A few weeks ago at the 2017 AWS re:Invent conference in Las Vegas, we had the opportunity to meet some of our customers at the booth, get their product feedback, and a few shared their ParkMyCloud reviews as video testimonials. As part of our ongoing efforts to save money on cloud costs with a fully automated, simple-to-use SaaS platform, we rely on our customers to give us insight into how ParkMyCloud has helped them. Here’s what they had to say:
TJ McAteer, Prosight Specialty Insurance
“It’s all very well documented. We got it set up within an afternoon with our trial, and then it was very easy to differentiate and show that value – and that’s really the most attractive piece of it.”
As the person responsible for running the cloud engineering infrastructure at ProSight Specialty Insurance, ParkMyCloud had everything TJ was looking for. Not only that, but it was easy to use, well managed, and demonstrated its value right away.
James LaRocque, Decision Resources Group
“What’s nice about it is the ability to track financials of what you’re actually saving, and open it up to different team members to be able to suspend it from the parked schedules and turn it back on when needed.”
As a Senior DevOps engineer at Decision Resources Group, James LaRocque discovered ParkMyCloud at the 2016 AWS re:Invent and has been a customer ever since. He noted that while he could have gone with scripting, ParkMyCloud offered the increased benefits of financial tracking and user capabilities.
“The return on investment is huge.”
Kurt Brochu, Sysco Foods
“We had instant gratification as soon as we enabled it.”
Kurt Brochu, Senior Manager of the Cloud Enablement Team at Sysco Foods, was immediately pleased to see ParkMyCloud saving money on cloud costs as soon as they put it into action. Once he was able to see how much they could save on their monthly cloud bill, the next step was simple.
“We were able to save over $500 in monthly spend by just using it against one team. We are rolling out to 14 other teams over the course of the next 2 weeks.”
Mark Graff, Dolby Labs
“The main reason why we went for it was that it was easy to give our users the ability to start and stop instances without having to give them access to the console.”
Mike Graff, the Senior Infrastructure Manager at Dolby Labs, became a ParkMyCloud customer thanks to one of his engineers in Europe.
“We just give them credentials, they can hop into ParkMyCloud and go to start and stop instances. You don’t have to have any user permissions in AWS – that was a big win for us.”
We continue to innovate and improve our platform’s cloud cost management capabilities with the addition of SmartParking recommendations, SmartSizing, Alicloud and more. Customer feedback is essential to making sure that not only are we saving our customers time and money, but also gaining valuable insight into what makes ParkMyCloud a great tool.
If you use our platform, we’d love to get a ParkMyCloud review from you and hear about how ParkMyCloud has helped your business – there’s a hoodie in it for you! Please feel free to participate in the comments below or with a direct email to firstname.lastname@example.org
Today, we’re excited to bring you SmartParkingTM – automatic, custom on/off schedules for individual resources based on AWS CloudWatch metrics!
ParkMyCloud customers have always appreciated parking recommendations based on keywords found in their instance names and tags – for example, ParkMyCloud recommends that an instance tagged “dev” can be parked, as it’s likely not needed outside of a Monday-Friday workday.
Now, SmartParking will look for patterns in your utilization data from AWS CloudWatch, and create recommend schedules for each instance to turn them off when they are typically idle. This minimizes idle time to maximize savings on your resources.
With SmartParking, you eliminate the extra step of checking in with your colleagues to make sure the schedules you’re putting on their workloads doesn’t interfere with their needs. Now you can receive automatic recommendations to park resources when you know they won’t be used.
SmartParking schedules are provided as recommendations, which you can then click to apply. This release supports SmartParking for AWS resources, with plans to add Azure and Google Cloud SmartParking.
Instance utilization report from AWS CloudWatch data
SmartParking schedule created from instance utilization data
Customize Your Recommendations like your 401K
Different users will have different preferences about what they consider “parkable” times for an instance. So, like your investment portfolios, you can choose to receive SmartParking schedules that are “conservative”, “balanced”, or “aggressive”. And like an investment, a bigger risk comes with the opportunity for a bigger reward.
If you’d like to prioritize the maximum savings amount, then choose aggressive SmartParking schedules. You will park instances – and therefore save money – for the most time, with the “risk” of occasional inconvenience by having something turned off when someone needs it. Your users can always log in to ParkMyCloud and override the schedule with the “snooze button” if they need to use the instance when it’s parked.
On the other hand, if you would like to ensure that your instances are never parked when they might be needed, choose a conservative SmartParking schedule. It will only recommend parked times when the instance is never used. Choose “balanced” for a happy medium.
What People are Saying: Save More, Easier than Ever
Several existing ParkMyCloud customers have previewed the new functionality. “ParkMyCloud has helped my team save so much on our AWS bill already, and SmartParking will make it even easier,” said Tosin Ojediran, DevOps Engineer at a FinTech company. “The automatic schedules will save us time and make sure our instances are never running when they don’t need to be.”
Already a ParkMyCloud user? Log in to your account to try out the new SmartParking. Note that you will need to have AWS CloudWatch metrics enabled for several weeks in order for us to see your usage trends and make recommendations. If you haven’t already, you will need to update your AWS policy.
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 – 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
Doesn’t park ASG
No Slack integration.
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.
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!