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
We had a great time at re:Invent 2018! Thanks AWS!
Serving sizing in the cloud can be tricky. Unless you are about to do some massive high-performance computing project, super-sizing your cloud virtual machines/instances is probably not what you are thinking about when you log in to your favorite cloud service provider. But from looking at customer data within our system, it certainly does look like a lot of folks are walking up to their neighborhood cloud provider and saying exactly that: Super Size Me!
Like at a fast-food place, buying in the super size means paying extra costs…and when you are looking for ways to save money on cloud costs, whether for production or non-production resources, the first place to look is at idle and underutilized resources.
Within the ParkMyCloud SaaS platform, we have collected bazillions (scientific term) of samples of performance data for tens of thousands of virtual machines, across hundreds of customers, and the average of all “Average CPU” readings is an amazing (even to us) 4.9%. When you consider that many of our customer are already addressing underutilization by stopping or “parking” their instances when they are not being used, one can easily conclude that the server sizing is out of control and instances are tremendously overbuilt. In other words, they are much more powerful than they need to be…and thus much more expensive than they need to be. As cool as “super sizing” sounds, the real solution is in rightsizing, and ensuring the instance size and type are better tailored to the actual load.
Before we start talking about what is involved in rightsizing, let’s look at a few more statistics, just because the numbers are pretty cool. Looking at utilization data from about 88.9 million instance-hours on AWS – that’s 10,148 years – we find the following:
So, what is this telling us about server sizing? The percentiles alone tell us that more than 95% of our samples are operating at less than 50% Average CPU – which means if we cut the number of CPUs in half for most of our instances, we would probably still be able to carry our workload. The 95th percentile for Peak CPU is 58%, so if we cut all of those CPUs in half we would either have to be OK with a small degradation in performance, or maybe we select an instance to avoid exceeding 99% peak CPU (which happens around the 93rd percentile – still a pretty massive number).
Looking down at the 75th and 50th percentiles we see instances that could possibly benefit from multiple steps down! As shown in the next section, one step down can save you 50% of the cost for an instance. Two steps down can save you 75%!
Before making an actual server sizing change, this data would need to be further analyzed on an instance by instance basis – it may be that many of these instances have bursty behavior, where their CPUs are more highly utilized for short periods of time, and idle all the rest of the time. Such an instance would be better off being parked or stopped for most of the time, and only started up when needed. Or…depending on the duration and magnitude of the burst, might be better off moving to the AWS T instance family, which accumulates credits for bursts of CPU, and is less expensive than the M family, built for a more continuous performance duty cycle. Also – as discussed below – complete rightsizing would entail looking at some other utilization stats as well, like memory, network, etc.
On every cloud provider there is a clear progression of server sizing and prices within any given instance family. The next size up from where you are is usually twice the CPUs and twice the memory, and as might be expected, twice the price.
Here is a small sample of AWS prices in us-east-1 (N. Virginia) to show you what I mean:
Double the memory and/or double the CPU…and double the price.
It is important to note that there is more to instance utilization than just the CPU stats. There are a number of applications with low-CPU but high network, memory, disk utilization, or database IOPs, and so a complete set of stats are needed before making a rightsizing decision.
This can be where rightsizing across instance families makes sense.
On AWS, some of the most commonly used instance types are the T and M general purpose families. Many production applications start out on the M family, as it has a good balance of CPU and memory. Let’s look at the m5.4xlarge as a specific example, shown in the middle row below.
If you find that such an instance was showing good utilization of its CPU, maybe with an Average CPU of 75% and Peak CPU of 95%, but the memory was extremely underutilized, maybe only consuming 20%, we may want to move to more of a compute-optimized instance family. From the table below, we can see we could move over to a c5.4xlarge, keeping the same number of CPUs, but cutting the RAM in half, saving about 11% of our costs.
On the other hand, if you find the CPU was significantly underutilized, for example showing an Average CPU of 30% and Peak of 45%, but memory was 85% utilized, we may be better off on a memory-optimized instance family. From the table below, we can move to an r5.2xlarge instance cutting the vCPUs in half, and keeping the same amount of RAM, and saving about 34% of the costs.
