October 2016 - ParkMyCloud

Foster Moore Balances Cloud Governance, Cost, and User Freedom with ParkMyCloud

We spoke to Bobby Chan, System Engineer and Melanie Metcalfe, Project Support Manager, at software development company Foster Moore about their AWS use and how they’re managing costs and cloud users with ParkMyCloud.

foster-mooreCan you describe what Foster Moore does? What does your team do within the company?

Foster Moore is an international software development company based in New Zealand which specializes in online registries using our product called “Catalyst”.  We have clients all around the world which requires us to be agile to cater to the different time zones.

Bobby Chan (BC):   I am part of the Operational Services Group (OSG).  We look after the day-to-day running of production systems as well as our internal infrastructure.  My role is a System Engineer, primarily dealing with Release Management.

Melanie Metcalfe (MM):  I run our Project Support Office. We sit within the Finance Division, providing administration and support for all three Foster Moore offices.

Can you describe how you are using the cloud?

BC:  We are currently using AWS for most of our Catalyst product implementations. This is for all environments, from development up to production using a lot of the core functions like EC2, RDS and Route53.

What challenges did you experience in using AWS prior to using ParkMyCloud?

BC:  As the business was rapidly growing, we started to struggle with the escalating costs of the cloud.  On one hand, we were trying to restrict people’s use of AWS for security reasons, but on the other hand we wanted to provide them the freedom of the cloud.

We attempted to have manual on/off schedules for instances, but this proved troublesome with the dispersed team and the human ability to forget.  This also put a lot of pressure on the OSG team, who would be solely responsible for this management.

MM: From both a Project and Finance perspective, AWS invoices have limited usability of supporting data provided.  We needed to be able to attach costs to certain projects and control the associated responsibility for those costs by team or by project.

What drove you to search for a solution?

BC:  Ultimately costs and the ability to manage and control them.  Additionally, we wanted to pass the responsibility of management to the dev/test teams.

How did you hear about ParkMyCloud?

lightbulbBC:  A colleague of ours was tasked with finding a solution to the escalating cost of AWS by the Director of Operational Services. When ParkMyCloud was initially described to our director, who previously worked for utility companies, the analogy of a light switch that the “consumer” could switch on and off was a revelation.  The technological simplicity enabled an easy transition of ownership to Mel’s “cost control police”. Mel took it from there and made it her own. It’s now a business controlled process rather than an IT one, which is as it should be.

MM: I was introduced to ParkMyCloud through a colleague in the OSG.  I could immediately see the benefits is controlling costs and potential for forecasted savings.

Can you describe your experience so far using ParkMyCloud?

BC:  It has been very good.  The tool itself has been simple to use and most of our team here have been able to use it with minimal guidance.  The PMC team have also been very receptive to our requests and comments.

MM: The first thing we did was establish Teams and set up a process for access to all environments that sit within each Team. The Team Lead is ultimately responsible for who has access.  As above we endeavor to have all possible instances on a 24/7 down schedule with team members given full access to override for as long as needed.

What servers are you putting schedules on?

BC:  We have schedules on everything but production.  The idea of that is that since production is never “meant to be down”, we have left them without a schedule.

What benefits has your company realized with ParkMyCloud?

BC: First, as this was a cost exercise, it was cost savings.  We then had the benefits of incorporating all other teams like development and test teams in the responsibility of looking after their own instances.

MM: The savings have been hugely beneficial.  The forecasted savings from scheduling feature is excellent.  The access via teams also provides a better level of ownership and accountability.

What percent are you saving using ParkMyCloud?

MM:  Anywhere from 30-40%, depending on how much time we spend chasing unscheduled instances.

What other cloud cost-savings measures do you have in place?

BC:  While we don’t have any other tools used primarily for cost savings (other than the native AWS tools i.e. Trusted Advisor), we have been going through the exercise of trying to actively reduce the RDS costs for our environments as this is one of our largest costs other than EC2 instances.

