Predictive Scaling for EC2 & More AWS Announcements to Be Thankful For

Predictive Scaling for EC2 & More AWS Announcements to Be Thankful For

Amazon Web Services (AWS) has been pumping out announcements in the lead up to their AWS re:Invent conference next week – which is predicted to exceed 50,000 attendees this year. (See you there?) We’re excited to see what big news the cloud giant has for us next week!

In the meantime, here are three AWS announcements from the last few days that will interest anyone who’s concerned with cloud costs.

Predictive Scaling for EC2

AWS’s new predictive scaling for EC2 is a new and improved way to use Auto Scaling to optimize costs. Typically when you set up an Auto Scaling Group, you need to set scaling policies, such as rules for launching instances based on changes in capacity. Given the complexity of these requirements, some users we’ve talked to forgo them altogether, instead using Auto Scaling simply for instance health checks and replacements.

With predictive scaling for EC2, there is very little the user needs to set up. You will simply set up the group, and machine learning models will analyze daily and weekly scaling patterns to predictively scale. You’ll have choices to optimize for availability, or optimize for cost – making it easy to use Auto Scaling to save money.Of course, sometimes you’ll know better than the machine – for example, development and test instances may require on/off or scale-up/scale-down schedules based on when users need them, which won’t always be consistent. For that, use ParkMyCloud to schedule auto scaling groups to turn off or change scaling when you know they will have little or no utilization.

AWS Cost Explorer Forecasting

AWS has announced an improved forecasting engine for the AWS Cost Explorer. It now breaks down historical data based on charge type – distinguishing between On Demand and Reserved Instance charges – and applies machine learning to predict future spend.

They have extended the prediction range from three months to twelve months, which will certainly be of use for budget forecasting. It’s also accessible via the API – we see this being used to show budget predictions on team dashboards in your office, among other applications.

CloudWatch Automatic Dashboards

The third announcement from this week that we’re looking forward to using ourselves here at ParkMyCloud is the new series of CloudWatch Automatic Dashboards. This will make it remarkably easier to navigate through your CloudWatch metrics and monitor costs and performance, and help potential issues break through the noise.

Thanks, AWS!

Now, play around with AWS’s new predictive scaling for EC2, then take some time to relax.

Happy Thanksgiving! (And to our non-U.S. readers, enjoy your Thursday!)

ParkMyCloud Adds Rightsizing to Enable Enterprises to Better Optimize Cloud Costs

ParkMyCloud Adds Rightsizing to Enable Enterprises to Better Optimize Cloud Costs

Cloud cost optimization leader adds new method to address cloud waste to improve cloud users’ efficiency

November 21, 2018 (Dulles, VA) – ParkMyCloud, provider of the leading enterprise platform for continuous cost control in public cloud, announced today that its cost optimization platform has now expanded to provide “rightsizing”. Rightsizing is a way to reduce wasted cloud spend by resizing cloud resources, and can provide significant savings: just by moving a virtual machine down one size tier, 50% or more  — and resources are often so overprovisioned that multiple size transitions are possible, raising that savings to 75% or more.

This joins ParkMyCloud’s “parking” functionality, which automatically schedules non-production cloud resources, such as those used for development, testing, staging, and QA, to turn off when they’re not needed. With a typical schedule that parks a resource for 12 hours each night and on weekends, users can save 65% of the cost of their resources. Combined with rightsizing, this means that an average cloud user is poised to reduce overall costs in their cloud environment from 50-80% or more.

This release marks the first step to a fully automated instance “SmartSizing”, which ParkMyCloud will release in January 2019. SmartSizing will take rightsizing a step further by actually automating size corrections, requiring little management on the part of the user.

“With each release of the ParkMyCloud platform, we’re delivering customers another piece of the puzzle they need to fully automate multi-cloud cost optimization,” said Bill Supernor, ParkMyCloud’s Chief Technology Officer. “We developed rightsizing in close contact with customers based on their needs, and initial feedback has been positive.”

ParkMyCloud will demo the new functionality at AWS re:Invent, November 26th through November 29th, and invites attendees to visit the company in the expo hall at booth #1709.

About ParkMyCloud

ParkMyCloud provides an easy-to-use platform that helps enterprises automatically identify and eliminate wasted cloud spend. More than 800 enterprises around the world – including Unilever, Sysco, Hitachi ID Systems, Papa John’s, and National Geographic – trust ParkMyCloud to cut their cloud spend by millions of dollars annually. ParkMyCloud’s SaaS offering allows enterprises to easily manage, govern, and optimize their spend across multiple public clouds. For more information, visit www.parkmycloud.com.

