How to Protect Your Production Servers (The “Never Park” Policy)

The other day, we talked to a prospective ParkMyCloud customer about how to protect his production servers. He had just started a trial of ParkMyCloud, and before he added additional users to his account, he had an important question: How can I keep my production servers safe from my end users accidentally parking them?

It’s a great question! Before you start shutting down your non-production resources for cost savings, it’s a good idea to protect your mission-critical production resources from being parked, which could wreak havoc on your applications — while some resources can be stopped, or “parked”, during off-hours, there are, of course, others that need to run 24×7.

Luckily, with ParkMyCloud’s policy engine, it’s straightforward and easy to protect your production resources. All you need to do is apply a “never park” policy so those resources cannot be scheduled or manually started/stopped.

Only users with the SuperAdmin role can create and manage policies, so if you’re the primary account holder, you don’t have to worry about end users changing these policies once they’re set up. Your production resources will be safe from being parked, so you can start parking and saving away.

Here’s how to create a policy for yourself. (If you don’t have an account yet, you can start a ParkMyCloud free trial and follow along.)

From the ParkMyCloud console:

  1. policy-engineGo to the left sidebar and select “Policies” and “Create Policy”.
  2. Name your policy – let’s call it ‘Never Park’
  3. Input the criteria to identify your production resources  – usually this will be by name or tag.
  4. Select “Restrict” as the action.
  5. From the Restrict dropdown menu, select “Never Park”. For this option, users can neither attach schedules nor manually start/stop resources.

You can also use policies to assign instances to teams based on their tags or names. If you set up your teams in advance, this is a simple way to automatically control which users have access to which instances.  So in this example you could set up a “Production Team” and have all your production instances sort directly to this team. And as an admin you are able to create the permissions for who has access to this team, adding another layer of protection.

Save your policy to protect your production resources from being parked and you’re all set!

There are a few other reasons you may want to use policies on your resources. For example, you can use policies to automatically attach or detach schedules to instances, again based on credential, location, name, type, or tag. So, for example, you could set all of your instances tagged “development” to have the “Up M-F, 8 am – 5 pm” schedule automatically applied.

You can also restrict resources with parking schedules to “snooze only”. That is, end users can only snooze the attached schedule, they cannot edit, detach or change it.

The policy engine is a powerful feature that can help you automate many of the common actions within ParkMyCloud, ensuring that you maximize your cost savings with the least amount of effort.

If you have any additional questions about using policies, please comment below or contact us!

Watch: 5 Reasons to Turn Off Your Cloud Servers When They’re Not in Use

We recently held a web session “5 reasons to turn off your cloud servers when they’re not in use.” Even if you weren’t able to join us, you can check out the recording below – or use the annotations below to skip ahead to the section you’re interested in.

00:51 Overview of presentation

01:18 Reason #1 – Save Money

  • Compute makes up the largest share of spend for most enterprise cloud users
  • AWS Example:
    • $10 billion/year in revenue
    • 70% is EC2 ($7 billion)
    • 52% is non-production which could be turned off at night ($3.5 billion)
    • A simple 12-hour on/off schedule saves $1.75 billion in instance costs

03:00 Comparison of the major ways to save money in AWS

  • 03:07 Reserved instances – pay upfront for a contract for 30-40% savings. Best for production environments.
  • 04:06 Spot instances – open market on spare capacity. Savings are compelling (70-90%) but risk that your instance could go away if the price goes above your bid price.
  • 04:37 Autoscaling groups – scale up and down groups of all types of instances according to your environment needs.
  • 05:00 Turn instances off to save money when you’re not using them.

05:29 Reason #2 – Improve Security

  • There is nothing more secure than a server that is OFF (This is what security people actually dream about)
  • There is nothing easier to monitor than servers that are OFF (so long as your NOC folks are NOT surprised)

06:20 Reason #3 – Reduce Environmental Impact

  • Data centers consume ~2% of all electricity globally (3% of U.S.), growing at 12% YoY.1
  • 80% of power is provided by fossil fuels
  • Avoiding the need for new data centers reduces carbon emissions
  • It also makes good business sense:
    • Cloud providers like AWS improve profitability and increase carbon credits when they can oversubscribe their infrastructure.
    • They can’t oversubscribe if they are over-provisioned
    • Therefore, turning servers off when not in use is one sure fire way help oversubscribe

08:31 Reason #4 – Because Werner Says So

  • AWS CTO Werner Vogels recently addressed an audience of AWS users, saying, “You can turn off your resources when you go home. Typical cost savings are 75%.”

08:51 Reason #5 – Peace of Mind

  • Knowing you’re saving money, improving security, helping the environment and obeying Werner will help you sleep better at night … who wouldn’t?
  • The question is how?
    • You manually turn things off when you leave. In Offices there are automated light switches. There’s a reason, right?
    • You could create scripts to do this automatically – that is not a cost-effective

09:29 ParkMyCloud – built specifically to turn off your servers when you don’t need them

  • WHAT: Simple, single- purpose SaaS tool.
  • HOW: Automatically schedule on/off times for idle servers.
  • WHY: Optimize cloud services spending.
  • ROI: Save 60% or more; 6 week payback.

