How to Use an AWS EDP for Discounted Cloud Resources

How to Use an AWS EDP for Discounted Cloud Resources

Lately, many of our AWS customers (especially those purchasing through the AWS marketplace) have mentioned that they are using an AWS EDP, which stands for Amazon Web Services Enterprise Discount Program. Essentially, this is AWS’s way to provide enterprises a discount off its services based on a volume (consumption) commitment.

How does an AWS EDP work?

A simple application of an AWS EDP would work as follows: for the next 3 years, you commit to spend $5MM on AWS services, and receive a 13% discount. Even if you don’t spend $5MM you still owe them $5MM, and of course if you go over you would get billed for the overage.

AWS’s website does not provide a lot of information about these agreements. Here’s what they say:  “Customers also have the option to enroll in an Enterprise Agreement with AWS. Enterprise Agreements give customers the option to tailor agreements that best suit their needs. For additional information on Enterprise Agreements please contact your sales representative.”

What Other Agreements Compare to an AWS EDP?

Going back to my days at IBM, we used to generally referred to discount contracts as Enterprise License Agreements (ELAs). An ELA is a software site license that is sold to a large enterprises. It typically allows for unlimited use of a single or multiple software products throughout the organization, although there were often some restrictions and limitations. During my time at IBM, these were sold upfront for a set dollar amount and term, generally 3 to 5 years and usually had a cap on usage, so at some point overages could kick in – which would help with the renegotiation, of course.

Other terms used with a similar concept include Site License, Enterprise Agreement (this is a common Microsoft term – EA), Volume Purchase Agreement (VPA) and All You Can Eat (AYCE). What all of these have in common is that the vendor gets a large revenue/spend commit, and the enterprise gets discounting and flexibility.

How Else can you Get Discounts on AWS?

AWS does provide enterprises with multiple ways to consume its services based on their business needs and get volume discounts. Traditional on-demand instances allow you to pay for capacity by the hour without any long-term commitments or upfront payments.. Reserved instances are ideal for applications with steady-state or predictable usage and can provide up to a 75% discount compared to on-demand pricing. And of course they promote scale groups, spot instances, and other optimization efforts to reduce spend and waste but those are more cost control opportunities then they are discounts. Plus, you can always wait for better pricing.

Should You Use an AWS EDP?

Before committing to an AWS EDP, ensure that your organization will consume the amount of resources you are committing too. Keep in mind that this can also include the AWS Marketplace. The third party solutions you can buy on the AWS Marketplace also count against your AWS EDP, and leverage that discount structure — so before completing a third-party transaction, make sure you check the Marketplace to see if the cloud solution you buy is listed there.

 

AWS GovCloud Goes East

AWS GovCloud Goes East

Among several exciting announcements we heard at AWS re:Invent 2018 was one that hit close to our Loudoun County home – the new AWS GovCloud (US-East) Region. Joining GovCloud (US-West), the first of its kind, the East region is the second for AWS GovCloud and the 19th AWS region in the world. This announcement is significant, particularly to the Washington DC area of the east coast, home to the ParkMyCloud headquarters and a significant number of U.S. government departments and agencies.

The US-East region adds three more Availability Zones to AWS GovCloud, doubling the three total that were previously included with the existing infrastructure. This is great news for U.S. customers in the public and commercial sector in highly regulated industries that must meet meet stringent compliance requirements, including those for disaster recovery and continuity of operations. The new region is compatible with EC2, S3, and RDS instance types, among more.

Why does AWS GovCloud matter?

The advantages of scalability, security, and agility in the cloud are alluring. But for customers with sensitive data and strict compliance and security requirements, like government agencies, using the cloud is a tricky process with a huge checklist to follow. To provide the same benefits of cloud services while meeting even the most stringent U.S. government requirements, Amazon designed an isolated cloud region only for those users – AWS GovCloud.

What’s Different in AWS GovCloud?

