Sean Brundle, DevOps Engineer at website development specialist Brainjocks, told us about how his team uses ParkMyCloud to manage cloud and DevOps costs.
Hi Sean! Tell us about Brainjocks and what you all do.
Sure. Brainjocks is a web design and development company that utilizes Sitecore, Episerver, and WordPress solutions to help companies build and manage websites. The Brainjocks team creates and updates websites that are most frequently hosted on public cloud servers.
We support our customers from end to end. We create and update their websites, and often support them after they go live, also. Sometimes we host their web sites on our cloud servers using Google Cloud, AWS, or Azure cloud solutions.
What’s your role at Brainjocks?
I’m a DevOps engineer, so my role is to set up and support all of the different environments for projects. I also configure automation tools and processes for developers, allowing them to deploy code changes in a seamless and automated process.
That is where ParkMyCloud comes into play for us. I make sure that we aren’t charging our clients too much for their cloud services when those services are not being actively utilized.
We have a DevOps team of five, and we support approximately 90 employees across our company.
How did you all decide to have a multi-cloud environment across all three of the major providers?
When we first started using public cloud, we opted for Google Cloud. At the time, Google Cloud was a more economically affordable option, and it was a great start for internal servers and internal projects. As of today we have 55 Google Cloud servers being managed in ParkMyCloud. These instances consist of internal servers for quality assurance sites, as well as proof of concept servers for the clients who we manage within Google Cloud.
Later we began using AWS for our continuous integration needs. One of the primary tools that we use for continuous integration and continuous deployment is TeamCity, which contains numerous AWS integration points. When Azure became a feature leader in the cloud market we began transitioning many of our clients to the Azure solution, primarily for the reliability of supporting production environments and to take advantage of the integration options for our development tools. Azure bolstered their integration offerings for servers, as well as for the continuous integration Azure Devops tool that we use for most of our projects on the Azure environment. We also use Microsoft products for our development processes. Since we use both SQL Server and Visual Studio, we utilize Azure for production environments.
What led you to search for a solution like ParkMyCloud?
We have a lot of active servers for internal testing, and keeping those online 24/7 is a significant cost when we only need them online when we are actively using them. Initially we would enable and disable the servers manually as needed, but that was a very time-consuming activity for our DevOps team. Cross-department communication became a challenge, also, as the QA team might try to do tests within a certain environment only to discover that the servers they needed were turned off, requiring them to seek out a DevOps resource and request that the server be brought back online.
Azure includes some automated options to schedule server availability, but neither Google Cloud nor AWS offers a good scheduling feature. That’s why I began researching different tools in the market that can automate server schedules. It is ideal to have one to reliably schedule server availability. ParkMyCloud does an amazing job with that.
I also like the option of configuring policies that allow me to schedule specific server availability per project. These scheduling features also greatly facilitate our processes across our US- and European-based offices since they operate in multiple time zones. With ParkMyCloud I have a schedule for each time zone, so when it’s 3:00 in the morning local time in our Atlanta office the European servers will automatically be online. They don’t have to ping us and wake us up early in the morning. So that’s one thing I was definitely looking for in a tool that we never had before.
That sounds like it was a pain to manage.
It sure was. The previous, manual process for enabling and disabling servers was not an efficient process at all, and it was a tedious task to organize all of our servers across all of our time zones.
How did you first hear about ParkMyCloud?
We looked into creating a custom application that would do something similar to ParkMyCloud, but our custom solutions didn’t have a lot of the benefits that we have found in your solution. We wanted a way that the QA team could go in and see if the servers are on or off, request to have the servers turn on, and then I was planning to create an automated process to have these servers on and off on a certain schedule. I was creating automation scripts to turn off the servers, and eventually I just realized that there’s got to be a good tool out there that will automate this process for me. That’s when I started researching, and through my research I found ParkMyCloud. I saw a demo, and determined that ParkMyCloud does everything that I want plus much, much more.
How much have you saved on your cloud bills so far with ParkMyCloud?
We just started using it a few months ago, and we’ve already saved $10,000.
Do you have ParkMyCloud integrated with any other tools you use?
Yes. We use Slack, which is the biggest communication tool that we use throughout our company. I have Slack integrated with ParkMyCloud, so any time a scheduled configuration changes or when certain critical servers are turned on or off, all applicable team members are alerted via the Slack-ParkMyCloud integration before those servers are shut down.
We chatted with Greg Cockburn, Principle Practice Lead for Australia-based managed services provider AC3, about how they selected ParkMyCloud as part of their MSP software portfolio.
Great to speak with you, Greg! Can you start out by telling us about AC3 and what you all do?
Sure. So our go-to-market strategy is about cloud, infrastructure, data, software integration, and cybersecurity management. We can help you on your journey from a consulting phase about a new project, or during a migration into the cloud, all the way through to managing that on an ongoing basis. We provide managed services, cybersecurity expertise, day-to-day operations, cloud infrastructure builds, software development, and everything in between.