Do you use ParkMyCloud for user governance? What other cloud governance measures do you have in place?

BC:  We use the teams function from ParkMyCloud to control access to instances in AWS.  We divvy up the instances based on the clients they service and then assign users accordingly.  We use ParkMyCloud as the primary access point for AWS instances, so we don’t need other measures to lock down the users.

Thank you both, Bobby and Melanie!

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New on ParkMyCloud: Zero-Touch Parking! Automatically Park, Govern, & Save

Today, we’re happy to share with you a new addition to ParkMyCloud: “Zero-Touch Parking”! This policy engine applies start/stop schedules and policies to cloud instances.

Zero-Touch Parking will allow you to “take your hands off the wheel” once you have configured the policies for your environment and let ParkMyCloud apply the parking schedules for automatic cloud cost optimization. Additional functionality from the ParkMyCloud policy engine lets you create security and governance rules, described below. You will save time and save money on cloud costs. It’s easier than ever!

Zero-Touch Parking – Automated Schedule Assignment

parkmycloud's zero-touch parking for cloud cost savings automationThe highlight of this new release is Zero-Touch Parking. This is our most-frequently requested feature, and we’re happy to deliver. Now, ParkMyCloud account administrators will be able to automatically attach or detach schedules to new and existing EC2 instances based on keywords.

For example, let’s say your development instances are all tagged with the keyword “dev”. Let’s also say that these instances need to run during an 8 AM to 6 PM workday, Monday through Friday. You can create a parking schedule that has instances run during those hours, and park outside those hours — let’s call it the “dev schedule”. Now, you can also create a rule that all instances tagged “dev” will automatically be assigned the “dev schedule” upon discovery by ParkMyCloud. No touch needed from that point on!

Policy Engine – Automated Security & Governance Measures

never-park-policyIn addition to automated cost savings with Zero-Touch Parking, ParkMyCloud’s new policy engine increases security and eases governance. Administrators can create rules to automatically assign instances to teams of users, and to protect certain instances, such as mission-critical production environments, from accidentally being turned off by users.

Administrators will be able to assign:

  • Schedules – automatically attach or detach a parking schedule (as described above)
  • Restrictions
    • Snooze only – instances are always parked, users “snooze to use”
    • Never park – instances cannot be parked or toggled, so for example, production instances are never parked
  • Teams –  automatically assign new resources to teams during discovery

Time and Money Savings

With automated policies, you’ll save even more time with ParkMyCloud as you save money. On that note, we recently reached an exciting milestone at ParkMyCloud: our customers have now collectively saved over $1 million on their cloud bills. During the next year, we expect customers to save over $5 million. There’s a long way to go to eliminate what we estimate is $5.6 billion in wasted cloud spend every year, but we’re making a dent – our customers have cut their cloud spend significantly.

We look forward to attacking cloud waste from multiple angles with support for additional cloud providers beyond AWS. We plan to release support for Microsoft Azure at the beginning of January, 2017, with Google Cloud Platform support to follow.

Tweet about Zero-Touch parking and get 1 month of ParkMyCloud free! (Email us to get your free month.)

Then, try out the new Zero-Touch Parking & policy engine for yourself with a free 30-day trial. Happy parking!

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ParkMyCloud Announces “Zero-Touch Parking” for Automated Cloud Cost Optimization

Automation engine from AWS cost optimization leader ParkMyCloud will eliminate wasted cloud spend, making dent in $5.6 billion problem

Sterling, VA, October 24th, 2016 – ParkMyCloud announced that it has released “Zero-Touch Parking” – a first-of-its-kind automation engine that applies start/stop schedules and policies to cloud instances. Zero-Touch Parking is a game-changing addition to ParkMyCloud’s cloud cost optimization platform, as it allows users to “take their hands off the wheel” and let ParkMyCloud apply the parking schedules — automatically.

