We attended AWS re:Invent last fall (and we’re already looking forward to the 2016 event in December!), but this was ParkMyCloud’s first AWS Summit.
Although the event was substantially smaller than re:Invent, we were pleasantly surprised by the number of people who visited our booth and on the number of meaningful conversations we had with companies across the board, from those just assessing AWS as an option to those with established and growing AWS footprints.
Keynote from Dr. Matt Wood
The event’s keynote was given by Dr. Matt Wood, the General Manager for Product Strategy at AWS. You can watch the entire keynote recording below:
Amazingly, AWS continues to grow quickly at a rate of 70% year-over-year and is now a $10B company. EC2 makes up more than 2/3 of that business, and at last report, was growing at 95% year-over-year.
There were a few announcements of new AWS products in the keynote (full list here).
AWS now uses SSD storage as the default for EBS (Elastic Block Store). SSD is wonderful for small block, random I/O (for example for OLTP databases), but it is not cost-effective for large block sequential workloads, such as video or image processing.
Therefore, AWS announced two new magnetic EBS storage offerings:
A throughput optimized EBS offering (ST1) providing up to 500 MB/sec of sequential performance. It costs $0.045 / GB / month.
There is also a cold storage version (SC1), providing up to 250 MB/sec, but costing only $0.025 / GB / month.
AWS Inspector also became generally available. Inspector is an automated security and vulnerability assessment. It checks the security posture of your application relative to defined best practices.
AWS also announced non-disruptive, automatic platform (OS) updates for Elastic BeanStalk deployments. This will definitely save time on managing BeanStalk implementations.
They leverage “Blue” / “Green” auto scaling groups behind the load balancer to do this non-disruptively. Blue is the current production environment. Green is the version being updated. Once complete, operation is cutover to “Green”.
AWS announced as beta the ability to create managed identity pools for Cognito. I am intrigued by this and how this, with multi-factor authentication (MFA), would compare with something like SAML 2.0 and MFA.
As usual there were some interesting customer talks. I found the one from Duolingo to be quite interesting. They offer 80 different language courses for free, supporting over 18 million users per month, running 6 billion exercises. Their whole environment is managed by 2 DevOps folks!
Not only is it eye-opening to see the innovations that AWS is continuously releasing into their ecosystem, it’s also great to meet and talk with AWS customers face-to-face and talk shop.
I have nothing but the utmost respect for DevOps (development operations) people. They are unsung heroes in my opinion. Living in that precarious place between the developers, IT operations, and the business people, their job is to streamline and stabilize operations related to rollout of new applications and code updates to support the business.
When everything is working well, most people forget they are there. Much like offensive linemen in football, the only time people seem to notice them is on those rare occasions when something goes wrong. It doesn’t seem fair, but such is the life of DevOps.
To achieve near continuous deployment for applications, a high degree of automation is essential from the time new code changes hit the source code repository until they are pushed through test, QA, staging and into production. To accomplish that, DevOps teams require a working knowledge of their applications at a system level, as well as a deep understanding of the IT infrastructure (servers, storage, databases and network), to properly marry the two.
Inherent in this process is constant optimization to streamline the process and keep costs low. They are constantly evaluating build vs. buy for the tools they use in their trade. The preference is to use commercial off-the-shelf products if they are more cost-effective. This frees up their team to focus on keeping the “main thing the main thing”.
/* Begin Shameless Plug */
The whole idea of ParkMyCloud is to help out that part of the DevOps community, who run their environments in Amazon Web Services (AWS).
With ParkMyCloud, you can schedule on/off times for development, testing, QA and staging environments without AWS scripting for as little as $1-$2 per instance per month.
A number of our larger customers have walked away from their own scripted solutions to do this in favor of ParkMyCloud for a few reasons:
It was costing their team more to maintain their AWS scripts
The time spent working on those scripts, was time that could have been spent on mainline business applications (a huge opportunity cost)
Their scripts provided no reporting on cost savings, so that had they no idea whether they were getting a return on their investment. (With ParkMyCloud, the payback is usually within 2-3 months.)
/* End Shameless Plug*/
/* Begin Rant */
So, I told you all of that to air a real pet peeve that I have.
Imagine my surprise when I still talk to potential customers, bent on writing their own AWS scripts to turn instances on & off. It just doesn’t make sense.