Contact

Katy Stalcup, ParkMyCloud

kstalcup@parkmycloud.com

Interview: How Dealer-FX Saves Sysadmins’ Sanity with Automated AWS Management

Interview: How Dealer-FX Saves Sysadmins’ Sanity with Automated AWS Management

We chatted with Steve Scott, Cloud Infrastructure Manager at Dealer-FX about how they use ParkMyCloud’s automated AWS management to save significant amounts of time and sanity.

Tell us about what Dealer-FX does, and what your team does within the company. 

Dealer-FX provides software solutions to dealerships. Our software is used at the service advisor level – the people that you see when you take your car in. They’re usually behind a monitor that you never get to see and they’re typing away all things associated with your car information, VIN, scheduling information, recall information, etc. Our software controls all of that across many different OEMs, which are the manufacturers, and thousands of dealerships across Canada and the US.

I am the manager of cloud operations here and my team is strictly at the cloud management level, fully invested in AWS. We started using AWS through one of the OEMs we work with and that’s how we got into the cloud a few years ago.

Can you describe more about how you’re using AWS?

We use AWS for all of our testing, development, staging, and production environments. We use it all, from the API level to the functional level with virtual servers and virtual environments – everything we have that’s customer facing resides with AWS today.

Before you started using ParkMyCloud, what challenges did you face in your use of AWS?

One of the biggest things is that we use a lot of servers. When we had somewhere around 400 servers, we started to look into scheduling, both for server maintenance and for things that were only required to be online during certain periods of time. There was no inherent AWS service that was easily configurable for the same function that ParkMyCloud offered.

We’ve been using ParkMyCloud for a few years for automated AWS management to schedule resources on and off. Our code is in a period of transition from legacy to more cloud native, so we don’t have the resources to use some of the more cost-effective offerings from AWS like reserved instances, but we’re getting there. ParkMyCloud is certainly helping us, as we rely on it for scheduling server maintenance, staging, testing, and development environments.

How did you find ParkMyCloud?

I was bugging our AWS rep for some type of scheduling functionality. They could do it, but it would have taken a lot of work, and it was kind of iffy whether or not it would work for us. He directed me to ParkMyCloud.

Do you see yourselves using more cost efficient resources like Reserved Instances in the future?

I wouldn’t say that exactly. One thing we will look into is more autoscaling functionality. We do all of that manually, except ParkMyCloud sets up the scheduling and does that beautifully. We currently use ParkMyCloud scheduling because we have a predictable workload. For example, we might have 8 servers online between a certain number of hours, and after a period of time bring it down to 7, then 6, and so on depending on the environment, and then bring them back up again the next day.

In the future, as we build new apps, we’ll still be utilizing ParkMyCloud as we always have. We have RDS functionality on the horizon, which we know we can also schedule with ParkMyCloud’s automated AWS management.

We also use ParkMyCloud for planning on/off times for our staging environments which are on-demand. We haven’t taken advantage of all the features yet, but we use ParkMyCloud for very strategic reasons, in very strategic places, and it works phenomenally.

How would you describe the benefits that Dealer-FX has gotten from ParkMyCloud?

From the sysadmin perspective, the main reason we wanted ParkMyCloud was the sheer ease of turning servers on and off. Before, we needed to wake up at certain times and do it ourselves, manually turning off and on hundreds of servers. Having to do those things is no one’s cup of tea!

Who was responsible for doing that previously?

It was 2-3 people on my team.

It sounds like that took a lot of time.

It was a significant amount of time, and due to the high volume of deployments and growth over time, it become more and more terrible to administrate. ParkMyCloud is saving us time and sanity all over the place, and it just works. We’ve never had an issue with it. The design is ultimately “set it and forget it.”

Any other feedback? 

I know there’s lots of things on the horizon that we’ll be using as needed, and I’d be happy to receive updates of new features. Any new tools, extensions, or anything you add I would love to hear about.

We’ll be sharing rightsizing shortly, so look forward to that next! We appreciate your time and feedback.

Sounds great! Thanks!

How to Use Azure Resource Groups for Better VM Management

How to Use Azure Resource Groups for Better VM Management

When you create a virtual machine in Microsoft Azure, you are required to assign it to an Azure Resource Group. This grouping structure may seem like just another bit of administrivia, but savvy users will utilize this structure for better governance and cost management for their infrastructure.

What are Azure Resources Groups?

