How to Get the Cheapest Cloud Computing

How to Get the Cheapest Cloud Computing

Are you looking for the cheapest cloud computing available? Depending on your current situation, there are a few ways you might find the least expensive cloud offering that fits your needs.

If you don’t currently use the public cloud, or if you’re willing to have infrastructure in multiple clouds, you’re probably looking for the cheapest cloud provider. If you have existing infrastructure, there are a few approaches you can take to minimize costs and ensure they don’t spiral out of control.

Find the Cloud Provider that Offers the Cheapest Cloud Computing for Your Needs

There are a variety of small cloud providers that attempt to compete by dropping their prices. If you work for a small business and prefer a no-frills experience, perhaps one of these is right for you.

However, there’s a reason that the “big three” cloud providers – Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud dominate the market. They offer a wide range of product lines, and are continually innovating. They have a low frequency of outages, and their scale requires a straightforward onboarding process and plenty of documentation. 

Whatever provider you decide on, ensure that you’ll have access to all the services you need – is there a computing product, storage, databases? If you want to use containers or have the option for serverless, how do those products fit in? How good is the customer support? Does your company directly compete with the provider – for example, with Amazon’s retail arm? (You may not care, but some companies definitely do.) 

While there is no one “cheapest” cloud provider among the major options, you should still compare to ensure you’re getting the best cloud prices for the services you’ll use most. For more information about the three major providers’ pricing, please see the following cloud computing cost comparisons:

A note on the idea of vendor lock-in: if you are already purchasing cloud services from a cloud service provider, you may be worried that you’re “locked in” to that provider. What we see in practice is a little different: with on-demand flexibility and more opportunity than ever to practice multi-cloud, companies shouldn’t really worry about vendor lock-in when it comes to public cloud.

How to Get the Cheapest Cloud Computing from Your Current Provider

Of course, whether or not you’re concerned about vendor lock-in, you should ensure that you’re getting the most efficient cloud computing cost available to you. That means optimizing your options for the products you use most. 

Here’s a brief rundown of things you should do to ensure you’re getting the cheapest cloud computing possible from your current provider.

Use Reserved Instances for Production Environments

All of the major cloud providers offer a pricing option for Reserved Instances – that is, if you commit to use capacity over time, you can pay a discounted price.  Reserved instances can save money – as long as you use them the right way. It’s important to focus on workloads with 24×7 demand – i.e., production workloads – for Reserved Instances. You will get the best price for the longest commitment. Of course, each cloud provider structures this option differently. Here are our guides to each:

Only Pay for What You Actually Need

There are a few common ways that users inadvertently waste money and throw away the option for the cheapest public cloud bill, such as using larger instances than they need, and running development/testing instances 24/7 rather than only when they’re needed. To pay for what you need, ensure that all of your instances are “rightsized” to the size that best matches the workload. You should also use on/off schedules so your non-production resources used for development, testing, and staging are turned off nights and weekends. 

ParkMyCloud makes it easy to automated both of those things and reduce wasted cloud spend – try it out.

Take Advantage of Other Discounted Pricing Options

There are a number of other discounted pricing and purchasing options offered by the major cloud providers to help you get the cheapest cloud services. 

  • AWS Spot Instances – the best way to get the cheapest EC2 instance. This option offers heavy discounts for excess infrastructure, which can be reclaimed for other workloads at any time.
  • Azure Low Priority VMs – similar to AWS’s spot instances, although there is a fixed discount for Azure’s offering, and a few other operational differences.
  • Google Cloud Preemptible VMs – Google Cloud’s preemptible VMs are another similar option.
  • Google Cloud Sustained Use Discounts – this is a built-in pricing mechanism for Google users that discounts pricing the more you run each server.
  • Azure Dev/Test Pricing – a discounting option specifically for workloads used for development and testing. 

Ask

It never hurts to contact your provider and ask if there’s anything you could be doing to get a cheaper price. If you use Microsoft Azure, you may want to sign up for an Enterprise License Agreement, or if you’re on AWS, ask your rep about the Enterprise Discount Program. Or maybe you qualify for AWS startup credits

Get Credit for Your Efforts

While finding the cheapest cloud computing is, of course, beneficial to your organization’s common good, there’s no need to let your work in spending reduction go unnoticed. Make sure that you track your organization’s spending and show your team where you are reducing spend.