Within AWS there are additional considerations on the network side. As shown here, available network performance follows the instance size and type. You may find yourself in a situation where memory and CPU are non-issues, but high network bandwidth is critical, and deliberately super-size an instance. Even in this case, though, you should think about whether there is a way to split your workload into multiple smaller instances (and thus multiple network streams) that are less expensive than a beastly machine selected solely on the basis of network performance.
You may also need to consider availability when determining your server sizing. For example, if you need to run in a high-availability mode using an autoscaling group you may be running two instances, either one of which can handle your full load, but both are only 50% active at any given time. As long as they are only 50% active that is fine – but you may want to consider if maybe two instances at half the size would be OK, and then address a surge in load by scaling-up the autoscaling group.
For full cost optimization for your virtual machines, you need to consider appropriate resource scheduling, server sizing, and sustained usage.
Rightsize instances wherever possible. You can easily save 50% just by going down one size tier – and this applies to production resources as well as development and test systems!
Modernize your instance types. This is similar to rightsizing, in that you are changing to the same instance type in a newer generation of the same family, where cloud provider efficiency improvements mean lower costs. For example, moving an application from an m3.xlarge to an m5.xlarge can save 28%!
Park/stop instances when they are not in use. You can save 65% of the cost of a development or test virtual machine by just having it on 12 hours per day on weekdays!
For systems that must be up continually, (and once you have settled on the correct size instance) consider purchasing reserved instances, which can save 54-75% off the regular cost. If you would like a review of your resource usage to see where you can best utilized reserved instances, please let us know.
Last week, ParkMyCloud released the ability to rightsize and modernize instances. This release helps you identify the virtual machine and database instances that are not fully utilized or on an older family, making smart recommendations for better server sizing and/or family selection for the level of utilization, and then letting you execute the rightsize action. We will also be adding a feature for scheduled rightsizing, allowing you to maintain instance continuity, but reducing its size during periods of lower utilization.
Cloud cost optimization leader adds new method to address cloud waste to improve cloud users’ efficiency
November 21, 2018 (Dulles, VA) – ParkMyCloud, provider of the leading enterprise platform for continuous cost control in public cloud, announced today that its cost optimization platform has now expanded to provide “rightsizing”. Rightsizing is a way to reduce wasted cloud spend by resizing cloud resources, and can provide significant savings: just by moving a virtual machine down one size tier, 50% or more — and resources are often so overprovisioned that multiple size transitions are possible, raising that savings to 75% or more.
This joins ParkMyCloud’s “parking” functionality, which automatically schedules non-production cloud resources, such as those used for development, testing, staging, and QA, to turn off when they’re not needed. With a typical schedule that parks a resource for 12 hours each night and on weekends, users can save 65% of the cost of their resources. Combined with rightsizing, this means that an average cloud user is poised to reduce overall costs in their cloud environment from 50-80% or more.
This release marks the first step to a fully automated instance “SmartSizing”, which ParkMyCloud will release in January 2019. SmartSizing will take rightsizing a step further by actually automating size corrections, requiring little management on the part of the user.
“With each release of the ParkMyCloud platform, we’re delivering customers another piece of the puzzle they need to fully automate multi-cloud cost optimization,” said Bill Supernor, ParkMyCloud’s Chief Technology Officer. “We developed rightsizing in close contact with customers based on their needs, and initial feedback has been positive.”
ParkMyCloud will demo the new functionality at AWS re:Invent, November 26th through November 29th, and invites attendees to visit the company in the expo hall at booth #1709.
ParkMyCloud provides an easy-to-use platform that helps enterprises automatically identify and eliminate wasted cloud spend. More than 800 enterprises around the world – including Unilever, Sysco, Hitachi ID Systems, Sage Software, and National Geographic – trust ParkMyCloud to cut their cloud spend by millions of dollars annually. ParkMyCloud’s SaaS offering allows enterprises to easily manage, govern, and optimize their spend across multiple public clouds. For more information, visit www.parkmycloud.com.
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 became 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.
The latest release of ParkMyCloud includes the ability to schedule Google Cloud SQL Databases, among other updates to help you save more money through cloud automation.
Save with Google Cloud SQL Parking
First up, ParkMyCloud can now park Google Cloud SQL Databases! This means you can automate start/stop on a schedule, so your databases used for development, testing, and other non-production purposes are only running when you actually need them – and you only pay for the hours you need. The average schedule in ParkMyCloud is OFF 65% of the time, which means 65% savings – that’s a lot of money.