Up to $5.6 billion is wasted every year on public cloud resources that are not being used during evenings and weekends for development, testing, and staging environments. In its first year, ParkMyCloud’s programmable “light switch” for cloud environments has already saved its customers over $1 million (an average ROI of 1700%). As its reach grows, ParkMyCloud expects this to grow 500% to over $5 million in savings during year 2.

In addition to automated cost savings with Zero-Touch Parking, ParkMyCloud’s new policy engine increases security and eases governance. Administrators can create rules to automatically assign instances to teams of users, and to protect certain instances, such as mission-critical production environments, from accidentally being turned off by users.

“Zero touch parking and the associated policy engine enables ParkMyCloud to take its position as a ‘Nest’ for the cloud cost optimization market using analytics and automation,” said CTO Dale Wickizer. “This new, powerful engine – our most-requested feature – will help our users save a significant amount of time managing their cloud resources.”

Next on the horizon for ParkMyCloud is expansion to support additional cloud providers beyond Amazon Web Services (AWS). ParkMyCloud plans to support Microsoft Azure at the beginning of 2017, with Google Cloud Platform to follow.

About ParkMyCloud

ParkMyCloud is a simple, single-purpose SaaS tool that enables users to automatically schedule on/off times for their idle cloud computing servers (also known as “parking”). Users save up to 60% on cloud server spend by paying only for the time they actually use to avoid wasted spending. Customers include McDonald\\\’s, Sage Software, Neustar, Avid, Wolters Kluwer and Tristar Medical Group. For more information, visit http://www.parkmycloud.com.

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Tag Your Cloud Resources to Get Organized and Get Automated

Patag cloud resourcesrkMyCloud has built a SaaS platform that allows users to turn off AWS EC2 resources in non-production environments during off-hours. We call this “parking”.  

In order for ParkMyCloud to automatically recommend instances to be parked – or to simply automate the parking process altogether – users should have a naming convention for their instances or some type of tag on the resources.

Of course, our application is not the only one which relies on you having some type of tagging strategy for your resources. In fact, I’ll wager that most cloud applications involved in some type of cloud analytics, DevOps automation or cloud management would also be in a better position to help you help yourself if you had a consistent approach to tagging.

Tagging can help you in all sorts of areas, from asset management, to automation, cost allocation and security.

While I was researching ideas for this blog, I came across a great resource on AWS Tagging Strategies, published by AWS in January of this year, which provides a comprehensive overview on the subject. In fact, I couldn’t have said it better.  You can find it here.

One of the excerpts from this blog which caught my eye was the about Tagging Categories:

Organizations that are most effective in their use of tags typically create business-relevant tag groupings to organize their resources along technical, business, and security dimensions. Organizations that use automated processes to manage their infrastructure also include additional, automation-specific tags to aid in their automation efforts.

We take this concept to heart here at ParkMyCloud in our internal systems, by applying tags based on functional group (prod, dev, test, QA, etc.) and resource type. We also recommend this approach to our customers — many of whom do use category tagging to identify resources as “production” or “dev”, “test”, “QA”, and “staging” for example. This makes it very easy for us to identify and automate the process of “parking” instances and quickly save customers money.

In the coming weeks, we will release “Zero-Touch Parking”, which will take maximum advantage of tagging. Here’s how it will work.

Let’s say you have 100 instances, 50 of which are production instances, and therefore should never be parked. If those 50 instances are tagged “production app”, you will simply create a policy that says instances with that tag assigned will get routed to the Production group, it’s blocked from having a schedule assigned to it, and runs 24x7x365.

On the other hand, let’s say we have an instance tagged “test”. We could have a corresponding policy that assigns that instance(s) to the group “Test Team”, applies a “Test” schedule which turns the instance off at 6:00 p.m. every weekday, on at 8:00 a.m. every weekday, and off on weekends.

The strategies outlined in this helpful document are not limited to AWS, but should be applicable to environments in just about any cloud provider.

So, on behalf of other cloud applications, help us to help you — get out there and start tagging, if you haven’t already.

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