ParkMyCloud users have a straightforward way to do this. You can not only create and customize reports of your cloud spending and savings, but you can also schedule these reports to be emailed out. Users are already putting this to work by having savings reports automatically emailed to their bosses and department heads, to ensure that leadership is aware of the cost savings gained… and so users can get credit for their efforts.

AWS vs Google Cloud Pricing – A Comprehensive Look

AWS vs Google Cloud Pricing – A Comprehensive Look

Since ParkMyCloud provides cost control for Amazon Web Services (AWS) along with Google Cloud Platform (GCP) resources, we thought it might be useful to compare AWS vs Google Cloud pricing. Additionally, we will take a look at the terminology and billing differences. There are other “services” involved, such as networking, storage and load balancing, when looking at your overall bill. I am going to be focused mainly on compute charges in this article.  

Note: a version of this post was originally published in 2017. It has been completely rewritten and updated to include the latest AWS pricing and GCP pricing as of October 2019.

AWS and GCP Terminology Differences

As mentioned before, in AWS, the compute service is called “Elastic Compute Cloud” (EC2). The virtual servers are called “Instances”.

In GCP, the service is referred to as “Google Compute Engine” (GCE). The servers are called also called “instances”. 

A notable difference in terminology are GCP’s there are “preemptible” and non-preemptible instances.  Non-preemptible instances are the same as AWS “on demand” instances.  

Preemptible instances are similar to AWS “spot” instances, in that they are a lot less expensive, but can be preempted with little or no notice. GCP preemptible instances can be stopped without being terminated. In November 2017, AWS introduced a similar feature with spot instance hibernation. Flocks of these instances spun up from a snapshot according scaling rules are called “auto scaling groups” in AWS.

The similar concept can be created within GCP using “instance groups”. However, instance groups are really more of a “stack”, which are created using an “instance group template”. As such, they are more closely related to AWS CloudFormation stacks.

AWS vs. GCP Compute Sizing

Both AWS and GCP have a dizzying array of instance sizes to choose from, and doing an apples-to-apples comparison between them can be quite challenging. These predefined instance sizes are based upon number of virtual cores, amount of virtual memory and amount of virtual disk.

They have different categories.

AWS offers:

  • Free tier – inexpensive, burst performance (t3 family)
  • General purpose (m4/m5 family)
  • Compute optimized (c5 family)
  • GPU instances (p3 family)
  • FPGA instances (f1 family)
  • Memory optimized (x1, r5 family)
  • Storage optimized (i3, d2, h1 family)

GCP offers the following predefined types:

  • Free tier – inexpensive, burst performance (f1/g1 family)
  • Standard, shared core (n1-standard family)
  • High memory (n1-highmem family)
  • High CPU (n1-highCPU family)

However, GCP also allows you to make your own custom machine types, if none of the predefined ones fit your workload. You pay for uplifts in CPU/Hr and memory GiB/Hr. You can also add GPUs and premium processors as uplifts.

With respect to pricing, this is how the two seem to compare, by looking at some of the most common “work horses” and focusing on CPU, memory and cost.  

The bottom line:

In general, for most workloads AWS is less expensive on a CPU/Hr basis. For compute intensive workloads, GCP instances are generally less expensive

Also, as you can see from the table, both providers charge uplifts for different operating systems, and those uplifts can be substantial. You really need to pay attention to the fine print. For example, GCP charges a 4 core minimum for all their SQL uplifts (yikes!). And, in the case of Red Hat Enterprise Licensing (RHEL) in GCP, they charge you a 1 hour minimum for the uplifts and in 1 hour increments after that. (We’ll talk more about how the providers charge you in the next section.)

AWS vs. Google Cloud Platform Pricing – Examining the Differences

Cost per hour is only one aspect of the cloud pricing equation, though. To better understand your monthly bill, you must also understand how the cloud providers actually charge you. AWS prices their compute time by the hour, but charges by the second, with a 1 minute minimum.

Google Compute Engine pricing is also listed by the hour for each instance, but they charge you by the minute, rounded up to the nearest minute, with a 10 minute minimum charge. So, if you run for 1 minute, you get charged for 10 minutes. However, if you run for 61 minutes, you get charged for 61 minutes. 

AWS Reserved Instances vs GCP Committed Use

Both providers offer deeper discounts off their normal pricing, for “predictable” workloads that need to run for sustained periods of time, if you are willing to commit to capacity consumption upfront. AWS offers Reserved Instances. Google offers Committed Use Discounts.  Both involve agreeing to pay for the life of the reservation or commitment, though some have you pay up-front versus paying per month. This model of payment can get you some significant discounts over on-demand workloads, but can limit your flexibility as a trade-off. Check out our other posts on AWS Reserved Instances and Google Committed Use Discounts.