Think of AWS GovCloud as Amazon’s “gated community.” GovCloud vets all of its government customers and their partners to create secure cloud solutions, meeting compliance requirements for FedRAMP, the DOJ’s Criminal Justice Information Systems (CJIS), U.S. International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR), Export Administration Regulations (EAR), Department of Defense (DoD) Cloud Computing Security Requirements Guide (SRG), FIPS 140-2, IRS-1075, and more. This specialized region allows for customers to host sensitive Controlled Unclassified Information (CUI) that includes data in categories such as agriculture, patent, export, critical infrastructure, immigration, law enforcement, proprietary business info, statistical, tax, financial, and transportation, to name a few. GovCloud is ideal for government agencies at the federal, state, and local level, as well as organizations in regulated industries including financial, technology, energy, healthcare, law enforcement, defense, enterprise, and aerospace.

How do I qualify to be a GovCloud customer?

GovCloud is only available to vetted U.S. entities and root account holders with U.S. citizenship. AWS ensures address compliance in the cloud with network, data, and virtual machines that are isolated from all other AWS cloud regions. GovCloud features a separate identity and access management stack with unique credentials that work only within the AWS GovCloud region. In addition, the region is managed solely by AWS personnel of U.S. citizenship, on U.S. soil, and users get their own separate management console. The region also has endpoints specific to its region, including the option to use designated endpoints, meeting FIPS 100-2 compliance requirements.

Why go GovCloud?

Whether it’s Personally Identifiable Information (PII), patient medical records, financial data, law enforcement data, or other forms of CUI, AWS GovCloud allows users to meet compliance requirements on their cloud journey. Government agencies have an opportunity with Amazon to support mission critical workloads for enterprise applications, high performance computing, big data, storage & disaster recovery. For a U.S. cloud with vetted access, that meets compliance, guards data, improves identity management, protects workloads, and enhances cloud visibility, AWS GovCloud is the way to go.

EC2 Instance Hibernation: Bridging the Gap with Spot

EC2 Instance Hibernation: Bridging the Gap with Spot

Amidst the truckload of announcements from AWS around re:Invent this year, one that caught my attention was the ability to perform EC2 instance hibernation. This isn’t going to be directly applicable to all workloads or all businesses, but it provides a needed way to bridge the gap between On-Demand EC2 and Spot instances. By having this option, it should be easier to go between both compute choices to solve more business cases.

Spot Instances 101

One way AWS helps you save money is by letting you utilize spare compute resources as instances called Spot. There’s a whole economy around Spot Instances, as the price can go up or down based on free resources in AWS data centers. To purchase Spot Instances, you establish your bid price, and if the price of your desired instance goes under the bid, then you get the resources. The biggest catch is that once the price goes above your bid price, your gets stopped in the middle of what it was doing.

This behavior means that you need to have workloads that can be paused. One big consideration is that you don’t want to have time-sensitive workloads operating in this environment, as it may take longer to complete the overall task if the processes keep getting interrupted. This also means that you’ll want to build your subtasks and processes in a way that they can be interrupted without breaking horribly.

Interruptible Workloads On-Demand

Now, with the ability to perform EC2 instance hibernation, the processes that you’ve already made interruptible can run on demand, with you choosing when to pause those workloads. By having this flexibility, you can eliminate the concern of not finishing a task before a desired date that comes with Spot instances, but still have the ability to switch to Spot (or out of Spot) if desired. This combines some of the best aspects of Spot and On-Demand Instances.

In addition to the benefit of workloads completing on your timetable, you can also utilize hibernation to pre-warm EC2 instances that have apps that might take a while to spin up. This can be especially true for memory-intensive applications, as any data that was in memory prior to hibernation will be immediately available upon restart. You could even use this as a workaround to long warm-up times for AWS Lambda functions, as instead of waiting for the Lambda to spin up, your instance could be running your function locally with everything pre-loaded.

EC2 Instance Hibernation: Supercharging Spot

Last year, AWS added the ability to hibernate Spot instances, which changed the game on how you plan your Spot workloads. Now, with EC2 Instance hibernation, you can take your workload management to the next level by having a wider array of options available to you.

This kind of hibernation seems like a great fit for image processing, video encoding, or after-hours high performance computing. Got any other good ideas or use-cases for EC2 instance hibernation? Let us know what you think!

