIs and shared tenancy.

Though AWS RIs give you the maximum savings in your cloud cost, if not managed properly, they might lead to unused cost. Planning and managing AWS RIs is tedious task. Analyze & forecast your usage properly before you purchase. After purchasing RIs, you must monitor the usage regularly if the discounts are applied or not.

For better understanding and analysis of RIs, you can take a look at Botmetric’s Cost and Governance RI. It provides wide range of analysis for RI Utilization, unused RI, planning RI based on the metrics like CPU, IO and number of days instance running. It has free 14 day trial.

Editorial Note: This blog post was first published on Medium. To see the original post, click here.

Today's CFO's Guide to Perfected Cloud Cost Management

Now’s the time to make sure that you have control over your business cloud cost accounting as well as cloud cost management. If you tackle the matter early, it won’t be very difficult. But if you let it sit for too long you could be facing insurmountable technical debt. Moreover, cloud computing has been a growing phenomenon, and now 85 percent of businesses are using cloud technology, up from 82 percent in 2016.

Because cloud computing has been quickly evolving and is a fairly broad concept for enterprises, it’s important to choose the right type of cloud platform for the appropriate business workload and enterprise application needs. As a CFO, your decisions impact all aspects of your business including the ROI. Therefore, you should be ready to manage cloud costs effectively while bringing the IT agility for your business to drive up the innovation. This article serves as a guide to perfected cloud cost management and will cover certain concepts, challenges, and keys to cloud management.

New Digital Era, But Same Problems

It’s a well-known fact that businesses must constantly improve and innovate to stay competitive. In many ways the cloud has transformed business culture, ranging from increased speed, IT agility, business disaster recovery to creating mobile workforces. The cloud is a cost-saving and time-saving technology, enabling enterprise applications and data to be more easily shared, which in turn allows more efficient allocation of resources.

Additionally, the cloud has spurred new innovations by lowering the cost of starting a business or experimenting on new ideas within large enterprises. Cloud technologies allow independent businesses to share their collective infrastructure to reduce the cost and difficulty of small business partnerships.

Even with the benefits such as the ones mentioned, there are challenges and concerns of having company functions in the cloud. These challenges include:

  • Cloud Security
  • Business IT Integration
  • Cloud ROI –  Longterm Cost Management

When it comes to CCM and IT, the underlying problem with cloud management is that IT ends up having to give up control as different business and technical teams can directly consume and use the cloud infrastructure. In an enterprise company environment where the cloud has been adopted, developers/engineers have the ability to provision resources on a self-service basis to bring agility, rather than IT enforcing policies by carefully reviewing developers’ provision requests, as would be the case in a cloud-free environment.

In an environment where anyone can provision and consume Cloud infrastructure, it’s important to ensure that your organization has governance control over its cloud costs requires your ability to identify all of the organization’s cloud resources. This can be quite challenging if the company has commissioned resources in multiple clouds or accounts. You must also have the ability to map cloud resources to specific owners, teams and business group purposes, which allows the finance department to break down the company’s bill by business unit or department to understand who is using what?

Enterprise Cloud Cost Management (CCM) Challenges

In continuance with discussion of business challenges and governance concerns, there are two significant cloud cost management challenges we’ll also look at:

  • Predicting cloud spending, internal chargebacks and allocating budgets accordingly
  • Lack of financial transparency due to scattered usage

Enterprise Cloud costs are hard to predict and hard to understand, creating the need for CCM tooling and application to help business users with visibility and full control for governance. With traditional infrastructure capacity you have a pre-determined price that’s independent of actual usage, but with cloud technology you have a pay-per-use model that entails extensive variation on a day-to-day basis.  The variance in the spend due to OPEX model is a evolving challenge for most enterprise CFO teams.

