9 Key Takeaways from our AWS Webinar on Automated Cost Control

9 Key Takeaways from our AWS Webinar on Automated Cost Control

We recently held our first AWS webinar, featuring speakers from AWS, Sysco, and our CTO Bill Supernor. If you missed “How to Turn AWS Utilization Data into Automated Cost Control,” not to worry! You can watch a replay here.

Here are 9 takeaways from this AWS webinar – and more resources to learn about them:

    • Cost Optimization is one of five key pillars in the AWS Well-Architected Framework, and we’re glad to see AWS prioritizing controlled costs so highly. If you’re not already familiar with the Well-Architected Framework, learn more on the AWS site. The other pillars, by the way, include operational excellence, security, reliability, and performance efficiency. 
    • Choose the right pricing model for your workload needs. Make sure to evaluate whether Reserved Instances are a good choice before committing, and don’t forget about Spot Instances either. 
    • Tagging resources according to cost allocation was emphasized by AWS as important for decision making – and of course it is! You have to be able to categorize your resources to make decisions about them. Here’s more on how to improve cloud automation through tagging.
    • Use AWS CloudWatch – similarly, use your CloudWatch data to optimize your environment. AWS is collecting data about your usage whether you’re looking at it or not – so put it to work!
    • Bagels work – Sysco Foods’ Kurt Brochu shared that he could motivate his team to show up for cost optimization trainings by providing bagels. Sometimes it takes a bit of prodding to get team members not directly responsible for budget to care about cost, so don’t be afraid to get creative. 
    • Use Gamification as a motivator – similarly, by turning cost savings into a race or other competition, you can awake interest that might otherwise be hard to find.
    • There are plenty more AWS webinars – AWS partners frequently hold webinars in conjunction with the cloud provider. One of the best places to learn about them is the @AWS_Partners Twitter channel.

Watch the replay of our AWS webinar for the full story – and let us know in the comments below what else you’d like to learn about in future webinars!

How Big is AWS?

How Big is AWS?

If you’re at all familiar with cloud computing, you know Amazon Web Services is a giant – but just how big is AWS? There are a number of measures of the size of a cloud business like Amazon’s –– here are answers to just a few of those questions.

How big is AWS’s staff?

While numbers for employees of Amazon as a whole are reported in the company’s quarterly earnings reports (630,600 as of Q1 2019), the number of those under AWS is less clear. 

AWS has just over 40,000 employees listed on LinkedIn, but of course, that’s not the most accurate measure. By eyeballing the operating expenses reported for the AWS segment compared to Amazon’s business as a whole, you could estimate up to 62,000, but it’s likely lower than that. As of this writing, AWS has 12,280 full-time job openings listed on their website, while Amazon as a whole has 32,454 openings.

We’ll be interested to see how this is affected by HQ2 joining ParkMyCloud’s neighborhood in Northern Virginia later this year.

How big is AWS’s infrastructure?

AWS has 66 availability zones within 21 geographic regions around the world. Each availability zone consists of one to dozens of individual data centers. To visualize these data centers, check out AWS’s exploration of them here

How big is AWS’s list of products?

When we last counted in April, there were 170 unique services listed on AWS’s offerings page, and there could certainly be more by now. These range from core compute products like EC2 to newer releases like AWS Deepracer for machine learning. Look for a spike in this count after AWS re:Invent in early December, as the cloud provider tends to save up announcements for its yearly user conference. 

Speaking of…

How big is AWS re:Invent?

In 2018, AWS re:Invent pulled 52,000 attendees, and AWS estimates a crowd of 62,000 for 2019, each year taking up a large portion of the Las Vegas Strip.

In comparison, Microsoft Ignite expects 25,000 attendees this year, Google Cloud Next estimated 30,000 attendees, and VMworld estimates 21,000 attendees. Then again, Salesforce’s Dreamforce 2018 drew 170,000 attendees, and Consumer Electronics Show (CES) reports 175,212 attendees for 2019. So while AWS re:Invent may be large for a cloud-specific conference, it’s not quite a giant as far as tech shows go. 

How big is AWS’s market share?

When looking at public cloud, it’s clear AWS still holds the largest portion of the market. A recent report put AWS at 47% of the market, with the next-closest competitor as Azure at 22%. More about AWS vs. Azure vs. Google cloud market share.

How big is AWS’s revenue?

For Q1 2019, AWS reported sales of $7.7 billion, showing consistent growth and the largest of any of the cloud service providers. For the full year of 2018, AWS reported $25.7 billion in revenue – that’s more than McDonald’s. Additionally, AWS has $16 billion or more in backlog revenue from contracts for future services. It is a growing proportion of Amazon’s business. In fact:

How big is AWS as a portion of Amazon?