10:17 ParkMyCloud product demo

  • 10:28 Dashboard overview – see all your instances in one place
  • 11:19 Parking recommendations
  • 12:15 Parking schedule interface – create your own schedules
  • 13:51 Snooze parking schedules
  • 15:24 Automated policy engine – create policies to automatically handle scheduling, team assignments

User Questions

  • 18:16 How did you connect to AWS and find your instances?
  • 19:18 How do you figure that you can save 65% on instances that you turn off nights and weekends?
  • 19:52 Can you compare turning instances off to Reserved Instances?
  • 22:12 Do the energy savings you described for Amazon apply to other cloud providers?
  • 24:05 Why Dale doesn’t like scripting on/off times

We welcome additional questions in the comments below, and hope to see you at our next web session!

Foster Moore Balances Cloud Governance, Cost, and User Freedom with ParkMyCloud

We spoke to Bobby Chan, System Engineer and Melanie Metcalfe, Project Support Manager, at software development company Foster Moore about their AWS use and how they’re managing costs and cloud users with ParkMyCloud.

foster-mooreCan you describe what Foster Moore does? What does your team do within the company?

Foster Moore is an international software development company based in New Zealand which specializes in online registries using our product called “Catalyst”.  We have clients all around the world which requires us to be agile to cater to the different time zones.

Bobby Chan (BC):   I am part of the Operational Services Group (OSG).  We look after the day-to-day running of production systems as well as our internal infrastructure.  My role is a System Engineer, primarily dealing with Release Management.

Melanie Metcalfe (MM):  I run our Project Support Office. We sit within the Finance Division, providing administration and support for all three Foster Moore offices.

Can you describe how you are using the cloud?

BC:  We are currently using AWS for most of our Catalyst product implementations. This is for all environments, from development up to production using a lot of the core functions like EC2, RDS and Route53.

What challenges did you experience in using AWS prior to using ParkMyCloud?

BC:  As the business was rapidly growing, we started to struggle with the escalating costs of the cloud.  On one hand, we were trying to restrict people’s use of AWS for security reasons, but on the other hand we wanted to provide them the freedom of the cloud.

We attempted to have manual on/off schedules for instances, but this proved troublesome with the dispersed team and the human ability to forget.  This also put a lot of pressure on the OSG team, who would be solely responsible for this management.

MM: From both a Project and Finance perspective, AWS invoices have limited usability of supporting data provided.  We needed to be able to attach costs to certain projects and control the associated responsibility for those costs by team or by project.

What drove you to search for a solution?

BC:  Ultimately costs and the ability to manage and control them.  Additionally, we wanted to pass the responsibility of management to the dev/test teams.

How did you hear about ParkMyCloud?

lightbulbBC:  A colleague of ours was tasked with finding a solution to the escalating cost of AWS by the Director of Operational Services. When ParkMyCloud was initially described to our director, who previously worked for utility companies, the analogy of a light switch that the “consumer” could switch on and off was a revelation.  The technological simplicity enabled an easy transition of ownership to Mel’s “cost control police”. Mel took it from there and made it her own. It’s now a business controlled process rather than an IT one, which is as it should be.

MM: I was introduced to ParkMyCloud through a colleague in the OSG.  I could immediately see the benefits is controlling costs and potential for forecasted savings.

Can you describe your experience so far using ParkMyCloud?

BC:  It has been very good.  The tool itself has been simple to use and most of our team here have been able to use it with minimal guidance.  The PMC team have also been very receptive to our requests and comments.

MM: The first thing we did was establish Teams and set up a process for access to all environments that sit within each Team. The Team Lead is ultimately responsible for who has access.  As above we endeavor to have all possible instances on a 24/7 down schedule with team members given full access to override for as long as needed.

What servers are you putting schedules on?

BC:  We have schedules on everything but production.  The idea of that is that since production is never “meant to be down”, we have left them without a schedule.

What benefits has your company realized with ParkMyCloud?

BC: First, as this was a cost exercise, it was cost savings.  We then had the benefits of incorporating all other teams like development and test teams in the responsibility of looking after their own instances.

MM: The savings have been hugely beneficial.  The forecasted savings from scheduling feature is excellent.  The access via teams also provides a better level of ownership and accountability.

What percent are you saving using ParkMyCloud?

MM:  Anywhere from 30-40%, depending on how much time we spend chasing unscheduled instances.

What other cloud cost-savings measures do you have in place?

BC:  While we don’t have any other tools used primarily for cost savings (other than the native AWS tools i.e. Trusted Advisor), we have been going through the exercise of trying to actively reduce the RDS costs for our environments as this is one of our largest costs other than EC2 instances.