As enterprises use different types of clouds, things get more complicated. This prompts the CFO’s need for summed up information about the costs. Based on location, clouds can be classified into the following types:

  • Private
  • Public
  • Hybrid
  • Community cloud

Based on the service offered, clouds can be classified in the following manner:

  • SaaS (Software-as-a-Service)
  • IaaS (Infrastructure-as-a-Service)
  • PaaS (Platform-as-a-Service)
  • or, Database, Information, Storage, Security, Integration, Application, Process, Testing, Management-as-a-Service

There are security risks with data in the cloud, just like the potential risks in data centers. Many Internet users are oblivious to the fact that ransomware can easily seize control over files stored on the cloud if there is a centralised compromise around access keys or root cloud accounts. The best defense against this threat is a good set of security protections, following cloud vendor best practices and critical business data backups that are made daily. It is preferred that these backups are made to a device that is not always connected to the network or isolated into another cloud account with lock-down access.

Cloud Cost Analytics and Spend Visualization: The Key to Optimization

As mentioned previously, cloud computing has many benefits for businesses. Some more major benefits include:

  • Capital cost reduction (no need to buy hardware, data center space, cooling and power)
  • Faster deployment of infrastructure and business applications
  • Can be used as a test bed for the development and testing of application prototypes
  • Reducing/eliminating operational costs through cloud automation

While many advantages are offered, cloud computing is not a panacea for all IT challenges faced by modern enterprise businesses. It’s critical that you know who is using the cloud, how much, and for what business purposes within your organisation through automated governance provisions. Lack of awareness in these areas leads to losing money instead of improved ROI that could be used for other projects within your company.

An effective Cloud Cost Management is a matter of what, where, how, why and managing it can be more effective when you use the following important tips:

  • Understand the cost structure. Some general cost model classifications are user licensing, all inclusive, and resource by the hour.
  • Use cloud tagging to spot cloud resources by teams, business groups.
  • Get a complete picture of current use and costs through effective tagging for chargebacks
  • Reduce sprawl and cut costs by practicing cloud resource management.
  • Enterprise level visibility and automated governance for ROI

Concluding Thoughts

The cloud can bring many advantages to your business. With that being said, a CFO needs a clear understanding of the cloud and how to get the most out of it so money and resources aren’t wasted. You must choose the right type of governance controls for your cloud and implement the effective management measures to make sure everything runs efficiently for your business while taking advantage of cloud benefits as a company.

What’s your take. Do give us a shout out.

May Roundup @ Botmetric: Deeper AWS Cost Analysis and Continuous Security

Cost modelling, budget reduction and cost optimization are some of the top most considerations for businesses irrespective of size. Whether it is an enterprise with 100+ foot print or a small start-up with less than 10 employees, cost reduction is always a great news. This month, we had two awesome news by AWS in regards to cost reduction — 61st Price Reduction slashing the rates of EC2 RIs & M4 Prices and releasing better Cost Allocation for EBS snapshots, and a key Botmetric Security & Compliance product roll-out on CIS Compliance. So in the month of May, focus was on AWS cloud cost analysis and continuous security.

Like every month, here we are presenting May month-in-review, covering all the key activities around Botmetric and AWS cloud.

Product News You Must Know @ Botmetric

Botmetric continues to build more competencies on its platform. Here’re the May month updates:

CIS Compliance for Your AWS

What is about: Auditing your infrastructure as per AWS CIS Benchmark policies to ensure complete CIS compliance of your AWS infra, without you going through complex process or studying docs.

How it will help: It will help AWS users, AWS auditor, AWS system integrator, AWS partner, or a AWS consultant to imbibe CIS AWS Framework best practices. This ensures CIS compliance for your AWS cloud.

Where can you find this feature on Botmetric: Under Security & Compliance’ Security Audit & Remediation console.

To know more in detail, read the blog ‘Embrace Continuous Security and Ensure CIS Compliance for Your AWS, Always.’

Cost Allocation for AWS EBS Snapshots

What is about: AWS has been evolving the custom tagging support for most of the services like EC2, RDS, ELB, BeanStalk, etc. And now it has introduced Cost Allocation for EBS snapshots. Botmetric, quickly acting on this new AWS announcement, incorporated this cost allocation and cost analysis for EBS snapshots.