It requires us to really understand the client’s business. For us, it’s really all about enabling technology to solve business problems.
What’s your role at AC3?
My role is Principle Practice Lead, I look after all of the practices which include AWS, Azure, systems integration and management, and two up and coming practices: software and data, and cybersecurity.
How many customers do you all have?
About a thousand. That’s about a 50/50 split of customers using AWS or Azure, and customers in private cloud. And that’s across both government and private organizations and all sizes.
Are most of your customers in your general geographical area?
Yes. Most of our customers are Australian or New Zealand based.
So of your customers that are using AWS or Azure, how far are they into their cloud journey?
It’s a very varied mix. We have everything from mid-sized agencies that have been running WordPress environments and need help with customizations, all the way through to large enterprises and governments. Where they are in their cloud journeys can vary greatly.
For some, we’re starting with a lift-and-shift and then kind of unraveling some of their workloads to see if we can start making use of native services. For others, there are workloads that we’re looking after or were built that are completely serverless. For example last year we built a completely serverless data lake for New South Wales Spatial Services.
How did you start using ParkMyCloud?
I personally had a particular need to solve a resource scheduling problem, so I checked out some MSP software options for scheduling and then jumped in and used it. ParkMyCloud had a simpler interface compared to some of the other products out there, and got the job done. It was an easy model to understand and consume, and it wasn’t going to cost an arm or leg. I liked that the pricing wasn’t based on percentages or anything complicated.
And then it kind of just started to snowball from there. We’ve got more and more customers using ParkMyCloud, and we’ve started to integrate it into our monitoring.
What was the specific use case that got you looking for a solution?
The customer wanted to be able to manage on and off schedules themselves. We have our own internal process that does some of that, but it wasn’t available to customers – there was no interface they could use to create, apply, or override their own schedules.
One customer was saying to us, look, we need to be able to turn it off potentially days at a time as opposed to just a regular schedule. And then sometimes we might want to be able to have it running all week if we’re doing load testing or vulnerability testing or something like that.
So we jumped on board with ParkMyCloud and signed this customer as a bit of a proof of concept. They were really happy with everything. They were able to schedule everything, group things together, and it made perfect sense for them from there.
Now we have many more customers using ParkMyCloud, and have hooks inside our internal monitoring system for ParkMyCloud so we can keep an eye on everything.
Has it saved you or your team any time to hand off the scheduling to the end-users?
Definitely. By being able to give end users control, they’re able to drive how and when they have things and can turn them on and off on an as-needed basis.
Before, one of our engineers would have to understand the problem, talk to the customer, grab those requirements, put it into a ticket, go in and put the scheduling into our system, test it to make sure that it worked, and close that ticket. Now it’s a completely different team that can take care of that – a team that is more customer aligned rather than the support team. They can just spin up a new account for ParkMyCloud. The automation takes care of hooking it into the AWS account with the right roles, etc., and the customer gets an email to get started with and they’re off and away.
Do you have any other feedback about your and your customers’ experience using ParkMyCloud?
The ParkMyCloud team has been really responsive which helped me integrate the product with Google’s suite for SSO. When we’ve raised suggestions, the team has been responsive supporting those initiatives and we’ve seen some of them come to fruition.
We also appreciate that the interface is easy to use and the pricing model is simple. It’s just really easy. That was the big key thing for us. There are other solutions and MSP software offerings out there that can do some sort of scheduling. But what tends to happen with these tools is that they end up doing many things and they don’t do them well. Software providers do better when they remember their original core focus and stick to that.
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 instancetypeoptions, 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:
ParkMyCloud now supports all three major cloud providers for resource RightSizing with the latest release of automated Azure Rightsizing!
How to Use ParkMyCloud’s Azure RightSizing to Automatically Optimize Costs
RightSizing is the process of matching a workload to the best supporting virtual machine to optimize costs. Why does it matter? Many virtual machines in the cloud are sized much larger than necessary for the workloads running on them. A recent analysis of the resources managed in the ParkMyCloud platform showed that the Average CPU across resources was merely 4.9%. Additionally, more than 95% of the resources sampled were operating at less than 50% average CPU. This means that they are provisioned for far more CPU than they actually need.
VM sizing and type selection has a drastic effect on cost –– one size down within the same VM family can reduce the cost by 50%, andwith changes between families or across more than one size, savings can be even greater. In the example shown here, ParkMyCloud has three RightSizing options, which could save the user 40-68% of the cost.
ParkMyCloud recommends VMs eligible for RightSizing; can take automated action to RightSize VMs, and can change VM families and modernize types.
Other New Features in ParkMyCloud
We’re constantly updating and improving the ParkMyCloud platform to bring you the best user experience and the most savings on your cloud environment. Here are some of the latest notable feature and support additions:
First, you’ll need to be an active ParkMyCloud customer or trial user. To set up an account, start a free trial and connect to your Azure account. You will have full access to the Enterprise Tier level features for 14 days.