Do you use ParkMyCloud for user governance? What other cloud governance measures do you have in place?

BC:  We use the teams function from ParkMyCloud to control access to instances in AWS.  We divvy up the instances based on the clients they service and then assign users accordingly.  We use ParkMyCloud as the primary access point for AWS instances, so we don’t need other measures to lock down the users.

Thank you both, Bobby and Melanie!

ParkMyCloud Announces “Zero-Touch Parking” for Automated Cloud Cost Optimization

Automation engine from AWS cost optimization leader ParkMyCloud will eliminate wasted cloud spend, making dent in $5.6 billion problem

Sterling, VA, October 24th, 2016 – ParkMyCloud announced that it has released “Zero-Touch Parking” – a first-of-its-kind automation engine that applies start/stop schedules and policies to cloud instances. Zero-Touch Parking is a game-changing addition to ParkMyCloud’s cloud cost optimization platform, as it allows users to “take their hands off the wheel” and let ParkMyCloud apply the parking schedules — automatically.

Up to $5.6 billion is wasted every year on public cloud resources that are not being used during evenings and weekends for development, testing, and staging environments. In its first year, ParkMyCloud’s programmable “light switch” for cloud environments has already saved its customers over $1 million (an average ROI of 1700%). As its reach grows, ParkMyCloud expects this to grow 500% to over $5 million in savings during year 2.

In addition to automated cost savings with Zero-Touch Parking, ParkMyCloud’s new policy engine increases security and eases governance. Administrators can create rules to automatically assign instances to teams of users, and to protect certain instances, such as mission-critical production environments, from accidentally being turned off by users.

“Zero touch parking and the associated policy engine enables ParkMyCloud to take its position as a ‘Nest’ for the cloud cost optimization market using analytics and automation,” said CTO Dale Wickizer. “This new, powerful engine – our most-requested feature – will help our users save a significant amount of time managing their cloud resources.”

Next on the horizon for ParkMyCloud is expansion to support additional cloud providers beyond Amazon Web Services (AWS). ParkMyCloud plans to support Microsoft Azure at the beginning of 2017, with Google Cloud Platform to follow.

About ParkMyCloud

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.

ParkMyCloud Partners with Distributor “Too Many Clouds” to Bring Cloud Cost Optimization to the UK

Too Many Clouds” to spearhead growth of ParkMyCloud’s AWS scheduling and cost reduction platform in the United Kingdom, Republic of Ireland and Australia.

Sterling, VA, September 19th, 2016 – ParkMyCloud today announced a partnership with cloud and disruptive technology distributor Too Many Clouds, based in the United Kingdom. The technology distributor will spearhead ParkMyCloud’s growth in the UK, the Republic of Ireland and Australia.

Too Many Clouds focuses on helping IT organizations better procure, contract, and budget for IT expenditure in a way that captures the efficiencies of cloud computing at a low cost. With ParkMyCloud, their customers will be able to optimize their Amazon Web Services (AWS) spending with automated start/stop times for non-production instances, allowing them to reduce AWS bills by up to 60%.

“Too Many Clouds is exactly the kind of organization we were looking to partner with,” said Jay Chapel, CEO and Co-Founder of ParkMyCloud. “Their expertise and reach is an excellent addition to ParkMyCloud’s growing presence throughout the globe.”

“We believe in delivering our resellers, and by extension their customers, best-in-class cloud solutions,” Jazz Padda, Managing Director of Too Many Clouds. “We do this as the go-to distributor for all Pan-EMEA and APAC resellers that want to provide innovative solutions and ‘disruptive technology’ to their customers. ParkMyCloud help us achieve that “disruptive” status in AWS whilst saving our customers money. With the technology sector forever evolving, IT Resellers and MSPs have to continuingly adapt – which we assist with by providing the training, along with everything else, in order to enable them to provide the current tech trends.”

About Too Many Clouds

Too Many Clouds is a leading Cloud and Disruptive tech distributor headquartered in the UK. At its core, Too Many Clouds provides the reseller channel with a true value driven distribution model. Seen as an innovative partner in the distribution scene throughout Europe and Australia.

Too Many Clouds is the answer to the exponential growth of Cloud Service Providers, many of whom resell third party services but without the necessary skillset to deliver them. Our team have real world experience in our specialist solution areas to assist reseller partners provide Cloud and Disruptive technology solutions.

http://www.toomanyclouds.com

+44 (0)208 1234 837

info@toomanyclouds.com

About ParkMyCloud

ParkMyCloud is a simple, single-purpose SaaS tool that enables users to automatically schedule on/off times for their idle non-production cloud computing servers (also known as “parking”), so they pay only for the time they actually use and avoid wasted spending.  Customers, which include McDonald’s, Sage Software, Neustar, Avid, Wolters Kluwer and ZestFinance, save 60% or more on non-production spend. For more information, visit www.parkmycloud.com.