In first quarter reports, AWS contributed about 50% of Amazon’s overall operating income, with an operating margin of 29%. Overall, AWS is growing as a contributor to Amazon’s income and growth. More here.

So how big is AWS? It’s up to you how you want to measure, but suffice it to say: big.

Azure AKS Overview: Azure’s Managed Kubernetes Service

Azure AKS Overview: Azure’s Managed Kubernetes Service

In today’s entry in our exploration of container services, we’ll look at Azure Kubernetes Service (AKS). Azure AKS manages your hosted Kubernetes environment, making it simple to deploy and manage containerized applications without container orchestration expertise, divesting much of that responsibility to Azure – much like EKS and GKE do for AWS and Google Cloud. Critical tasks like health monitoring of ongoing operations and maintenance by provisioning, upgrading, and scaling resources on demand are handled by Azure.

Azure AKS Overview

Azure AKS is, as of this writing, just over a year old, released for general availability in June 2018. With AKS, you can deploy, scale, and manage Docker containers and applications. Azure AKS gives developers greater flexibility, automation and reduced management overhead for administrators and developers. This is because it’s a managed service, which takes some of the management burden off the user.

As applications grow to span multiple containers deployed across multiple servers, operating them becomes more complex. To manage this complexity, Azure AKS provides an open source API to deploy, scale and manage Docker containers and container-based applications across a cluster of container hosts.

Use cases for AKS include:

  • Easily migrating existing applications to Kubernetes
  • Simplifying the deployment and management of microservices based applications
  • Easily integrated DevSecOps
  • IoT device deployment and management on demand
  • Machine Learning model training with AKS

If AKS is free, what do you pay for?

Yes, Azure AKS is a free service since there is no charge for managing Kubernetes clusters. However, you pay for the VM instances, storage and networking resources consumed by your Kubernetes cluster. These should be managed like any other cloud resources, with attention paid to potential areas of waste.

AKS vs. ACS

Microsoft’s experience with cluster orchestration began with Azure Container Service back in 2017, which supported Kubernetes, Docker Swarm and Mesosphere’s DC/OS. It was the simplest most open and flexible way to run container applications in the cloud then, and now followed by Azure Kubernetes Services (AKS), which was made generally available in 2018.

ACS users who run on Kubernetes can possibly migrate to AKS, but migration should be planned and reviewed for it to be successful as there are many key areas in which they are different. If considering migration, check out Azure’s guide to migrating from ACS to AKS here.

Should you use Azure AKS?

Chances are, you’re locked into a cloud provider – or have a preferred cloud provider – already, so you’re likely to use the container management service offered on your provider of choice. If you’re on Azure, AKS will be the natural choice as you increase use of microservices and app portability with containers.

Further reading:

New GCP Pricing Options: Google Cloud Capacity Reservations and More Committed Use

New GCP Pricing Options: Google Cloud Capacity Reservations and More Committed Use

Google Cloud recently released a new pricing option: Google Cloud capacity reservations. This new option intended for users with anticipated spikes in usage, such as over holidays or planned backups. It also expanded its Committed Use discount program to apply to more types of resources.

Manish Dalwadi, product manager for Compute Engine, said in Google’s announcement of these releases, “you shouldn’t need an advanced degree in finance to get the most out of your cloud investment.”

We’ve noted Google Cloud’s positioning as “best in customer-first pricing” in previous articles on Sustained Use Discounts and Resource-Based Pricing. However, the new options – particularly capacity reservations – may not be the best example of this.

How Google Cloud Capacity Reservations Work

Google Cloud capacity reservations are a bit different from options we see at the other major cloud providers. They are not a cost-savings plan like the AWS and Azure’s “reserved instance” programs that allow users to pay upfront for lower prices. Instead, they actually reserve capacity, to ensure it’s available when you need it. Use cases include holiday/Black Friday demand, planned organic growth, and backup/disaster recovery.

VMs you have reserved in advance will be billed at the same rate as on-demand. However, other discounts may apply. As you consume reserved VMs, you’ll also get the benefit of any applicable Sustained and Committed Use discounts.

One potential issue is that once you make a reservation, you will continue to consume and be charged for the resources until the reservation expires or you delete it. By default, any instance that matches the reservation configuration will be allocated against the reservation. On the one hand, this can prevent you from having to pay for reserved capacity above what you are using, but this may actually defeat your purpose of trying to have additional guaranteed capacity available. To guarantee the extra capacity for a specific instance even if it is stopped (or “parked” as we like to say), you will need to explicitly set an option when the instance is created. Note that you will still be paying for the reservation if you do not have any running instances that match the reservation.

