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.
AWS CloudWatch is Amazon Web Services’ primary monitoring tool for your cloud environment. Whether you are aware of it or not, if you use AWS, your data is being collected in CloudWatch, on more metrics than you probably know what to do with. With a small amount of effort, however, you can make this data work for you to reduce costs, automatically.
What AWS CloudWatch Data Tells You
First of all, is AWS CloudWatch collecting data about your utilization? Almost certainly, the answer is yes. As an example, here are some of the metrics that are collected by default for EC2:
Like many AWS services, AWS CloudWatch has a free tier that covers the needs of many applications. You’ll need to pay more for custom metrics; extra dashboards, alarms, and logs; and custom events.
Also worth keeping in mind is that data is kept historically, based on the data resolution. Data points with a period of 60 seconds are kept for 15 days, although shorter periods are kept for as short as 3 hours, and longer for up to 15 months.
What to do with all this data? First, set up your AWS CloudWatch dashboard(s) and create alerts on the metrics that are important to you. The next step is to use this data for automated optimization of your environment.
How to Turn That Data into Automated Cost Savings
Most organizations using public cloud are wasting thousands or even hundreds of thousands of dollars on cloud resources they’re not actually using. Even if you’re aware of overspend, you may not think you have the time or bandwidth to address the issue. With automation, integrating cost control into your daily processes can be straightforward.
One ParkMyCloud customer, Kurt Brochu of Sysco Foods, once told us, “To me, the magic is that the platform empowers the end user to make decisions for the betterment of the business.” His team has achieved a lifetime ROI of 1400% using ParkMyCloud. AWS data and ParkMyCloud’s automation capabilities empower his users to identify what spend is necessary, and what can be optimized.
Learn how – by hearing from Kurt directly!
We’re joining together with him and AWS to discuss how to empower your team to use AWS CloudWatch data to optimize cloud costs. Join us for a webinar on June 26 at 2 PM Eastern/11 AM Pacific.
The webinar will give you an understanding of:
What Amazon CloudWatch and AWS Trusted Advisor data is available that can help you save money
Real-world examples of cost savings
Potential data availability challenges and “gotchas” and how to address them
How ParkMyCloud’s automated cost optimization platform can use your utilization data to optimize costs
As applications and systems have evolved from single-host mainframes to distributed microservices architectures, infrastructure automation has become a key part of the toolkit for modern sysadmins and operations teams. This automation has gone from doing basic Operating System installation and setup to full-blown multi-step deployments of production code from a single developer’s commit. By automating these mundane processes and eliminating the human error, production systems have a much higher stability than ever before.
But why stop at automating deployments? There are other elements that need to be automated, too –– one of which is cost.
Rolling out new infrastructure over and over again without ever taking a step back to analyze the cost just leads to the panic-driven cloud-bill-based phone calls from your finance department. Instead, taking similar automation decisions as Puppet, Chef, Ansible, Terraform, or Jenkins and applying them to your cloud costs can help you incrementally save money so you never have that giant surprise bill.
Scaling Up Without Ever Spinning Down
Developers and operations teams often use infrastructure automation early in application development and deployment processes to get servers and databases deployed and functioning. Modern automation tools aren’t just powerful, but also quick to deploy and fit into your current workflow. This is fantastic, but the problem is that the automation effort can start to taper off once the environments are running. Too often, users and teams move on to the next project before figuring out a way to keep costs from getting out of control. Then it becomes too late, and they simply accept that money needs to be dumped into the deployment pipeline to keep everything on task.
Easy-to-use automation is the key to spinning these environments up efficiently, and can also be key for keeping the costs of these environments low. Sure, you may need to keep the production systems scaled up for maximum application performance and customer satisfaction, but what about the test lab, sandbox environment, dev systems, UAT servers, QA deployments, staging hosts, and other pre-production workloads? Having giant environments with system sizes that match production can be useful for some testing, but leaving it all running can be easily doubling your cloud costs for each environment like this that you have, for things that are used for a fraction of the time.