ParkMyCloud Reviews from AWS re:Invent 2018 – “It’s a No Brainer”

ParkMyCloud Reviews from AWS re:Invent 2018 – “It’s a No Brainer”

The ParkMyCloud team is back from a successful AWS re:Invent 2018! It was a busy week for all of us. There was a crowd – more than 50,000 attendees. There was a Skrillex concert. And of course, there was buzz. A few AWS announcements that caught our interest include AWS Outposts, Amazon Timestream, and AWS Lambda Custom Runtimes – but more on our favorites in a later post.

As for ParkMyCloud, we released our new rightsizing functionality and got lots of great feedback.

We also met lots of great people at the booth in the expo hall – prospective ParkMyCloud users, existing and future partners, AWS employees, and of course, our customers! As a SaaS company, events like AWS re:Invent are one of the few times each year that we get to meet our customers in person, and we always have great conversations and learn from their feedback. We asked a few ParkMyCloud customers to tell us what they would tell a prospective user about the platform – here’s what they said.

TJ Victor, Incentive Technology Group

TJ Victor, Linux Systems Administrator at Incentive Technology Group (ITG), has been using ParkMyCloud for four months. Upon seeing a demo of ParkMyCloud, ITG immediately saw the value – “we were pretty much hooked then.”

They implemented ParkMyCloud on one of their biggest projects, and TJ has been convincing managers to implement it for any project that uses EC2 instances. They’ve saved at least $15,000, but TJ notes that that’s in a small environment, and the more instances you have, the more you’ll save.

TJ says, “It’s a wonderful product, I can’t recommend it highly enough, and you make your money back in like a day. It’s seriously that good.”

He adds, “it’s really a no-brainer to use ParkMyCloud.”

Greg Cockburn, Bulletproof

Greg Cockburn is the Chief Cloud Officer at Australian Managed Services Provider Bulletproof. His team found out about ParkMyCloud via our partnership with CloudHealth Technologies, which Bulletproof already used to provide cloud visibility and governance to their customers. They immediately saw value in the platform, and had customers signed up within one day of partnering with ParkMyCloud.

Greg says, “it’s so simple. The interface is really really simple to get up and running. We’ve been able to onboard about three or four customers now, it’s fantastic.”

Greg also appreciates ParkMyCloud’s timely response and support.

Neil Groat, Dealer-FX

Neil Groat is a Senior Cloud Infrastructure Engineer at Dealer-FX, based in Toronto, Canada.

Dealer-FX has been using ParkMyCloud since 2016 to schedule resources to turn off when they’re not needed, which saves them “easily” more than $10,000 per month.

Neil says, “It’s wonderfully easy to just group a number of resources together based on tags, naming, and other conditions. And building the schedules to take care of it for you. The ease of use of the platform is what I like most about ParkMyCloud.”

Thank You for a Successful AWS re:Invent 2018

To everyone we met at AWS re:Invent 2018, thanks for stopping by. To our customers, thanks for your feedback (and if you’d like to give a virtual testimonial in exchange for a hoodie, just email me!) And to AWS, thank you for another great event.

The ParkMyCloud Team at the booth

Five lucky winners of the scratch & win game at the ParkMyCloud booth

Andy shows off the PMC wares

We spotted Lacework’s t-shirts and discovered great minds think alike

Chris and Bill with Corey Quinn of Last Week in AWS

ParkMyCloud CEO Jay Chapel, CloudHealth CEO Tom Axbey, and Eric Beller of CloudHealth enjoying a happy hour

Katy and Bill racing in the Office Chair Grand Prix at re:Play

Skrillex!

We had a great time at re:Invent 2018! Thanks AWS!

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

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

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

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

Predictive Scaling for EC2

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

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

AWS Cost Explorer Forecasting

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

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

CloudWatch Automatic Dashboards

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

Thanks, AWS!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How did you find ParkMyCloud?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Who was responsible for doing that previously?

It was 2-3 people on my team.

It sounds like that took a lot of time.

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

Any other feedback? 

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

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

Sounds great! Thanks!