Another caveat is that “a VM instance can only use a reservation if its properties exactly match the properties of the reservation.“ In other words, you cannot buy a bunch of small reservations and expect that they can be combined into a big reservation, like you can do with certain types of reserved instances from the other cloud providers. This is consistent with the idea of a capacity reservation, rather than a discount program, and is worth keeping in mind.

This is a new avenue for customers to easily commit themselves to spending on resources they may not actually need, so we encourage you to evaluate carefully before reserving capacity and to keep a close watch on your monthly bill and review the cloud waste checklist.

More Committed Use Discounts

Alongside the capacity reservations, Google also announced an expansion of Committed Use Discounts to include GPUs, Cloud TPU Pods, and local SSDs.

Committed Use Discounts are the Google pricing option most analogous to AWS and Azure Reserved Instances. Essentially, you choose how much to purchase in advance for up to a 55% discount. More here: How to Analyze Google Cloud Committed Use Discounts.

Get the Best Pricing for You

Ultimately, Google Cloud pricing fares well on measures of user-friendliness and options for cost savings, but we question if the reserved capacity changes will do anything to improve the readability of the bill. On the other hand, the expansion of Committed Use discounts does provide more savings-in-hand options for customers.

Take a few minutes to ensure you’re not oversizing or spending money on resources that should be turned off, and you’ll be well on your way to an optimized Google Cloud bill.

Global Company Achieves Azure Cloud Management with ParkMyCloud

Global Company Achieves Azure Cloud Management with ParkMyCloud

We recently chatted with Ben V., Network & Communications Specialist at a global company, about how his team uses ParkMyCloud for Azure cloud management.

Hi Ben, thanks for chatting with us. So tell me about what you and your team do within the company.

I’m a Network & Communications specialist on a team of four. We manage the infrastructure that end developers throughout the company use. For us, that’s Microsoft Azure.

So what made you realize there was an Azure cloud management need in your organization?

When I started working here, I saw that the Azure environment was running 24×7, including development resources. Specifically, we’re using Microsoft Dynamics which comes with a hefty parameter that uses a lot of resources.

When I saw the high bill, at first I actually looked to see what Azure offers. Azure does offer a piece of it. You can log in and shut down the servers. You can set schedules to shut down machines, but they often wouldn’t turn back on, you have to manually turn them back on. And not all our developers have permissions to go into Azure to turn on and off the servers.  

So, I started looking for a solution to solve this problem. A friend of mine who I have worked with over the years told me about ParkMyCloud, so I looked into it and started a trial. I looked around at other solutions, and to me, this one just stood out as the best solution to the problem.

What was your initial experience using ParkMyCloud like?

Once I got it set up, we saved more than $6,000 the first month alone just by being able to turn off all of the servers that were constantly running during weekends and at night on weekdays when a lot of the developers weren’t even touching it or using it.

And then we gave developers access to override schedules during the weekend in case they needed to work. That was even better because when they had to ask permission it would cut into my time as well.

How much are you saving using ParkMyCloud?

We have been using ParkMyCloud for over a year now, and we’ve saved about $75,000. The great thing is, it’s a very reasonable cost for us for a huge amount of savings.

What other benefits have you gained while using the product?

We hit the jackpot due to the fact that it gave us the ability to set schedules and the ability to assign different developers to teams so they can log in and can override a schedule for 12 hours or whatever they need it for. Now we’re not having to constantly log into the Azure environment and deal with it that way. It saves my time.

It makes it easier to deal with the developers to save costs. We have some third-party developers, and it’s nice to be able to separate their permissions and give them access to as few servers as possible. We have a global employee base, so we set schedules based on developers’ locations. Most of our staff schedules for resources to run only Monday to Friday, 7 am to 7 pm on average, and off nights and weekends.

Through ParkMyCloud’s utilization data and recommendations, we also found environments running that hadn’t been accessed in weeks, so we turned those off right away.

Are you using anything else for Azure cloud management?

No, we haven’t found the need for any tools in addition to ParkMyCloud.

Do you have any other feedback for us?

The product is great! Anyone I know that is using Azure, I always tell them about the product. It’s such a great way to save money and for the overall cost – you can’t beat it.

Your team has also been very easy to work with and customer service has always been great. I’ve done different types of IT through the years and I can tell you, customer service can go a long ways, so that’s a big plus.

Interested in getting the same time and money savings Ben did? Check it out with a free trial of ParkMyCloud.

Want tips, tricks, and insights for an optimized cloud?

> No, I like wasting time and money.