Then, for customer and trial users alike, please contact us to enable the RightSizing beta, which supports Azure RightSizing as well as AWS and Google Cloud. In a few weeks, RightSizing will be made generally available for users on the new Pro tier as well as the Enterprise tier. Take advantage of this time to check it out!
It’s that time of year again at ParkMyCloud’s cloud optimization headquarters. Summer is in full swing, the 4th of July is on Thursday, and the USWNT is in World Cup semi-finals – let’s GO USA. And, of course, ParkMyCloud is four years old.
Anniversaries in Review
We always like to take a moment of reflection on these anniversaries –– here are our previous ones, if you’re curious:
This past year has been a big one for ParkMyCloud. As you may be aware we were acquired in May by Turbonomic, the leader in application resource management. In the short time since that acquisition, things have been nothing but positive for ParkMyCloud and our customers. ParkMyCloud remains a separate brand and we continue to invest in the product and add new features to the platform to help our customers automate cost control for AWS, Azure and Google clouds. We now have more than 1,100 organizations in more than 50 countries using ParkMyCloud, achieving an average ROI of 815%. Yes, you read that correctly – 815%!
A few interesting trends found in the cloud usage tracked in our platform over the last 12 months:
There are now more Google Cloud projects being managed in the ParkMyCloud platform than Azure subscriptions, but conversely are more Azure resources than Google resources.
We now see ParkMyCloud customers using both Azure and Google Cloud together. This is new – in the past we have seen combinations of AWS and Azure as well as AWS and Google Cloud.
Every large enterprise that was using AWS exclusively 2-3 years ago now also has some Azure resources in the platform. Combined with the last data point, you can see how multi-cloud is truly the current reality.
The resource count in the platform is up over 600% over the last year. Obviously organic growth and the acquisition of new customers drives this, but we have seen a big uptick in the use of scale groups and analytics workloads, an effect of greater needs for elasticity.
Looking Ahead: Bigger and Better Cloud Optimization and Automation Coming Soon
The big news for our customers this year has been the addition of rightsizing to the platform. We currently support automated rightsizing for AWS and Google Cloud, and will have Azure complete in a few weeks. Soon, we’ll also be offering scheduled resizing which will give you flexibility to align resizing with your internal maintenance windows and other specific times to minimize downtime. During the second half of this year, we plan to add support for containers, snapshot management and the ability to identify AWS Reserved Instances. This last addition will help users see how they are utilizing their Reserved Instances and whether their utilization needs to match their reservations. Users will also be able to plan Reserved Instance purchases based on their uptime needs, better matching reservations vs. on-demand resources with schedules.
How do we develop this roadmap and stay on a path of constant improvement? We have a lot of customer conversations and get great input from our customers on our Slack channel. We hear about containers, serverless and other more advanced PaaS offerings that users would like to manage in addition to the main culprit of cloud waste, oversized and idle resources.
As always, we are open to feedback on what’s most important to you. What would help you optimize your cloud environment? Let us know in the comments below (or if you prefer, Slack or email.)
If we don’t hear from you, we will make these ground-breaking decisions on a warm Tuesday evening at Crooked Run Brewery in Sterling, VA (that’s where some of our best ideas come from). If you are in the vicinity, swing by for a beer!
We recently held our first AWS webinar, featuring speakers from AWS, Sysco, and our CTO Bill Supernor. If you missed “How to Turn AWS Utilization Data into Automated Cost Control,” not to worry! You can watch a replay here.
Here are 9 takeaways from this AWS webinar – and more resources to learn about them:
Cost Optimization is one of five key pillars in the AWS Well-Architected Framework, and we’re glad to see AWS prioritizing controlled costs so highly. If you’re not already familiar with the Well-Architected Framework, learn more on the AWS site. The other pillars, by the way, include operational excellence, security, reliability, and performance efficiency.
Choose the right pricing modelfor your workload needs. Make sure to evaluate whether Reserved Instances are a good choice before committing, and don’t forget about Spot Instances either.
Tagging resources according to cost allocation was emphasized by AWS as important for decision making – and of course it is! You have to be able to categorize your resources to make decisions about them. Here’s more on how to improve cloud automation through tagging.
Use AWS CloudWatch – similarly, use your CloudWatch data to optimize your environment. AWS is collecting data about your usage whether you’re looking at it or not – so put it to work!
Bagels work– Sysco Foods’ Kurt Brochu shared that he could motivate his team to show up for cost optimization trainings by providing bagels. Sometimes it takes a bit of prodding to get team members not directly responsible for budget to care about cost, so don’t be afraid to get creative.
Use Gamification as a motivator – similarly, by turning cost savings into a race or other competition, you can awake interest that might otherwise be hard to find.
There are plenty more AWS webinars – AWS partners frequently hold webinars in conjunction with the cloud provider. One of the best places to learn about them is the @AWS_Partners Twitter channel.
Watch the replay of our AWS webinar for the full story – and let us know in the comments below what else you’d like to learn about in future webinars!