GCP Sustained Use Discounts

In addition to the Committed Use Discounts, GCP also has a unique offering with no direct parallel in AWS: Sustained Use Discounts. These provide you with an automatic discount if you run a workload for more that 25% of the month, with bigger discounts for more usage. These discounts can save up to 30% based on your use and instance size. The Google Cloud Pricing Calculator can help figure out how much this will affect your GCP costs.

Conclusion

If you are new to public cloud, once you get past all the confusing jargon, the creative approaches to pricing and the different ways providers charge for usage, the actual cloud services themselves are much easier to use than legacy on-premise services.

The public cloud services do provide much better flexibility and faster time-to-value. 

When comparing AWS vs. Google Cloud pricing, AWS EC2 on-demand pricing may on the surface appear to be more competitive than GCP pricing for comparable compute engines. However, when you examine specific workloads and factor in Google’s approach to charging for CPU/Hr time and their use of Sustained Use Discounts, GCP may actually be less expensive. 

In the meantime, ParkMyCloud will continue to help you turn off non-production cloud resources, when you don’t need them and help save you a lot of money on your monthly cloud bills, regardless of which public cloud provider you use.

Like this post? See also: How much do the differences between cloud providers actually matter? 

What is Google Cloud Anthos’ promise for hybrid & multi-cloud environments?

What is Google Cloud Anthos’ promise for hybrid & multi-cloud environments?

Earlier this year at the Google Cloud Next event, Google announced the launch of its new managed service offering for multi-cloud environments, Google Cloud Anthos. 

The benefits of public cloud, like cost savings and higher levels of productivity, are often presented as an “all or nothing” choice to enterprises. However, with this offering, Google is acknowledging that multi-cloud environments are the reality as organizations see the value of expanding their cloud platform portfolios. Anthos is Google’s answer to the challenges enterprises face when adopting cloud solutions alongside their on-prem environments. It aims to enable customers to evolve into a hybrid and multi-cloud environment to take advantage of scalability, flexibility, and global reach. In the theory of “write once, run anywhere”, Anthos also promises to give developers the ability to build once and run apps anywhere on their multi-cloud environments.

Anthos embraces open-source technology

Google Cloud Anthos is based on the Cloud Services Platform that Google introduced last year. Google’s vision is to integrate the family of cloud services together. 

Anthos is generally available on both Google Cloud Platform (GCP) with Google Kubernetes Engine (GKE) and data centers with GKE On-Prem. So how does Google aim to deliver on the multi-cloud promise? It embraces open-source technology standards to let you build, manage and run modern hybrid applications on existing on-prem environments or in public cloud. Moreover, Anthos offers a flexible way to shift workloads from third-party clouds, such as Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Microsoft Azure to GCP and vice-versa. This allows users not to worry about getting locked-in to a provider.

As a 100% software solution, Anthos gives businesses operational consistency by running quickly on any existing hardware. Anthos leverages open APIs, giving developers the freedom to modernize. And, it automatically updates with the latest feature updates and security patches, because is based on GKE.

Rapid cloud transformation from Anthos

Google also introduced Migrate for Anthos at Cloud Next, which automates the process of migrating virtual machines (VM) to a container in GKE, regardless of whether the VM is set up on-prem or in the cloud lets users convert workloads directly into containers in GKE. Migrate for Anthos makes the workload portability less difficult both technically and in terms of developer skills when migrating. 

Though most digital transformations are a mix of different strategies, for the workloads that will benefit the most, containers, migrating with Anthos will deliver a fast, smooth path to modernization according to Migrate for Anthos Beta. 

Streamlining multi-cloud management with Anthos

Another piece of the offering is Anthos Config Management, which lets users streamline confirmation so they can create multi-cluster policies out of the box, set and enforce secure role-based access controls, resource quotas, and create namespaces. The capability to automate policy and security also works with their open-source independent service for microservices, Istio.

The management platform also lets users create common configurations for all administrative policies that apply to their Kubernetes clusters both on-prem and cloud. Users can define and enforce configurations globally, validate configurations with the built-in validator that reviews every line of code before it gets to the repository, and actively monitors them.