You can also use ParkMyCloud’s policy engine to create rules that automatically assign your SQL databases to parking schedules and to teams, so they’re only accessible to the users who need them.
Google Cloud SQL databases are just the latest in the growing list of types of cloud resources you can park, which also includes Google VM instances, Google Managed Instance groups, AWS EC2 instances, AWS auto scaling groups, AWS RDS instances, Azure VMs, Azure Scale Sets, and Alibaba Cloud ECS instances.
So why now? A growing number of ParkMyCloud users base their infrastructure in Google Cloud – in fact, GCP users are our fastest-growing segment of users. We’ll continue to add ways to optimize your environment no matter what clouds you use, of course, but expect more GCP features to come. We’ve focused on databases in this release because databases are the biggest area of cloud spend after compute, accounting for about 15-20% of an average enterprise’s bill.
What Else is New in ParkMyCloud?
Users will enjoy a few other recent additions to the ParkMyCloud platform:
Automatically accept SmartParking recommendations – fully automate your resource optimization by using ParkMyCloud’s policy engine to automatically apply schedules (previously, these had to be manually applied). There are several settings you can tweak to suit your needs – more in the release notes.
Chat integrations – we most recently added chat integration for Google Hangouts and MS Teams, joining our existing Slack integration. You can receive notifications and perform override commands and more through your chat window
If you’re new to ParkMyCloud, you can get started with a free trial. After the full-featured 14-day trial, you can choose to subscribe to a premium plan, or use the free tier – visit our pricing page for more information.
If you already use ParkMyCloud, you’ll need to enable ParkMyCloud to discover and manage your Google Cloud SQL databases. Find the details about the updated limited access role permissions in our user guide. Two things to note: first, you’ll need to be subscribed to the Standard or Enterprise tier in order to access this feature.
As always, we welcome your feedback about this new addition to ParkMyCloud, and any features you’d like to see in the future – comment below or shoot us a note. Cheers!
New in ParkMyCloud: we’ve released integrations with chat clients Google Hangouts and Microsoft Teams to make cloud server monitoring easier and integrated into your day. Now, ParkMyCloud users can get notifications when their resources are about to turn on or off, when a user overrides a schedule, and more.
We created these integrations based on popular demand! ParkMyCloud has had a Slack integration since last summer. Now, we’re encountering more and more teams that set themselves up as pure Google or pure Microsoft shops, hence the need. If your team only uses Google tools – Google Cloud Platform for cloud, Google OAuth for SSO, and Google Hangouts for chat — you can use ParkMyCloud with all of these. Same with Microsoft: ParkMyCloud integrates with Microsoft Azure, ADFS, and Microsoft Teams.
ParkMyCloud notifications in Google Hangouts – note the “view resource” link will take you straight to the resource in ParkMyCloud
Here’s what actions ParkMyCloud admins can get notified on through a chat client for better cloud server monitoring:
Resource Shutdown Warning – Provides a 15-minute warning before an instance is scheduled to be parked due to a schedule or expiring schedule override.
User Actions – These are actions performed by users in ParkMyCloud such as manual resource state toggles, attachment or detachment of schedules, credential updates, etc.
Parking Actions – These are actions specifically related to parking such as automatic starting or stopping of resources based on defined parking schedules.
Policy Actions – These are actions specifically related to configured policies in ParkMyCloud such as automatic schedule attachments based on a set rule.
System Errors – These are errors occurring within the system itself such as discovery errors, parking errors, invalid credential permissions, etc.
System Maintenance and Updates – These are the notifications provided via the banner at the top of the dashboard.
There are a few ways these can be useful. If you’re an IT administrator and you see your users toggling resource states frequently, the notifications may help you determine the best parking schedule for the users’ needs.
Or let’s say you’re a developer deep in a project and you get a notification that your instance is about to be shut down — but you still need that instance while you finish your work. Right in your Microsoft Teams window, you can send an override command to ParkMyCloud to keep the instance running for a couple more hours.
ParkMyCloud notifications in Microsoft Teams
These integrations give ParkMyCloud users a better perspective into cloud server monitoring, right in the same workspaces they’re using every day. Feedback? Comment below or shoot us an email – we are happy to hear from you!
P.S. We also just created a user community on Slack! Feel free to join here for cloud cost, automation, and DevOps discussions.