As your infrastructure automation toolkit grows and evolves, there’s a few things that you’ll start building in to all of your applications and deployments:
As this list grows, there’s one more thing you need: Continuous Cost Control.
By building in cost control automation from the very beginning, you can keep your cloud costs low while maintaining the flexibility required to keep up the pace of innovation. Without this, your costs are destined to rise faster than you intended, and is only going to cause headaches (and endless meetings) for your future self. It may not be coming out of your bank account directly, but saving money at an enterprise organization is everyone’s job, and automating this is the key.
And that’s actually what thousands of customers around the world are using ParkMyCloud for today! Get started with continuous cost control today.
The latest update to ParkMyCloud is support for AWS China! In the latest release of the platform, we added support for the two Amazon Web Services (AWS) regions in China, expanding our cost optimization coverage for more public cloud users.
After the United States, China has the second-largest public cloud market at $10.5 billion in 2019, according to IDC. Gartner reports that in Asia as a whole, Alibaba Cloud – which ParkMyCloud also supports – holds 19.6% market share, while AWS has 11% of the market. All of that spend needs to be optimized so that it does not contribute to the billions of dollars that are wasted every year on unnecessary resources.
About ParkMyCloud AWS China Support
AWS offers two regions in China, AWS China (Beijing) and AWS China (Ningxia), which are operated by local providers – Sinnet and NWCD, respectively. In order to get an AWS China account, AWS customers must create a separate set of credentials, which require a valid Chinese business license, as Chinese law forbids non-Chinese companies from owning or operating certain technology for the provision of cloud services.
ParkMyCloud now supports both of these regions, offering the same benefits that other, AWS, Azure, Google Cloud, and Alibaba Cloud customers enjoy:
Machine Learning. Resource scheduling and resizing based on recommendations leveraging resource utilization history.
Automate. A robust policy engine automates schedule and sizing actions based on user tags, and adds resources and users to teams for simplified governance.
Easy to Use. No scripting, no agents, and a 15-minute setup. Simple UI can be used by anyone, with options for API access and integrations as needed.
Take Action. Users can control resources and get notified with ChatOps bots in Slack, Microsoft Teams, and Google Hangouts.
Save Time. Automated policies require little upkeep for savings. Keeps teams focused on creating value for their businesses.
Save Money. Save an average of $12 for every dollar spent on ParkMyCloud. Plans start as low as $2/resource/month.
What Else is New?
Most notably, last week we released RightSizing Automation for AWS and Google Cloud Platform. This new capability gives you recommendations for sizing changes on your resources to optimize costs – which can save up to 75% per resource.
Other recent highlights for AWS users include:
AWS GovCloud Support – cost optimization support for the two US GovCloud regions available for government and others in highly regulated industries.
AWS Marketplace availability – gives AWS customers the option to add the cost of ParkMyCloud to their regular AWS bill with a simplified purchasing process.
Resource Utilization Graphs – see line graphs and heatmaps for usage data including CPU, network, and memory on various metrics – all of which is used in SmartParking recommended schedules to optimize your on/off times based on your utilization data.
First, you’ll need a ParkMyCloud account if you don’t already have one. You can get started with a 14-day free trial.
Then, whether you’re a new or existing ParkMyCloud user, you will need to connect to your AWS China account via an IAM User credential rather than the normal IAM role. This is because AWS China runs in the dedicated “aws-cn” partition and ParkMyCloud runs in the “aws” public cloud partition, and AWS does not support cross-account IAM Roles between partitions. Since IAM User credentials are normally disabled within ParkMyCloud, you will need to request IAM User access by contacting ParkMyCloud Support by email or by entering a ticket using the Support link in the Console.
What other public cloud services would you like to see ParkMyCloud support? Let us know in the comments below!
Cloud Optimization Blog
Cost Optimization Techniques
DevOps & ITOps How-To Guides
Cloud Industry Analysis
Email Never Shared Cancel Any Time
How to Turn AWS Utilization Data into Automated Cost Control
Learn how your AWS utilization data in CloudWatch can be harnessed to optimize your cloud costs.