Azure Resources Groups are logical collections of virtual machines, storage accounts, virtual networks, web apps, databases, and/or database servers. Typically, users will group related resources for an application, divided into groups for production and non-production — but you can subdivide further as needed.

You will manage groups through the “Azure Resource Manager”, where you can deploy and manage groups. Benefits of the Azure Resource Manager include the ability to manage your infrastructure in a visual UI rather than through scripts; tagging management; deployment templates; and simplified role-based access control.

Group structures like Azure’s exist at the other big public clouds — AWS, for example, offers optional Resource Groups, and Google Cloud “projects” define a level of grouping that falls someplace between Azure subscriptions and Azure Resource Groups.

How to Use Azure Resource Groups Effectively for Governance

Azure resource groups are a handy tool for role-based access control (RBAC). Typically, you will want to grant user access at the group level – groups make this simpler to manage and provide greater visibility.

Effective use of tagging allows you to identify resources for technical, automation, billing, and security purposes. Tags can extend beyond resource groups, which allows you to use tags to associate groups and resources that belong to the same project, application, or service. Be sure to apply tagging best practices, such as requiring a standard set of tags to be applied before a resource is deployed, to ensure you’re optimizing your resources.

Azure Resources Groups Simplify Cost Management

Azure Resource Groups also provide a ready-made structure for cost allocation  — groups make it simpler to identify costs at a project level. Additionally, you can use managing and to manage resource scheduling and, when they’re no longer needed, termination.

You can do this manually, or through your cost optimization platform such as ParkMyCloud. To this end, we have just released functionality that allows you to use ParkMyCloud’s policy engine to manage Azure resources at the group level. For almost all Azure users, this means automatic assignment to teams, so you can provide governed user access to ParkMyCloud. It also means you can set on/off schedules at the group level, to turn your non-production groups off when they’re not needed. Try it out and let us know what you think.

New: Schedule Google Cloud SQL Databases with ParkMyCloud

New: Schedule Google Cloud SQL Databases with ParkMyCloud

The latest release of ParkMyCloud includes the ability to schedule Google Cloud SQL Databases, among other updates to help you save more money through cloud automation.

Save with Google Cloud SQL Parking

First up, ParkMyCloud can now park Google Cloud SQL Databases! This means you can automate start/stop on a schedule, so your databases used for development, testing, and other non-production purposes are only running when you actually need them – and you only pay for the hours you need. The average schedule in ParkMyCloud is OFF 65% of the time, which means 65% savings – that’s a lot of money.

You can also use ParkMyCloud’s policy engine to create rules that automatically assign your SQL databases to parking schedules and to teams, so they’re only accessible to the users who need them.

Google Cloud SQL databases are just the latest in the growing list of types of cloud resources you can park, which also includes Google VM instances, Google Managed Instance groups, AWS EC2 instances, AWS auto scaling groups, AWS RDS instances, Azure VMs, Azure Scale Sets, and Alibaba Cloud ECS instances.

So why now? A growing number of ParkMyCloud users base their infrastructure in Google Cloud – in fact, GCP users are our fastest-growing segment of users. We’ll continue to add ways to optimize your environment no matter what clouds you use, of course, but expect more GCP features to come. We’ve focused on databases in this release because databases are the biggest area of cloud spend after compute, accounting for about 15-20% of an average enterprise’s bill.

What Else is New in ParkMyCloud?

Users will enjoy a few other recent additions to the ParkMyCloud platform:

  • Automatically accept SmartParking recommendations – fully automate your resource optimization by using ParkMyCloud’s policy engine to automatically apply schedules (previously, these had to be manually applied). There are several settings you can tweak to suit your needs – more in the release notes.
  • Chat integrations – we most recently added chat integration for Google Hangouts and MS Teams, joining our existing Slack integration. You can receive notifications and perform override commands and more through your chat window
  • Join the ParkMyCloud User Community on Slack – feel free to join even if you’re not yet a customer!

How to Get Started

If you’re new to ParkMyCloud, you can get started with a free trial. After the full-featured 14-day trial, you can choose to subscribe to a premium plan, or use the free tier – visit our pricing page for more information.

If you already use ParkMyCloud, you’ll need to enable ParkMyCloud to discover and manage your Google Cloud SQL databases. Find the details about the updated limited access role permissions in our user guide. Two things to note: first, you’ll need to be subscribed to the Standard or Enterprise tier in order to access this feature.

As always, we welcome your feedback about this new addition to ParkMyCloud, and any features you’d like to see in the future – comment below or shoot us a note. Cheers!