How it will help: It will allow you to use Cost Allocation Tags for your EBS snapshots so that you can assign costs to your customers, applications, teams, departments, or billing codes at the level of individual resources. With this new feature you can analyze your EBS snapshot costs as well as usage easily.

Where can you find this feature on Botmetric: Under Cost & Governance’s Chargeback console.

To know more in detail, read the blog ‘Cost Allocation for AWS EBS Snapshots Made Easy, Get Deeper AWS Cost Analysis.’

Use of InfluxDB Real-Time Metrics Data Store by Botmetric

What is about: Botmetric’s journey in choosing InfluxDB real-time metrics data store over KairosDB+Cassandra cluster, and key reasons why engineer or an architect looking for a real-time data store featuring a simple operational management should opt for InfluxDB.  

How it helped Botmetric: With the use of InfluxDB, Botmetric could speed-up application development time, while the simple operational management of InfluxDB has been helpful. Plus, team Botmetric was able to easily query data and aggregate it. Above all, InfluxDB offered auto expiry support for certain datasets. Using InfluxDB, Botmetric is able reduce its DevOps effort in cleaning up old data using separate utilities.

Knowledge Sharing @ Botmetric

5 Cloud Security Trends Shaping 2017 and Beyond

While the switch to cloud computing provides many advantages in cost savings and flexibility, security is still a prime consideration for several businesses. It’s vital to consider new cloud technologies in 2017 for countering such rising threats. This guest post by Josh McAllister covered the top cloud security trends that are shaping 2017. Some of them are AI and automation, micro-segmentation, software governance, adopt new security technologies, ransomware and the IoT, and much more. If you are looking to improve your security posture, then this blog post is a must read.  

The Biggest Pet Peeves of Cloud Practitioners and Why You Should Know

Despite adoption, there are a lot of barriers and challenges to a cloud’s adoption and acceleration. So it is for cloud practitioners as well. Botmetric throws some light on it — it could be apprehensions about losing control and visibility over data, having lesser visibility and control over operations compared to on-prem IT infra, fear of bill shock, and more. As a cloud user, do you want to know the top pet peeves of a cloud practitioner and turn them into possibilities or opportunities? Know about these roadblocks here.

A CFO’s Roadmap to AWS Cloud Cost Forecasting and Budgeting

Despite exponential increase in cloud adoption, there is one major fear attached to AWS, for that matter all the cloud’s adoption — how to be on top of cloud sprawl, and how to perfect AWS cost forecasting and budgeting as an enterprise business. To add to it, for today’s CFOs, IT is at the top of their agenda. If  you are a CFO trying to up your game and seeking to build a roadmap for AWS cloud cost modelling, spend forecasting and cloud budgeting, and above all assuage cloud sprawl?  Bookmark this blog.

What is NoOps, Is it Agile Ops?

DevOps is there, but today it is being augmented with NoOps using automation. And by taking a NoOps approach, businesses will be able to focus on clean application development, shorter cycles, and more so increased business agility.

On the other hand, in the journey of DevOps, if you automate mundane Ops tasks, it leads to NoOps. Essentially, NoOps frees-up developers’ time to further utilize their time for more innovation and to bring agility into ops (which is Agile Ops). Do read Botmetric’s take on this.

​Ultimate Comparison of AWS EC2 t2.large vs. m4.large for Media Industry

Two types of AWS EC2 instances, t2.large and m4.large, feature almost similar configuration. With media sites required to handle large number of concurrent visitors at any given time, both these resources seem perfect. This makes it challenging to make a decision on choosing the best resource, in terms of price and performance if you are a media company.  To eliminate this confusion, Botmetric has come up with information break-up of AWS EC2 t2.large vs. m4.large for media companies.  If you are a media company on AWS, this post by Botmetric might interest you.

The Wrap-up

Before we wrap-up this month, we have a freebie to share. Botmetric has always recommended AWS users to use tagging and monitoring as a stepping stone towards ensuring budgeting and cost compliance. To this end, Botmetric has come up with an expert guide that will help save cost on AWS cloud with smart tagging. Download it here.