When they tell me, “Well, we can do that.” Then my response is, “Does your DevOps team also clean toilets?”
Then they give me this weird look (kind of like the look on your face right now), and respond, “Well, no.”
“Why not?” I ask. “Are they not smart enough to clean toilets?”
“Well of course they are smart enough, but it is not worth their time. We hire a janitorial service to clean our restrooms.”
“So, let me get this straight: You are enlightened enough to realize that cleaning toilets would be a waste of your team’s time, so you hired a janitorial service. Why on earth would you waste your precious DevOps resources to do the moral equivalent of this in IT, by having them waste time writing scripts to schedule on/off times for EC2 instances?”
“They should be spending that time on your main business applications. Leave that to us!”
Increasingly, they get point.
/* End Rant */
In closing, please remember: Friends don’t let DevOps friends waste time on AWS scripting for things not related to application delivery (especially when there are more cost-effective commercial products available to help save time and money). Friends do tell their DevOps friends about ParkMyCloud.
Automated AWS cost optimization tool looks to keep momentum going on heels of enterprise customer wins
Dulles, VA, April 11th, 2016 – ParkMyCloud, a SaaS tool that helps Amazon Web Services (AWS) customers optimize Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) compute resources to maximize the return on their AWS investment, announced today that the company is sponsoring the AWS Chicago Summit on April 18-19, 2016, at the McCormick Place, Lakeside Center in Chicago, IL. Look for ParkMyCloud in booth #330.
Following a number of significant enterprise customer wins, including Sage, Neustar, Avid, Wolters Kluwer, Findly and ZestFinance, ParkMyCloud Co-Founders Jay Chapel (CEO) and Dale Wickizer (CTO) are excited to speak with AWS customers at the event.
“AWS re:Invent 2015 gave ParkMyCloud a huge burst of momentum right out of the gate,” said Chapel. “We not only gained great market traction, we also got tremendous validation and feedback on our initial product – which we’ve already enhanced based on additional customer insights.”
Avid, a global audio and video technology company, is using ParkMyCloud to reduce its annual AWS spending by $55,000, according to Satnam Bains, Avid’s Global Director of Infrastructure Services. “Once our teams understand the AWS charging model of compute by the hour, they recognize the need to park instances and engage,” said Bains. “Costs are attached to every hour. Then, the metaphorical penny drops.”
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.
Our hero, Mr. Bobvious, the IT Ops guy who automatically turns off idle AWS instances using ParkMyCloud, was texting with his teenage son not long ago. Afterwards he realized that the challenge of getting his company’s developers to remember to turn off their AWS instances was the same as…well read on and you’ll see:
Mr. Bobvious: Jake? Are you home?
Mr. Bobvious: What’s sup?
Teen: Not much, howboutchoo?
Mr. Bobvious: No I mean what does sup mean?
Teen: What’s up?
Mr. Bobvious: Can you just give me a straight answer pls?
Teen: sup means what is up
Mr. Bobvious: Oh, sorry. Are you home?
Mr. Bobvious: Just make sure you turn the lights off in your room, the bathroom and the hall before you leave.
Mr. Bobvious: And the kitchen, mudroom and any other room you were in today
Teen: Oh. I’m not home. Sorry.
Mr. Bobvious: Did you turn any lights off before you left?
Mr. Bobvious: How many times do we have to discuss this? Electricity is not free.
Mr. Bobvious: What if I left your iPad on all day and the battery was drained when you got home?
Teen: I’d plug it in. I guess.
Mr. Bobvious: Anyway.
Teen: Dad, I’m just a teen. Teens aren’t wired to turn stuff off.
Mr. Bobvious: You know our software developers leave our computer servers on all night.
Mr. Bobvious: Do you know what my boss would do to me if I let that happen?
Teen: Fire you?
Mr. Bobvious: No, no. He’d just be mad that I’m wasting electricity and money.
Teen: So what’d ya do about the computers?
Mr. Bobvious: I bought software that turns off the computers automatically. We’re saving a fortune.
Mr. Bobvious: Thanks!
Teen: Are you on the way home?
Mr. Bobvious: Why?
Teen: Just thinkin about how good some Chipotle would taste right about now.