AWS credits are a way to save on your Amazon Web Services (AWS) bill. Credits are applied to AWS cloud bills to help cover costs that are associated with eligible services and are applied until they are exhausted or expire. Essentially, credits are a coupon-code like mechanism used by Amazon on your bill. If you want to see how to redeem your AWS promotional credits, look here.
So how do you get these credits? There are a number of ways – here are 11 that we have either used ourselves or that have been successfully used by our customers.
With AWS Activate, companies can build or scale with up to $100,000 in AWS promotional credits. AWS Activate is ideal for startups because they get access to resources as quickly as possible, and AWS provides them with a low cost, easy-to-use infrastructure to help them grow.
This is a big help for startups, knowing they are getting their money’s worth with these credits lets them focus on one thing – growth. If you are looking to get started on AWS definitely check this out.
AWS Activate offers two packages designed for startups, AWS Activate Founders (for startups without funding) and the AWS Activate Portfolio (for startups associated with an AWS Activate Provider).
AWS Activate Founders
Offered as part of the AWS Activate program, AWS Activate Founders is designed as a package for bootstrapped and self-funded startups that haven’t raised any venture capital, seed, or angel funding. If your organization isn’t affiliated with any accelerators or incubators then you are eligible to apply. This package provides credits, resources, as well as dedicated technical and business support to help startups build, test, and deploy on AWS.
After applying and getting approved, startups will receive up to $1,000 in Activate Credits and $350 in Developer Support Credits. The $1,000 credit is valid for two years and the $350 credit is valid for one year, this way you can get started building and experimenting with AWS.
AWS Activate Portfolio
The AWS Activate Portfolio package differs from the other package offered in the Activate program because these startups are affiliated with an AWS Activate Provider, meaning some kind of seed/VC firm, accelerator, incubator, or other startup-enabling institutions.
This package offers startups up to $100,000 in AWS Activate Credits – different portfolio offers will have different benefits. With the portfolio, you can either receive AWS Activate Credits that cover AWS services, or AWS Activate Business Support credits that cover technical support.
Publish an Alexa Skill
For all you developers, each Alexa skill that you publish, you can apply to receive a $100 AWS promotional credit. Take advantage of these credits to get all your skills potential!
Attending AWS webinars, events, and conferences can get you AWS credits. In order to be awarded the credits, you’ll have to provide proof that you actually attended. Make sure to keep an eye on their events page, as new stuff is being added all the time.
In an effort to educate the next generation of cloud professionals, AWS has made AWS Educate available to institutions, educators, and students. It provides institutions with the resources educators and students need for training resources, cloud-related learning, and content for courses. Students have the opportunity to receive credits by getting hands-on experience with AWS tech, training, content and career pathways.
At member institutions, educators earn $200 in AWS credits compared to non-member institutions they earn $75. Students receive an AWS Educate starter account with up to $100 in credits at a member institution and $30 at a non-member institution. To make this even more appealing, AWS will award students and staff with more credits if you sign up as a member institution.
During these times of virtual learning, AWS is also providing free resources such as webinars and workshops to help users continue to develop cloud skills.
AWS for Nonprofits & NGOs
Amazon offers three different programs for nonprofits; AWS Nonprofit Credit Program, AWS Imagine Grant Program and AWS Cloud Credit for Research. These programs are designed to help organizations of all sizes to overcome barriers to technology adoption, by enhancing the scale, performance, and capabilities of mission operations.
AWS Credit Program for Nonprofits
Through TechSoup Global, eligible nonprofit organizations can request one grant of $2,000 AWS credits once per fiscal year.
AWS Cloud Credits for Research
AWS Cloud Credits for Research evaluates academic research from researchers at accredited institutions around the world. Researchers that apply for this program take an initiative to build a cloud-hosted service, software, or tools and/or want to migrate a research process or open data to the cloud. The credit amount awarded will vary depending on the cost model and usage requirements documented in the research proposal.
AWS Imagine Grant Program
This program is a public grant that’s open to registered 501(c) nonprofit organizations that are using technology to solve the world’s most critical problems. The AWS Imagine Grant Program is offered as a way to have organizations prioritize technology as a mission-critical component of their projects.
Grants are given once, annually for up to to $100,000 in AWS Promotional Credit.
AWS focuses on education technology startups’ long term success with their AWS EdStart program. AWS is looking to provide businesses with the resources they need to get started as quickly and easily on AWS to ensure they have every opportunity to prosper. After applying and getting approved, businesses will receive their credit validation. The credit amount awarded is based on the business’s needs.
AWS Free Tier
As always, the AWS Free Tier is a great option to get access to AWS products for no cost. Customers can use the product for free up to specified limits for one year from the date the account was created.
This includes 750 hours of Amazon EC2 Linux t2.micro instance usage, 5 GB of Amazon S3 standard storage, 750 hours of Amazon RDS Single-AZ db.t2.micro Instances, one million AWS Lambda requests and you can build and host most Alexa skills for free.
You only have access to promotional credits for a limited time, so make sure you take advantage of all these opportunities if you can! Whether you are just getting started with AWS or have been using it for a while, there are plenty of credits and resources available to make AWS an affordable option for you.
There are a few different AWS IP address types that AWS instances can be associated with: Public, Private or Elastic. IP addresses will be either an IPv4 or IPv6 address. Here’s a little more about these types.
A public IP is an address that can be reached from the internet. You can use a public address for communication between the internet and your AWS instances. The best use case for Public IP addresses is for small projects where a dynamic IP can be used without much overhead. AWS has over a million public IP addresses and is constantly adding new ones.
Public IP and Elastic IP addresses are similar in the sense that they are both public and allow instances to communicate with the internet. However, they differ because of the way they are associated with EC2 instances. Public IP addresses are assigned to your instances automatically from Amazon’s pool of public IPv4 addresses once they are launched and remain assigned to the instance until the instance is stopped. If an instance is stopped, a new public IP address will be assigned once the instance is started.
Now let’s look at Elastic IP addresses..
Elastic IP Addresses
An Elastic IP address is static and designed for dynamic cloud computing. An Elastic IP address is allocated to your AWS account rather than with a specific instance. When you associate an Elastic IP address with an instance, it remains allocated to your account and specific instance until it is disassociated from either.
Elastic IP addresses are most commonly used to help with fault-tolerant instances or software. For example, if you have an EC2 instance that has an Elastic IP address and that instance is stopped or terminated, you can remap the address and re-associate it with another instance in your account. You can also re-attach the same IP address to the same EC2 instance when it is restarted, allowing IP-based connections to work seamlessly – and making it possible to start and stop instances to save money while not in use, without losing the IP address.
When it comes to pricing, you can use one Elastic IP address while your instance is running at no charge. But, if you have any additional Elastic IP addresses associated with the instance, or have an EIP reserved and do not use it, you will be charged a small hourly rate of $0.01/hr.
A private address in AWS is an IP address that is not reachable over the internet. You would use private addresses for communication between instances in the same Virtual Private Cloud (VPC). Private IP addresses remain associated with the instance when it is stopped or rebooted, it will only disassociate once the instance is terminated.
When launched, an instance can be assigned a private IP address or EC2 will automatically assign an IP address to the instance within the address range of the subnet. If you don’t specify a primary private IP address, AWS selects an available IP address in the subnet range for you. An additional private IP address, known as secondary private IP address, can also be assigned.
Multiple IP Addresses
While you can give your instance multiple private IPv4 and IPv6 IP addresses, it’s important to note that the number of interfaces and private IP addresses you can specify for an instance depends on the instance type. Multiple IP addresses can be assigned and unassigned to network interfaces that are attached to instances that are stopped or running.
Once you launch an instance, you can assign a secondary private IP address to it. If the instance has already been launched, then you can assign a secondary private IP address to a network interface. A secondary private IPv4 address that’s assigned to a network interface can be reassigned to an additional one as long as you explicitly allow it.
A few use cases where it could be useful to assign multiple IP addresses to an instance in your VPC are:
If you want to host multiple websites on a single server by using multiple SSL certificates and associate every certificate with a specific IP address.
Operate network appliances that have multiple IP addresses for each network interface.
To redirect traffic to a standby instance in case your instance fails – this is done by reassigning a secondary IP address to the standby instance.
Move private IP addresses between instances or interfaces
Additional Aspects of IP Addresses to Know
Amazon Virtual Private Cloud (VPC)
Every EC2 instance in a VPC has a private IP address, users can also opt to have a public IP address. This is a virtual network that is dedicated to your AWS account. VPC offers the ability to have an isolated network that’s dedicated to you, that you can control.
A subnet is a range of IP addresses in your VPC. You can currently create 200 subnets per VPC. if an instance is in a public subnet, it can have either a private, public or elastic IP address. However, if an instance is in a private subnet, it will only have a private IP address with the option of an elastic IP address.
Elastic Network Interface (ENI)
An ENI is a virtual interface that can be created, configured and attached to an instance within a VPC. An ENI can include a public IP address, a primary private IP address, an optional elastic IP address, one or more secondary private IP addresses, and more.
If you’re powering off servers using ParkMyCloud, then you’ll want to use an Elastic IP if you need to connect from the outside world. Otherwise, use a private IP for connections from within your AWS VPC. If you’re going to use Public IPs, make sure you’re careful when restarting the servers as the public IP address will change once an instance has been stopped and started again.
It’s time to start thinking about AWS re:Invent 2020! Since 2012, AWS re:Invent has been one of the biggest cloud conferences every year – last year they drew over 60,000 attendees from around the world. Like many other big events, such as Google Cloud Next and Microsoft Ignite, re:Invent is going to look a little different this year. Over the course of three weeks (November 30 – December 18), AWS will be showing keynotes, launches and sessions – the best part is that it’s free to attend this year.
Every year there’s an unofficial listing of AWS and Vendor parties that are going on at re:Invent, while they obviously won’t be happening in person this year, we can expect there to be some watch parties and online events to look out for. Follow @reInventParties on twitter or check out their website to stay up to date on all the events.
Although planning your schedule will look different this year, here are a few things to keep in mind:
Make a schedule – block out some time on your calendar in advance to allocate enough time for the event. The session catalog will be available on November 10. Once that’s live, we recommend putting sessions and keynotes into your calendar for a clean visual of your day, and reminders. With 3 weeks’ worth of events, it will certainly take some time to determine which sessions you are most interested in, though during registration, AWS does allow you to select up to 3 tracks (from a long list) to focus on. We’ll keep this article updated once there is more information about the schedule and whether some of the tools like this one from Carlos E Silva will be available to help navigate the scheduler.
Take advantage of the online resources – since the event is virtual this year – and free – you aren’t as limited to what you can attend/do, so make sure you optimize this unique experience.
Attend a watch party – virtual watch parties allow you to connect with individuals around the world, helping to supplement what would be the in-person mingling at the actual event. If friends or coworkers are tuning in, create a channel to chat about sessions and announcements. Also, make sure to follow the #reinvent2020 and #reinvent hashtags on Twitter to follow along. Earlier this year for the online AWS Summit there were watch parties so we can expect the same for their biggest event of the year.
Look for swag and other offers from sponsors – just because you can’t visit sponsors booths doesn’t mean you can’t get swag or see a product/service. Most sponsors will likely have an online swag/prize giveaway as a creative way to get the audience involved to make up for the loss of time at the conference hall. If there are any vendors you’re interested in, sign up for their mailing lists now or make a Twitter list to keep an eye out for fun (Millenium Falcon lego set) and useful (free product license) offers.
Get engaged now – of course, AWS isn’t waiting for late November to offer new product intros, case studies, and best practice guides. Check out the upcoming Tech Talks now.
What Will Sponsor “Booths” Look Like This Year?
On that note, AWS is offering sponsor booths for past sponsors, and their materials offer a glimpse into the as-yet-unclear format of the conference, with mentions of virtual meeting rooms and attendee chats. It remains to be seen how much participation we’ll see overall in these. They seem to have a few special events in mind, which we’ll share here once there’s more information.
Look Forward to the Announcements
Last year at re:Invent, AWS announced the launch of a bunch of services and additional services that were in preview – lookout for the announcements this year! Although this isn’t your typical re:Invent experience, this virtual platform will be able to engage individuals like never before. AWS is anticipating more than 250,000 attendees during AWS re:Invent 2020.
In July, AWS updated the cost optimization pillar of their Well-Architected Framework to focus on cloud financial management. This change is a rightful acknowledgment of the importance of functional ownership and cross-team collaboration in order to optimize public cloud costs.
AWS Well-Architected Framework and the Cost Optimization Pillar
If you use AWS, you are probably familiar with the Well-Architected Framework. This is a guide of best practices to help you understand the impact of the decisions you make while designing and building systems on AWS. AWS Well-Architected allows users to learn best practices for building high-performing, resilient, secure, and efficient infrastructure for their workloads and applications.
This framework is based on five pillars — operational excellence, security, reliability, performance efficiency, and cost optimization. Overall, AWS has done a great job with these particular resources, making them clear and accessible with links to further detail.
The Cost Optimization pillar generally covers principles we have been preaching for a long time: expenditure and usage awareness; choosing cost-effective resources; managing demand and supply resources; and regularly reviewing your environments and architectural decisions for cost.
Now, they have added Cloud Financial Management to this pillar. Cloud Financial Management is a set of activities that enables Finance and Technology organizations to manage, optimize and predict costs as they run workloads on AWS.
Why Do Businesses Need Cloud Financial Management?
Incorporating Cloud Financial Management into an organization’s cost optimization plans allows them to accelerate business value realization and optimize cost, usage and scale to maximize financial success.
This is an important part of the cost optimization pillar as it dedicates resources and time to build capability in specific industries and technology domains. Similar to the other pillars, users need to build capability with different resources, programs, knowledge building, and processes to become a cost-efficient organization.
The first step AWS proposes for CFM is functional ownership. (Further reading: Who Should Manage App Development Costs? and 5 Priorities for the Cloud Center of Excellence).The reason all of this is important is since many organizations are composed of different units that have different priorities, there’s not one standard set of objectives for everyone to follow. By aligning your organization on a set of financial objectives, and providing them with the means to make it happen, organizations will become more efficient. Once an organization is running more efficiently, this will lead to more innovation and the ability to build faster. Not to mention organizations will be more agile and have the means to adjust to any factors.
What You Need to Keep in Mind
When most people think of cost optimization they think of cutting costs – but that’s not exactly what AWS is getting at by adding cloud financial management to their framework. It’s about assigning responsibility; partnering between finance and technology; and creating a cost-aware culture.
In a survey conducted earlier this year by 451 Research, they found that adopting Cloud Financial Management practices doesn’t only lower IT costs. In fact, enterprises that adopted Cloud Financial Management practices also benefited in many other aspects of the organization such as, growing revenue through increased business agility, increasing operational resilience to decrease risk, improved profitability and the potential for increased staff productivity.
Cloud Financial Management increases with cloud maturity, so it’s important to be patient with the process and remember that small changes can have huge impacts and benefits can increase as time goes on.
Amazon provides you with a few services to manage cloud costs such as Cost Explorer, AWS Budgets, AWS Cost and Usage Report (CUR), Reserved Instances Recommendation and Reporting, and EC2 Rightsizing Recommendations. But, it’s important to note that while many CFM tools are free to use, there can be some costs associated with labor to build ongoing use of these tools and continuous organizational processes – it may be in your best interest to look into a tool that can optimize costs on an ongoing basis. Ensure your people and/or tools are able to scale applications to address new demands.
By using the framework to evaluate and implement your cloud financial management practices, you’ll not only achieve cost savings, but more importantly, you’ll see business value increase across operational resilience, staff productivity and business agility.
Whether you’re new to public cloud altogether or already use one provider and are interested in trying another, you may be interested in a comparison of the AWS vs Azure vs Google free tier. The big three cloud providers – AWS, Azure and Google Cloud – each have a free tier available that’s designed to give users the cloud experience without all the costs. They include free trial versions of numerous services so users can test out different products and learn how they work before they make a huge commitment. While they may only cover a small environment, it’s a good way to learn more about each cloud provider. For all of the cloud providers, the free trials are available to only new users.
AWS Free Tier Offerings
AWS free tier includes more than 60 products. There are two different types of free options that are available depending on the product used: always free and 12 months free. To help customers get started on AWS, the services that fall under the free 12-months are for new trial customers and give customers the ability to use the products for free (up to a specific level of usage) for one year from the date the account was created. Keep in mind that once the free 12 months are up, your services will start to be charged at the normal rate. Be prepared and review this checklist of things to do when you outgrow the AWS free tier.
Azure Free Tier Offerings
The Azure equivalent of a free tier is referred to as a free account. As a new user in Azure, you’re given a $200 credit that has to be used in the first 30 days after activating your account. When you’ve used up the credit or 30 days have expired, you’ll have to upgrade to a paid account if you wish to continue using certain products. Ensure that you have a plan to reduce Azure costs in place. If you don’t need the paid products, there’s also the always free option.
Some of the ways people choose to use their free account are to gain insights from their data, test and deploy enterprise apps, create custom mobile experiences and more.
Google Cloud Free Tier Offerings
The Google Cloud Free Tier is essentially an extended free trial that gives you access to free cloud resources so you can learn about Google Cloud services by trying them on your own.
The Google Cloud Free Tier has two parts – a 90 day free trial with a $300 credit to use with any Google Cloud services and always free, which provides limited access to many common Google Cloud resources, free of charge. Google Cloud gives you a little more time with your credit than Azure, you get the full 90 days of the free trial to use your credit. Unlike free trials from the other cloud providers, Google does not automatically charge you once the trial ends – this way you’re guaranteed that the free tier is actually 100% free. Keep in mind that your trial ends after 90 days or once you’ve exhausted the $300 credit. Any usage beyond the free monthly usage limits are covered by the $300 free credit – you must upgrade to a paid account to continue using Google Cloud.
Free Tier Limitations
It’s important to note that the always-free services vary widely between the cloud providers and there are usage limitations. Keep in mind the cloud providers’ motivations: they want you to get attached to the services so you start paying for them. So, be aware of the limits before you spin up any resources, and don’t be surprised by any charges.
In AWS, when your free tier expires or if your application use exceeds the free tier limits, you pay standard, pay-as-you-go service rates. Azure and Google both offer credits for new users that start a free trial, which are a handy way to set a spending limit. However, costs can get a little tricky if you aren’t paying attention. Once the credits have been used you’ll have to upgrade your account if you wish to continue using the products. Essentially, the credit that was acting as a spending limit is automatically removed so whatever you use beyond the free amounts, you will now have to pay for. In Google Cloud, there is a cap on the number of virtual CPUs you can use at once – and you can’t add GPUs or use Windows Server instances.
For 12 months after you upgrade your account, certain amounts of popular products are free. After 12 months, unless decommissioned, any products you may be using will continue to run, and you’ll be billed at the standard pay-as-you-go rates.
Another limitation is that commercial software and operating system licenses typically aren’t available under the free tiers.
These offerings are “use it or lose it” – if you don’t use all your credits or utilize all your usage, there will be no rollover into future months.
Popular Services, Products, and Tools to Check Out for Free
AWS has 33 products that fall under the one-year free tier – here are some of the most popular:
Amazon EC2 Compute: 750 hours per month of compute time, per month of Linux, RHEL, SLES t2.micro or t3.micro instance and Windows t2.micro or t3.micro instance dependent on region.
Amazon S3 Storage: 5GB of standard storage
Amazon RDS Database: 750 hours per month of db.t2.micro database usage using MySQL, PostgreSQL, MariaDB, Oracle BYOL, or SQL Server, 20 GB of General Purpose (SSD) database storage and 20 GB of storage for database backups and DB Snapshots.
For the always-free option, you’ll find a number of products as well, some of these include:
AWS Lambda: 1 million free compute requests per month and up to 3.2 million seconds of compute time per month.
Amazon DynamoDB: 25 GB of database storage per month, enough to handle up to 200M requests per month.
Amazon CloudWatch: 10 custom metrics and alarms per month, 1,000,000 API requests, 5GB of Log Data Ingestion and Log Data Archive and 3 Dashboards with up to 50 metrics.
Azure has 19 products that are free each month for 12 months – here are some of the most popular:
Linux and Windows virtual machines: 750 hours (using B1S VM) of compute time
Managed Disk Storage: 64 GB x 2 (P6 SSD)
Blob Storage: 5GB (LRS hot block)
File Storage: 5GB (LRS File Storage)
SQL databases: 250 GB
For their always free offerings, you’ll find even more popular products – here are a few:
Azure Kubernetes Service: no charge for cluster management, you only pay for the virtual machines and the associated storage and networking resources consumed.
Azure DevOps: 5 users for open source projects and small projects (with unlimited private Git repos). For larger teams, the cost ranges from $6-$90 per month.
Azure Cosmos DB (400 RU/s provisioned throughput)
Unlike AWS and Azure, Google Cloud does not have a 12 months free offerings. However, Google Cloud does still have a free tier with a wide range of always free services – some of the most popular ones include:
Google BigQuery: 1 TB of queries and 10 GB of storage per month.
Kubernetes Engine: One zonal cluster per month
Google Compute Engine: 1 f1-micro instance per month only in U.S. regions. 30 GB-months HDD, 5 GB-months snapshot in certain regions and 1 GB of outbound network data from North America to all region destinations per month.
Google Cloud Storage: 5 GB of regional storage per month, only in the US. 5,000 Class A, and 50,000 Class B operations, and 1 GB of outbound network data from North America to all region destinations per month.
Check out these blog posts on free credits for each cloud provider to see how you can start saving: