Why ParkMyCloud is the leader in Automated Cloud Cost Control – It’s About the Platform: 2017 Year in Review

Why ParkMyCloud is the leader in Automated Cloud Cost Control – It’s About the Platform: 2017 Year in Review

2017 was a big year for ParkMyCloud and automated cloud cost control. From working closely with our customers and understanding industry trends, we continued to strengthen and grow our cloud cost control platform, continuously innovating and adding new features to make ParkMyCloud easier to use, more automated, and continue doing what we do best: saving you money on your cloud costs. Here are the highlights of what improved in ParkMyCloud during 2017:

January

Auto-Scheduling for Microsoft Azure

You asked, we answered. After a year of growth and success with optimizing cloud resources for users of Amazon Web Services (AWS), ParkMyCloud broadened its appeal by optimizing and reducing cloud spend for Microsoft Azure. CEO Jay Chapel weighed in, “Support for Azure was the top requested feature, so today’s launch will help us drive even bigger growth during 2017 as we become a go-to resource for DevOps and IT users on all the major cloud service providers.”

February

Single Sign-On

In February, signing into ParkMyCloud became easier than ever with support for single sign-on using SAML. Signing in is simple – use your preferred identity provider for a more streamlined experience, reduce the numbers needed to remember and type in, and use SSO for security by keeping a single point of authentication.

April

Free Tier for ParkMyCloud

This release gave users the option for free cloud optimization using ParkMyCloud – forever. The free tier option was created to support developers who were resorting to writing their own scheduling scripts in order to turn off non-production resources when not in use, saving not only money, but lots of time.

Support for OneLogin for Single Sign-On

ParkMyCloud integrated with OneLogin’s App Catalog marketplace, further simplifying Single Sign-On configuration using SAML 2.0. Benefits included reducing the number of passwords needed to track and allowing administrators to control user access from one place.

May

More support for Single Sign-On

In May, ParkMyCloud made more SSO integrations make signing in easy and simple. You can connect with Okta through the Okta App Network (OAN), Centrify, and with Microsoft Active Directory Federation Services (ADFS). The updates rounded out to six major SSO providers that can be used to connect to ParkMyCloud: ADFS, Azure Active Directory, Google G-Suite, Okta, OneLogin, and Ping Identity.  

June

Support for Google Cloud Platform

In addition to AWS and Azure, ParkMyCloud added support for Google Cloud Platform, making automated cost savings available for all of the ‘big three’ cloud service providers. With the new addition, ParkMyCloud’s continuous cost control platform covered a majority of the $23 billion public cloud market, enabling enterprises to eliminate wasted cloud spend – an estimated $6 billion problem for 2017, projected to become a $17 billion problem by 2020.

Stop/Start for AWS RDS Instances

In June, ParkMyCloud announced that it would now be offering “parking” for AWS RDS instances, allowing users to automatically put database resources on on/off schedules, so they only pay for what they’re actually using. This was the first parking feature on the market to be fully integrated with AWS’s RDS start/stop capability.

July

Notifications via Slack and Email

You asked, we answered (again). This user-requested feature improved the user experience by providing notifications about your environment and ParkMyCloud account via email, Slack, and other webooks. Notifications include information about parking actions, system errors, and more. Additionally, ParkMyCloud’s SlackBot allows users to manage resources and schedules through their Slack channel.

August

Cloud Savings Dashboard

After turning two, ParkMyCloud continued shaping and growing its vision with a new reporting dashboard. This feature made it easy to access reports, providing greater insight information regarding cloud costs, team rosters, and more.

November

Mobile App for Cloud Cost Optimization

In the last two months of 2017, ParkMyCloud was not about to slow down. Cloud cost optimization reached a new level with the addition of the new ParkMyCloud mobile app. Users are now able to park idle instances directly from their mobile devices. Reduce cloud waste and cut monthly spend by 65% or more, now with even more capability and ease of use.

AWS Utilization Metric Tracking

From this release, ParkMyCloud partnered with CloudWatch to give AWS users resource utilization data for EC2 instances, viewable through customizable heatmaps. The update gives information about how resources are being used, providing necessary information to help ParkMyCloud gear up for its next release coming soon – SmartParking and SmartSizing.

December

Utilization Heatmaps

Building on the November release of static heat maps displaying AWS EC2 utilization metrics, ParkMyCloud used the utilization data to create animated heat maps. This new feature helps users better identify usage patterns over time and create automated parking schedules. Data is displayed and mapped to a sequence of time, in the form of an animated “video.”  

Coming in 2018…

2017 is over, but there’s no end in sight for ParkMyCloud and automated cloud cost control. In addition to all the features we added last year to make cloud cost automation easy, simple, and more available, we have even more in store for our users in 2018. Coming soon, ParkMyCloud will introduce SmartParking, SmartSizing, PaaS ‘parking’, support for AliCloud and more. Stay tuned for another year of updates, new releases, and saving money on cloud costs with ParkMyCloud.

Cloud Computing 101, the Holidays, DevOps Automation and Moscow Mules – How’s that for a mix!?

Cloud Computing 101, the Holidays, DevOps Automation and Moscow Mules – How’s that for a mix!?

I’m back to thinking about Cloud Computing 101, DevOps automation, and the other topics that keep my mind whirring at night – a sure sign that the 2017 holiday season is now officially over. I kicked mine off with an Ugly Sweater Party and wrapped it up with the College BCS games. In between, we had my parents’ 50th wedding anniversary (congrats to them), work-related holiday functions, Christmas with family and friends, New Years Eve with friends, and even chucked in some work and skiing. My liver needs a break but I love those Moscow Mules! Oh, and I have a Fitbit now to tell me how much I sit on my arse all day and peck away at this damn laptop – thanks kids, love you :).

What does this have to do with the cloud, cost control, DevOps and ParkMyCloud? At the different functions and events I went to, people who know me and what we do here at ParkMyCloud asked how business was going. In short, it’s great! In case you didn’t notice, the public cloud is growing, and fast. According to this recent article in Forbes, IaaS is growing 36% year on year – giddy up! Enterprises all over the world use ParkMyCloud to automate cloud cost control as part of their DevOps process. In fact we have customers in 20+ countries now. And people from companies like Sysco Foods rave about the ease of use and cost savings provided by the platform.

Now, when I talked to folks who don’t know what we do or what the cloud is, it’s a whole different discussion. For example, here’s a conversation I had at a party with Lindsey – a fictitious name to protect the innocent (or perhaps it’s USA superstar skier Lindsey Vonn… you will never know.) I like to call this conversation and ones like it “Cloud 101.”

Lindsey: “Hey Jay, how’s it going?”

Jay: “Awesome, great to see you Lindsey. Staying fit I see. How’s the family?” (of course I am holding my Mule in my copper mug – love it!)

Blah blah blah – now to the good stuff.

Lindsey: “So what do you do now?”

Jay: “Do you know what the cloud is?”

Lindsey: “You mean like iTunes?”

Jay: “Sort of. You know all those giant buildings you see when driving around here in Ashburn (VA)? Those buildings are full of servers that run the apps that you use in everyday life. Do you use the Starbucks app?”

Lindsey: “Yes – I’m addicted to Peppermint Mochas.”

Jay: “I am an Iced Venti Skim Chai Tea person myself. So the servers in those data centers are what power the cloud, Starbucks develops apps in the cloud, servers cost money when they’re running, just like the lights in your house. And like the lights in your house, those development servers don’t need to run all the time – only when people are actually using them. So we help companies like Starbucks turn them off when they are not being used. In short, we help companies save money in the cloud.”

Side note to Starbucks — maybe if you used ParkMyCloud to save on your cloud costs with Microsoft and AWS you could stop raising the price of my Iced Venti Skim Chai Tea Latte… just a thought.

It’s thanks to all our customers and partners that I’m able to have this Cloud Computing 101 conversation and include ParkMyCloud in it – with a special thanks to the “Big 3” cloud service providers – AWS, Azure and Google Cloud. Without them, we would not exist as there would not be a cloud to optimize. Kind of like me without my parents, so glad they came together.

Looking ahead to the rest of 2018, we will have lots to write about here at ParkMyCloud — multi-cloud is trending up, automated cloud cost control is trending up, and DevOps will make this all more efficient. And ParkMyCloud will introduce SmartParking, SmartSizing, support for AliCloud and more. It’s all about action and automation baby. Game of Thrones better be back in 2018, too.

ParkMyCloud’s Top 5 Blog Posts of 2017

ParkMyCloud’s Top 5 Blog Posts of 2017

Before we ring in the new year, ParkMyCloud is taking a look back at 2017. We get a lot of great feedback on our blogs so we decided to summarize our top 5 blog posts, as indicated by our readers (views and shares). In case you missed them, please take a moment and enjoy our most popular posts of 2017!  

Azure vs AWS 2017: Is Azure really surpassing AWS?

Azure vs AWS – what’s the deal? After both cloud providers reported their quarterly earnings at the same time, speculation grew as to whether Azure might have a shot at outpacing Amazon. Provocative headlines teased the idea that Azure is catching up with AWS, making it a great opportunity to compare two out of the ‘big three’ providers. While it may seem like AWS is the one to beat, this blog examines whether Azure is catching up, where they are gaining ground, and why the debate even matters.

AWS vs Google Cloud Pricing – A Comprehensive Look

When it comes to comparing cloud providers, a look at pricing is not only helpful, it’s imperative. AWS and Google Cloud Platform (GCP) use different terminology for their instances, different categories of compute sizing, and take marketing liberties in describing their offerings. To make matters even more confusing, each provider takes a different approach to pricing, charging you by the hour in some cases or by the minute in others, and both having minimums. This blog breaks down all of the jargon and gives you valuable insight into how AWS and GCP are charging you on their monthly cloud bill.

The Cloud Waste Problem That’s Killing Your Business (And What To Do About It)

As enterprises continue shifting to the cloud, service providers like AWS, GCP, Azure, and more offer cloud services as a valuable utility for cost savings. However, as a utility, the cloud has serious potential for waste if not used optimally. What is “cloud waste” and where does it come from? What are the consequences? What can you do to reduce it? This blog answers those burning questions and tells you how to prevent waste and optimize your cloud spend.

Start and Stop RDS Instances – and Schedule with ParkMyCloud

When Amazon announced the release of start and stop RDS instances, AWS users finally had the ability to ‘turn off’ their RDS instances and save money on their cloud bill – nice! However, they would still be charged for provisioned storage, manual snapshots, and automated backup storage. What if there was a solution to starting and stopping RDS instances on an automated schedule, ensuring that they’re not left running when not needed? This blog explains how ParkMyCloud offers automated cost control on a schedule, saving you even more on your monthly cloud bill.

Why We Love the AWS IoT Button

We talk a lot about how ParkMyCloud can save you money on your cloud bill, because we can, but we also love to share the exciting, fun, and innovative offerings that the could brings. The AWS IoT button is a device like no other. You can program it to integrate with any internet-connected device, opening up a whole world of possibilities for what you can do with it. Make a remote control for Netflix, brew coffee in the morning without getting out of bed, or place a takeout order for lunch, all with the push of a button. This blog tells you about how the button was created, how to use it, and some ways that creative developers are using the AWS IoT button.

To another great year…

As we wrap up 2017, the ParkMyCloud team is especially thankful to those of you who have made our blog and our Cloud Cost Control platform successful. We look forward to another great year of keeping up with the cloud, sharing our posts, and of course, saving you money on your cloud bill.

Cheers to 2018! Happy New Year from the ParkMyCloud team and keep an eye open for SmartParking and several great announcements in early January.    

Spot Instance Hibernation – What It Means For You

Spot Instance Hibernation – What It Means For You

At AWS re:Invent 2017, one of the announcements that was made is that spot instance hibernation is now available. This change to how AWS spot instances works can mean some tweaks to how you approach this instance type. Let’s explore the ramifications of this and see what it means for you and your infrastructure.

What are Spot Instances?

When you use a cloud provider like AWS, they run data centers so you don’t have to. In doing so, those data centers have similar side effects as traditional on-prem deployments, including spare compute power when utilization is low. AWS decided to let free market forces work to their advantage by offering these spare resources at auction-style prices.

How this worked in practice (prior to this recent hibernation announcement) involved naming your bid price for how much you were willing to pay for an EC2 instance. Once the price of a spot instance went below your bid price, your instance started up and began doing work. Later, when the cost was above your bid price, your instance would be terminated.

Typical Spot Instance Use Cases

As you can tell, spot instances introduce a different way of thinking about your resources.  There are some use cases that don’t make any sense for spot instances, but others that can work well. For instance, high-performance computing scenarios that need a lot of machines for a short period of time can work well with spot instances, as long as the result isn’t extremely urgent. Another possibility is batch processing, like video conversions or scientific analysis, which can typically be done in off-hours without a human present to manually tweak things.

Hibernation vs. Termination

As mentioned above, the loss of a spot instance used to result in termination of the instance, regardless of the data or state of the machine. With Amazon’s recent announcement, you can now have spot instances hibernate instead. This means the system’s memory will be saved to the root EBS volume, then reloaded when the machine is resumed. It’s like time travel, but for your cloud infrastructure!

From a practical perspective, this can change how you approach spot instances. The main benefit is that you don’t have to prepare for sudden termination of your virtual machine, so more workloads could use spot instances with less preparation. The downside to this is that while your workload will eventually finish, you can’t quite be sure of when.

Spot Instances vs. Parking Schedules

The “not being sure when” part is the big differentiator between spot instance hibernation versus on-demand EC2 instances with parking schedules applied via ParkMyCloud. This new hibernation features means lots of benefits and cost savings, but introduces a nebulous time frame that tends to make developers (and executives) nervous. By utilizing known parking schedules that are automatically applied to instances, the cost savings can be quite comparable while maintaining business-hour uptime. The additional flexibility of manual or automated overrides via ParkMyCloud’s UI or API can mean all the difference to your cloud infrastructure team and the application owners who are running these workloads.

AWS claims that you can save up to 90% on your instance costs with spot instances. In the real world, various reports seem to be in the 50%-70% range, based on some stats from large companies like Pinterest and Vimeo. With parking schedules, most development teams turn off systems on nights and weekends, which is around 65% of the time. This means you can get similar savings, but with different timing structures for your use. The best way to save the most is to use a combination, so check out Amazon’s spot instances and try out ParkMyCloud for cost optimization for all workload types!

Amazon’s EC2 Scheduler – How Does it Compare with ParkMyCloud?

Amazon’s EC2 Scheduler – How Does it Compare with ParkMyCloud?

Amazon recently announced updates to their EC2 scheduler, responding to the already-answered question: “How do I automatically start and stop my Amazon EC2 instances?”

Been there, done that. ParkMyCloud has been scheduling instances and saving our customers 65% or more on their monthly cloud bills from Amazon, Azure, and Google since 2015. It looks like Amazon is stepping up to the plate with their EC2 scheduler, but are they?

The premise is simple: pay for what you use. It’s what we’ve been saying all along – cloud services are like any other utility (electricity, water, gas) – you should use them only when needed to avoid paying more than necessary. You wouldn’t leave your lights on all night, so why leave your instances running when you’re not using them?

Until now, Amazon had basic scripting suggestions for starting and stopping your instances. With the EC2 scheduler, you’re getting instructions for how to configure a custom start and stop scheduler for your EC2 instances. Implementing the solution will require some work on your part, but will inevitably reduce costs. Welcome to the club, Amazon? Sort of, not really.

EC2 Scheduler vs ParkMyCloud

While the EC2 scheduler sounds good, we think ParkMyCloud is better, and not just because we’re biased. We took a look at the deployment guide for the EC2 scheduler and noticed a few things we offer that Amazon still doesn’t

  • This solution requires knowledge and operation of DynamoDB, Lambda, CloudWatch custom metrics, and Cloudformation templates, including Python scripting and Cloudformation coding.
    • None of that is required with our simple, easy-to-use platform. You don’t need a developer background to use ParkMyCloud, in fact you can use your mobile phone (insert link) or tablet.
  • There’s no UI, so it’s not obvious which instances are on what schedules.
    • ParkMyCloud has a simple UI with an icon driven operational dashboard and reporting so you can easily see and manage not only your AWS resources in a single-pane but your Azure and Google resources as well.
  • Modifications require code changes and CloudFormation deployments, including simple overrides of schedules.
    • Again, ParkMyCloud is easy to use, no coding or custom scripting required. Users can also temporarily override schedules if they need to use an instance on short notice, but will only have access to the resources you grant. And you can use our API and Policy Engine to automate scheduling as part of your DevOps process.
  • No SSO, reporting, notifications
    • Check, check, check. Did we mention that ParkMyCloud added some new features recently? You can now see resource utilization data for EC2 instances, viewable through animated heatmaps.
  • Doesn’t have SmartParking – automated parking recommendations based on usage data.
    • We do.
  • You cannot “snooze” (temporarily override) schedules on parked instances. You would have to do that manually through the AWS interface.
    • You can snooze schedules in ParkMyCloud with a button click.
  • Doesn’t work with Azure or Google.
    • We do.
  • Doesn’t park ASG
    • We do.
  • No Slack integration.
    • We do.

Conclusion

Amazon – nice try.

If you’re looking for an alternative to writing your own scripts (which we’ve known for a long time is not the best answer), you’re purely using AWS and EC2 instances, and are comfortable with all the PaaS offerings mentioned, then you might be okay with the EC2 scheduler. The solution works, although it comes with a lot of the same drawbacks that custom scripting has when compared to ParkMyCloud.

If you’re using more than just EC2 instances or even working with multiple providers, if you’re looking for a solution where you don’t need to be scripting, and if you’d prefer an automated tool that will cut your cloud costs with ease of use, reporting, and parking recommendations, then it’s a no-brainer. Give ParkMyCloud a try.

New in ParkMyCloud: Visualize AWS Usage Data Trends

We are excited to share the latest release in ParkMyCloud: animated heat map displays. This builds on our previous release of static heat maps displaying AWS EC2 instance utilization metrics from CloudWatch. Now, this utilization data is animated to help you better identify usage patterns over time and create automated parking schedules.

The heatmaps will display data from a sequence of weeks, in the form of an animated “video”, letting you see patterns of usage over a period of time. You can take advantage of this feature to better plan ParkMyCloud parking schedules based on your actual instance utilization.

Here is an example of an animated heatmap, which allows you to visualize when instances are used over a period of eight weeks:

The latest ParkMyCloud update also includes:

  • CloudWatch data collection improvements to reduce the number of API calls required to pull instance utilization metrics data
  • Various user interface improvements to a number of screens in the ParkMyCloud console.

As noted in our last release, utilization data also provides the necessary information that will allow ParkMyCloud to make optimal parking and rightsizing recommendations (SmartParking) when this feature is released next month, part of our ongoing efforts to do what we do best – save you money, automatically.

AWS users who sign up now can take advantage of the latest release as we ramp up for automated SmartParking. In order to give you the most optimal cost control over your cloud bill, start your ParkMyCloud trial today to collect several weeks’ worth of CloudWatch data, track your usage patterns, and get recommendations as soon as the SmartParking feature becomes available in a few weeks.

If you are an existing customer, be sure to update your AWS policies to enable ParkMyCloud to access your AWS CloudWatch data. Detailed instructions can be found in our support portal.

Feedback? Anything else you’d like to see ParkMyCloud do? Let us know