Expanded Services for Anthos

Google Cloud is expanding its Anthos platform with Anthos Service Mesh and Cloud Run for Anthos serverless capabilities, announced last week and currently in beta. 

The first is Anthos Service Mesh, which is built on Istio APIs, is designed to connect, secure, monitor and manage microservice running in containerized environments, all through a single administrative dashboard that tracks the application’s traffic. This new service is aimed to improve the developer experience by making it easier to manage and troubleshoot the complexities of the multi-cloud environment. 

Another update Google introduced was Cloud Run for Anthos. This managed service for serverless computing allows users to easily run stateless workloads on a fully managed Anthos environment without having to manage those cloud resources. It only charges for access when the application needs resources. Cloud Run for Anthos can run workloads on Google Cloud on on-premises and is limited to Google’s Cloud Platform (GCP) only.

Anthos Compared

Both AWS and Azure have hybrid cloud offerings but are not the same, mostly for one single reason.

AWS Outposts brings native AWS services, infrastructure, and operating models to virtually any data center, co-location space, or on-premises facility, in the same operating idea as Anthos, using the same AWS APIs, tools, and infrastructure across on-prem and the AWS cloud to deliver a seamless and consistent for an AWS hybrid experience.

As an extension of Azure to consistently build and run hybrid applications across their cloud and on-prem environments, Azure Stack delivers a solution for workloads wherever they reside and gives them access to connect to Azure Stack for cloud services.

As you can see, the main difference is that both AWS Outposts and Azure Stack are limited to combining on-premises infrastructure and the respective cloud provider itself, with no support for other cloud providers, unlike Anthos. Google Cloud Anthos manages hybrid multi-cloud environments, not just hybrid cloud environments, making it a unique offering for multi-cloud environment users.  

New: RightSizing Now Generally Available in ParkMyCloud for Data-Driven Cloud Optimization

New: RightSizing Now Generally Available in ParkMyCloud for Data-Driven Cloud Optimization

Exciting news: RightSizing is now generally available in ParkMyCloud! You can now use this method for automated cost optimization alongside scheduling to achieve an optimized cloud bill in AWS, Azure, and Google Cloud. 

How it Works

When you RightSize an instance, you find the optimal virtual machine size and type for its workload. 

Why is this necessary? Cloud providers offer a myriad of instance type options, which can make it difficult to select the right option for the needs of each and every one of your instances. Additionally, users often select the largest size and compute power available, whether it’s because they don’t know their workload needs in advance, don’t see cost as their problem, or “just in case”.

In fact, our analysis of instances being managed in ParkMyCloud showed that 95% of instances were operating at less than 50% average CPU, which means they are oversized and wasting money.

Now with ParkMyCloud’s RightSizing capability, you can quickly and easily – even automatically – resolve these sizing discrepancies to save money. ParkMyCloud uses your actual usage data to make these recommendations, and provides three recommendation options, which can include size changes, family/type changes, and modernization changes. Users can choose to accept these recommendations manually or schedule the changes to occur at a later date.

How Much You Can Save

A single instance change can save 50% or more of the cost. In the example shown here, ParkMyCloud recommends three possible changes for this instance, which would save 40-68% of the cost. 

At scale, the savings potential can be dramatic. For example, one enterprise customer who beta-tested RightSizing found that their RightSizing recommendations added up to $82,775.60 in savings – an average of more than $90 per month/ more than $1,000 per year for every instance in their environment. 

How to Get Started

Are you already using ParkMyCloud? If not, go ahead and register for a free trial. You’ll have full access for 14 days to try out ParkMyCloud in your own environment – including RightSizing.

If you already use ParkMyCloud, you’ll need to make sure you’re subscribed to the Pro or Enterprise tier to have access to this advanced feature. 

Now it’s time to RightSize! Watch this video to see how you can get started in just 90 seconds: 

Happy savings!

New GCP Pricing Options: Google Cloud Capacity Reservations and More Committed Use

New GCP Pricing Options: Google Cloud Capacity Reservations and More Committed Use

Google Cloud recently released a new pricing option: Google Cloud capacity reservations. This new option intended for users with anticipated spikes in usage, such as over holidays or planned backups. It also expanded its Committed Use discount program to apply to more types of resources.

Manish Dalwadi, product manager for Compute Engine, said in Google’s announcement of these releases, “you shouldn’t need an advanced degree in finance to get the most out of your cloud investment.”