Until next month, stay tuned with us.

​Ultimate Comparison of AWS EC2 T2.Large Vs. M4.Large for Media Industry

AWS presents a series of large EC2 instances that can be used optimally for various computing needs. Of these, the t2.large and m4.large are two blockbuster instance types that a media company’s resource utilization decision makers must think through and compare before they make a decision. Because, if you look at the comparative matrix, both t2.large and m4.large instances look very similar. That makes it a challenge to decide the best resource, in terms of price and performance.  Here’s a information break-up of AWS EC2 t2.large vs. m4.large for media companies.    

The Backdrop

Typically, media sites handle large number of concurrent visitors at any given time. Visitors spend time on each page, reading, watching videos, or interacting with the content, before they go to another page or leave the site. And when you are running a campaign or a viral content, the site visits manifolds. So, your site needs heavy storage and high bandwidth. A compute instance must satisfy these requirements along with the need to run many applications in one production environment.

As a resource planner, you will tend to look at large AWS EC2 instances. And you are right in doing so. But then, which one to choose amongst the many ‘large’ instances that AWS provides? You have t2.large, m4.large, m3.large, c4.large, c3 large, etc. Which one is better for your media site that optimally provides a balance of compute, memory, and network resources and a platform to run those many applications and utilities? Plus you need to know which is the most optimized and economical instance that caters to all your compute, memory, and network resource needs?

Confused! Do not worry; we have two large instance type champions: t2.large and m4.large, which provide similar capabilities for your requirements. A right-sized and optimized cloud environment is going to give anyone the best savings. So, let’s explore some of the reasons why your engineering team would consider either EC2 instance over the other. Here’s a closer look at both the instances’ specifications:

AWS EC2 t2.large vs. m4.large for media companies

Now let’s take a closer look at both the instances’ pricing comparison(for US East Region), which is a major differentiating factor to make a decision:

Now let’s take a closer look at both the instances’ pricing comparison(for US East Region), which is a major differentiating factor to make a decision:

From the above compare matrix, we can see that both t2.large and m4.large instances feature dual-core vCPUs, with the t2 sporting high-frequency Intel Xeon processors with turbo modes up to 3.3GHz. The m4.large features 2.4GHz Intel Xeon Haswell CPU, which AWS markets as being “optimized for EC2.” While the t2.large features burstable compute, the m4.large has a cap of 6.5 units.

Both the instances feature the same amount of memory and both require the provisioning of AWS EBS volumes. As far as cost management goes, users should be ready to also account for the spending on EBS when using either the t2.large or the m4.large. If storage access speed is a big deal, it is very significant to note that the m4.large features EBS optimization.

The Catch

As media sites require heavy storage and high bandwidth, m4.large are a better fit. Because, m4.large has a dedicated EBS bandwidth of 450 Mbps.

In brief, m4.large instances are the latest generation of General Purpose Instances from AWS EC2. They provide a balance of compute, memory, and network resources, and it is a good choice for many applications. Like the AWS EC2 site states, the m4 family is “great for many web server applications and other general uses. Plus, it’s EBS-optimized offering comes by default, at no additional cost.

Here’re some useful scenarios of m4 instances in general and m4.large in particular:

  • Small and mid-size databases
  • Data processing tasks that require additional memory
  • Caching fleets
  • Running backend servers for SAP, Microsoft SharePoint, cluster computing, and other enterprise applications.

The Bottomline

Now that you have understanding of the capabilities of t2.large and m4.large instances and the price comparison, the next step would be to firm the decision. Botmetric can help you optimize your instance purchase and usage decisions. To know more about how m4.large is a better option for your requirements, get in touch us.

At Botmetric, we provide intelligent analysis of your requirements, suggest ways and means to optimize instances, and get you going with your instances. No more discussions and researches on which instance to choose and how to maximize the potential of your cloud infrastructure! Talk to our experts and leverage our expertise. support@botmetric.com; and very much social: Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn.