New Release of ParkMyCloud: Updated Dashboard, “Always Parked” and More

Over the long weekend, we pushed out a new release of ParkMyCloud. This new release contains several feature improvements, and sets up the platform for more user-requested features to come. Let’s take a look.

Updated Dashboard

When you next log in – or first log in, if you’re a new user –  you will be greeted by a new dashboard. It has a new look and feel, with actions on the left, info on the right.

The old recommendations bar has been revamped into a Keywords tab, which alarms RED  whenever there are instances recommended to be parked:

newdashboard

Also notice the “Metrics” and “Policies” tabs – coming soon!

“Always Parked” Schedule

You can now create a parking schedule that parks instances 24/7:
alwaysparkedschedule

This is great news for users who prefer a parking approach that capitalizes on the “snooze” function.

In this approach, an organization may choose to set all non-production instances on an “always parked” schedule. When developers come in to work in the morning, they can “snooze” the parking schedule on their instances for the length of the workday, for which time they will run. Then, the instances will turn off at the end of the day, maximizing savings. Several of our customers have had great success with the schedule + snooze formula.

Search Logic

This release also improves the search logic functionality.  You can now use negation logic in both the dashboard filtering and in the recommendations keywords.  Just put a “-“ in front of a search term, and everything not including that term will show up:

negationlogic

Schedule Removal Behavior

We have also changed the behavior for schedule removal. When a schedule is removed, the instance will no longer automatically start. Now it will remain in the state it was in when the schedule was removed.

 

As always, we welcome your feedback on these updates – please comment below.

Mr. Bobvious revels in “appified” cloud management tools

Enterprise-appsAs a seasoned IT Ops professional, Mr. Bobvious spends his weekdays—and sadly, some of his weekends—going back and forth between his iPhone and his desktop management tools. Get text on iPhone from marketing director about web site load times. Go to desktop web site performance analytics software. Back to iPhone to read email from CIO about MTTR. Then back to desktop to look at logs.

After enough back and forths between mobile to desktop to mobile to desktop, Mr. Bobvious began to resent his desktop. Not his desktop exactly, but the software running on it. “Why,” he asked himself, “can’t software or SaaS tools be as easy and intuitive to use as mobile apps?”

He thought about all of the challenges with traditional, “big” software:

  • It always needs to be customized and integrated, regardless of what the vendor said during the sales process. This takes a lot of internal resources and lengthens the ROI cycle.
  • It always requires training, no matter what the vendor said during the sales process.
  • It is always more complicated to use, no matter what the vendor said during the sales process.
  • It always has more features than we need and not all the features we absolutely need…no matter what the vendor said during the sales process.

“Ugh. This is exactly the problem with most cloud management platforms (CMPs),” Mr. Bobvious thought. “They’re a mile wide and an inch deep. There’s no killer app. And even if there was one great feature, the ROI takes months or years to realize.”

All of this helped Mr. Bobvious really appreciate ParkMyCloud, the automated EC2 start/stop scheduler he subscribed to last year. Dead simple to start up and use, no integration, gorgeous UI. And the speed and ease of implementation drops the payback period from months or years to literally days.

You Snooze You Win: How ParkMyCloud Users Got Creative to Maximize AWS Cost Savings

I’m sure that most people have heard of the Law of Unintended Consequences.

How often have we seen some new technology or gadget with promise be used for more nefarious purposes?

For example, I am convinced that when Ernest Holmes invented the tow truck back in 1916, he had a higher purpose in mind than using them to shake down citizens for parking revenues, to fill municipal coffers.

Indeed, the Law of Unintended Consequences is always in the back of the minds of scientists, engineers, inventors and entrepreneurs as they bring new inventions and products to market. Will these products take on an unintended life of their own? Will they be used for good or for evil purposes?

Occasionally, though, something good is invented and users stumble upon an even better way of putting it to use, in a way the inventor never dreamed of.

Our Intention: Snooze for an Hour

A few months ago we released simple capability within ParkMyCloud called “Snoozing”.

First some context: When you attach a parking schedule to an AWS instance, that schedule will enforce itself and maintain the desired instance state. When the schedule says an instance is supposed to be turned off, it will be off. When it is supposed to be on, it will be turned on.

snooze when you need your instances to maximize aws cost savingsThat’s great for saving money on AWS instances that don’t need to be running 24×7, however, it can be problematic when a developer needs to come in on the weekend to get some work done and everything is turned off. Or they need to continue to work late on a weeknight, but a schedule is in place that shuts down development environments by 6 pm.

These common scenarios led several of our customers to ask us for a “snooze button” – the ability to suspend schedule action for a set period of time. So, we obliged. In fact, we integrated that ability with on/off toggles, so that a developer can select a parked instance and hit the toggle button to turn it on. The system will prompt him/her, asking how long they want to suspend the schedule. It then snoozes the schedule for that period of time for the instance(s).

The Unintended Consequence: Sleep Until Waking

dashboard15kSince we released the Start/Stop/Snooze functionality back in January of this year, a couple of our customers have taken the concept of saving money by parking instances and turned it on its ear.

They have taken the interesting approach of turning ALL of their non-production environments to be STOPPED by default, using a single parking schedule. They then require their development teams to snooze the schedule for the instances they will be using for the amount of time they will be working.

Using this approach, these users have not only maximized their monthly AWS cost savings, but they redeemed the time by avoiding the need to hammer out a set of parking schedules that suited everyone.

Bravo to them, on this innovative, out-of-the-box thinking!

 

 

 

 

Mr. Bobvious Reads Gartner’s CMP Report and Wonders, “Do I Really Need a Cloud Management Platform for Cost Optimization?”

As the IT Ops guy responsible for his company’s approximately 4,000 AWS instances, Mr. Bobvious was eager to read the report from Gartner Research titled, “Market Guide for Cloud Management Platforms: Large, Emerging and Open-Source Software Vendors.”

He settled in with his morning cup of Folgers drip and opened the PDF, wondering if he’d see ParkMyCloud on the list of cloud management platform vendors. Mr. Bobvious scrolled down the list of CMP write-ups:

  1. gartner cloud management platform guide april 2016Avni
  2. BMC
  3. CloudBolt Software
  4. DivvyCloud
  5. Embotics
  6. GigaSpaces Technologies
  7. Hewlett Packard Enterprise
  8. IBM
  9. Red Hat (ManageIQ)
  10. RightScale
  11. Scalr
  12. VMware

Mr. Bobvious checked again between numbers 8 and 9 to make sure he hadn’t missed ParkMyCloud. Nope. Not there.  He then went back and read the report.  “OK,” he said to himself. “I get it.”

What did Mr. Bobvious “get”? That ParkMyCloud is not a cloud management platform, which Gartner defines thusly:

A cloud management platform (CMP) provides three major tiers of service that sit architecturally above the virtualization and cloud-enabled hardware layer.

“ParkMyCloud doesn’t try to solve a lot of cloud management problems,” thought Mr. Bobvious. “They just solve one problem very well: cost optimization. Most companies leave AWS EC2 instances running even when they don’t need them, and then end up writing their own homegrown solutions. So they waste a lot of money and time every month paying for and managing idle instances.”

“I don’t need or want a cloud management platform to do that,” said Mr. Bobvious to himself. “A CMP has a zillion features I don’t need and requires a lot of overhead to onboard, integrate and run.  Even if I were willing to risk the investment, I’m not convinced we’d reduce cloud spending which is the problem I had in the first place. And above all, how much savings would it take to recoup the high cost of the acquiring and maintaining the software?”

So while Mr. Bobvious concluded that ParkMyCloud shouldn’t be compared to cloud management platforms, he smiled when he read one of Gartner’s concluding statements.

However, whether CMPs will ultimately “win” versus other alternative approaches (such as point cloud management tools…) is an open question we will continue to analyze.

Do You REALLY Need a Cloud Management Platform for Cost Optimization?

Gartner defines cloud management platforms as “integrated products that provide for the management of public, private and hybrid cloud environments. The minimum requirements to be included in this category are products that incorporate self-service interfaces, provision system images, enable metering and billing, and provide for some degree of workload optimization through established policies.”

Would these features help you save costs? Probably, but they may not be your best choice when looking to optimize costs. As Mr. Bobvious concurred, many platforms overcomplicate cloud management by providing functions most businesses find unnecessary. These additional functions are factored into the cost of the platform, eating into the financial benefits of cloud management and failing to optimize costs.

However, although ParkMyCloud doesn’t try to solve a lot of cloud management problems, it does have some useful functions that cloud administrators can take advantage of to simplify the management of EC2 instances deployed on AWS and Azure and make indirect cost savings in addition to the financial benefits of assigning parking schedules to non-production instances.

For example, ParkMyCloud provides a single dashboard view of all a business´s EC2 instances and Azure VMs. This can help identify unused resources that can be reassigned, placed into a cheaper pricing plan or retired. The ability to assign instances to development teams increases accountability (and often leads to increased productivity), while the reporting functions can help with future project, capacity and budget planning.

So, although ParkMyCloud is not a Cloud Management Platform for cost optimization, and therefore not on Gartner´s list of software vendors, it is a solution for cost optimization with cloud management features – which are, in fact, better positioned to help you achieve rapid ROI and cost optimization than expensive cloud management platforms. Want to find out more? Try ParkMyCloud now for free, or contact us with any questions you have about not using a cloud management platform for cost optimization.

Announcing AWS IAM Role Support for ParkMyCloud

Exciting news! As of today, ParkMyCloud now includes AWS IAM role support as a method to connect to your AWS account, in addition to IAM user credentials.

This secure approach to 3rd party access to AWS has been requested by many of our users and, in fact, is the preferred approach by AWS.

That means that if your organization uses IAM roles, it’s a great day to start your 30-day free trial of ParkMyCloud! Watch the video below to learn how to connect an AWS account to ParkMyCloud using an IAM role:

While IAM roles provide a secure method of key exchange for access into AWS accounts, overall security for the sessions depends heavily upon the policies you put in place. At ParkMyCloud our philosophy has always been to use the “least privilege” approach to security – use the minimum set of permissions required to get the job done, or in this case the role, and no more.

Whether you use IAM roles or IAM user credentials, we recommend a limited set of permissions for the ParkMyCloud application to do its job: ec2:Describe*, ec2:StartInstances, ec2:StopInstances and iam:GetUser. We even provide some example policies, with and without resource tag constraints.

AWS IAM RolesThese types of policies, with the security of IAM roles, provide strong assurance that access to your AWS accounts is limited and secure.

If you’re an existing user, you can also convert existing IAM user credentials into IAM roles, without having to re-discover your environments. This ensures that all your hard work setting up parking schedules and sorting instances to your teams, was not in vain. Read this article to learn how.

For more information, please see the AWS documentation on IAM Roles.

Enjoy!

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June 26th | 2 PM ET