We’ve noted Google Cloud’s positioning as “best in customer-first pricing” in previous articles on Sustained Use Discounts and Resource-Based Pricing. However, the new options – particularly capacity reservations – may not be the best example of this.

How Google Cloud Capacity Reservations Work

Google Cloud capacity reservations are a bit different from options we see at the other major cloud providers. They are not a cost-savings plan like the AWS and Azure’s “reserved instance” programs that allow users to pay upfront for lower prices. Instead, they actually reserve capacity, to ensure it’s available when you need it. Use cases include holiday/Black Friday demand, planned organic growth, and backup/disaster recovery.

VMs you have reserved in advance will be billed at the same rate as on-demand. However, other discounts may apply. As you consume reserved VMs, you’ll also get the benefit of any applicable Sustained and Committed Use discounts.

One potential issue is that once you make a reservation, you will continue to consume and be charged for the resources until the reservation expires or you delete it. By default, any instance that matches the reservation configuration will be allocated against the reservation. On the one hand, this can prevent you from having to pay for reserved capacity above what you are using, but this may actually defeat your purpose of trying to have additional guaranteed capacity available. To guarantee the extra capacity for a specific instance even if it is stopped (or “parked” as we like to say), you will need to explicitly set an option when the instance is created. Note that you will still be paying for the reservation if you do not have any running instances that match the reservation.

Another caveat is that “a VM instance can only use a reservation if its properties exactly match the properties of the reservation.“ In other words, you cannot buy a bunch of small reservations and expect that they can be combined into a big reservation, like you can do with certain types of reserved instances from the other cloud providers. This is consistent with the idea of a capacity reservation, rather than a discount program, and is worth keeping in mind.

This is a new avenue for customers to easily commit themselves to spending on resources they may not actually need, so we encourage you to evaluate carefully before reserving capacity and to keep a close watch on your monthly bill and review the cloud waste checklist.

More Committed Use Discounts

Alongside the capacity reservations, Google also announced an expansion of Committed Use Discounts to include GPUs, Cloud TPU Pods, and local SSDs.

Committed Use Discounts are the Google pricing option most analogous to AWS and Azure Reserved Instances. Essentially, you choose how much to purchase in advance for up to a 55% discount. More here: How to Analyze Google Cloud Committed Use Discounts.

Get the Best Pricing for You

Ultimately, Google Cloud pricing fares well on measures of user-friendliness and options for cost savings, but we question if the reserved capacity changes will do anything to improve the readability of the bill. On the other hand, the expansion of Committed Use discounts does provide more savings-in-hand options for customers.

Take a few minutes to ensure you’re not oversizing or spending money on resources that should be turned off, and you’ll be well on your way to an optimized Google Cloud bill.

New: RightSizing Recommendations for AWS and Google Cloud

New: RightSizing Recommendations for AWS and Google Cloud

Today, we’re happy to share the latest in cost optimization: ParkMyCloud now makes RightSizing recommendations for your resources in AWS and Google Cloud.

Optimize Your Cloud Infrastructure with Automated RightSizing

Choosing the right instance type for cloud resources is difficult. The major providers offer a huge range of options, each optimized for different capabilities, and a variety of sizes within each instance family. It can be hard to predict in advance what you’ll need. And indeed, our data shows that 95% of instances are operating at less than 50% average CPU – that is to say, most of them are oversized.

Why does it matter? Oversizing is a huge waste of money. Downsizing by one instance size saves 50% of the cost – and two sizes down saves 75%. You can also save money by modernizing instances. The cloud providers incentivize instance modernization by pricing the newest generations the lowest.

ParkMyCloud will not only recommend but also help you take action to resize your instances, move families, and/or modernize as needed so that you can optimize performance with the lowest cost.

What Else is New?

We’re always enhancing and improving ParkMyCloud to make it work best for you. Here’s what else is new:

What’s up next? Azure RightSizing, scheduled resizing and optimization for container services.

How to Get Started

If you’re new to ParkMyCloud, you’ll want to start with a 14-day free trial. Once you connect to your cloud provider, you’ll be able to start managing your instances. You’ll have access to the full set of Enterprise Tier features for the length of the trial, and after 14 days you can choose the free tier or a more advanced tier.  

To enable RightSizing, both new and current users should contact us as this feature is currently in beta. Once that’s active, go to the Recommendations screen and select the RightSizing tab to see all sizing recommendations, which you can then click to apply. The resource will be resized the next time it’s restarted. It’s that easy!