New in ParkMyCloud: Park Azure Scale Sets

New in ParkMyCloud: Park Azure Scale Sets

Today, we are happy to announce that you can now park Azure scale sets – allowing you to optimize costs for these groups of Microsoft Azure virtual machines.

Use other public clouds? You can park those scale groups, too. A few weeks ago, we announced GCP Managed Instance Group support, and we have supported AWS auto scaling group for some time.

Back to Azure – let’s take a look at the new functionality.

How You Can Park Azure Scale Sets

In ParkMyCloud, you can now manage and park Azure scale sets, both with and without autoscaling, to turn them off or to a “low” state when not needed to save money. When you set a parking schedule on a scale set, you have the option to set a straightforward “on/off” schedule — when parked, the maximum number of resources is 0 and therefore the group is fully parked. Or if you prefer, set your own preferred number of resources for a “low” rather than “off” state.

While we’re talking to our Microsoft fans — don’t miss the Microsoft Teams bot we made so you can control ParkMyCloud right from your chat window! ChatOps is fun, and this bot can streamline your workday by saving you a trip to the ParkMyCloud console.

ParkMyCloud Users: Enable Scale Sets and Get Parking

Existing users: in order to use Azure scale sets, you must update Azure Service Account permissions, as detailed in the ParkMyCloud User Guide.

Once you’ve done that, you can start parking scale sets. You can filter your dashboard to show only scale groups – on the left menu under “Resources” click “Auto Scaling Groups” to filter to just that type of resource. You can select a group and put a parking schedule on it, just like an individual instance.

As mentioned above, you can customize the amount of resources in the group in the high/low states. For the selected group, click the arrow on the far right to open the resource detail screen. You will be able to set a “desired” value of resources for the group at start and at stop.

Note that if your scale sets have multiple scaling profiles, they won’t be parkable and will be denoted with the “unparkable” icon. The number of “Autoscale Profiles” assigned to an Azure scale set is listed on the resource details screen.

New Users: Get Started

If you don’t use ParkMyCloud yet, it’s easy to get started and start saving 65% or more on your cloud costs. We recently upgraded our 14-day free trial to provide Enterprise tier access, so you’ll get to try out everything from user import/export feature to database parking to SmartParking, with unlimited users, teams, and cloud credentials. Get started now.

New in ParkMyCloud: Park GCP Groups, Schedule Override, New Trial Experience, and More

New in ParkMyCloud: Park GCP Groups, Schedule Override, New Trial Experience, and More

Today, we share the latest update in ParkMyCloud, which highlights new types of GCP resources you can park, and updates for new and existing users alike.

Park GCP Groups

Now in ParkMyCloud, you can manage and optimize costs for your GCP Managed Instance Groups, both with and without Autoscaling. You can set parking schedules on these groups, but rather than simply turning them “on” and “off”, you can set “high” and “low” stages for your groups, for which you set a maximum and minimum number of resources, respectively. Some additional details:

  • GCP Managed Groups with Autoscaling can have a minimum size of 1 instance in the Low/Off state, and thus they can never be fully shut off to zero instances.
  • GCP Managed Groups without Autoscaling can have a minimum size of 0 instances in the Low/Off state, and can be fully shut off.
  • The Console will show the members of GCP Unmanaged Groups as “regular” resources, allowing them to be scheduled/controlled individually. You wish to assign them to ParkMyCloud Logical Groups in order to start and stop them as a set.

In order to allow ParkMyCloud to support management of GCP Instance Groups, please update your ParkMyCloud Access Role to include the latest set of permissions defined here in the User Guide.

What about other cloud service providers? ParkMyCloud already supports parking for AWS Auto Scaling groups. Management of Azure’s equivalent, Azure scale sets, is coming later this month.

Schedule “Snooze” is now “Override”

ParkMyCloud has long allowed you to “snooze” parking schedules — as in, snooze the on/off actions of the schedule, not the resource. But it was confusing — when people heard “snooze”, they incorrectly assumed it meant, “put the resource to sleep”.

So we’ve renamed it “override”. When you override a schedule on a resource, you can set it to your preferred state of running or parked, either for a set duration (e.g., override the schedule for 3 hours) or until a set time (e.g., override the schedule until 8:00 a.m. on May 16). After that time, normal schedule actions will resume.

For Existing Users…

This release includes a number of other updates that will interest existing users of ParkmyCloud:

    • Recommendations Export: The recommendations screen can now be exported to CSV, via a new Export button, for easy sharing and analysis.
    • Online Help: Each page on the console now has a “?” link to context-sensitive help from the PMC User Guide.
    • Teams: Superadmins now appear as greyed-out users on all team lists, showing their visibility into all teams.
    • Notifications: User-level notifications are now more obvious with a link from the org/team-level notifications screen.
  • Resources Screen:
    • The Schedule/Start/Stop/Team/Group buttons are now always visible, and only enabled when appropriate instances are checked, depending on the function of the button.
    • The resources screen is now more mobile-device friendly. There used to be an issue with how the screen scrolled, which is now fixed.
    • Performance improvements for customers with large numbers of schedules and recommendations.

For New Users…

Don’t tell the existing users above, but we’ve improved the ParkMyCloud free trial for new users. When you start a 14-day free trial, you will now be given Enterprise tier access to the product – that means unlimited instances, teams, users, and cloud accounts across providers in your trial ParkMyCloud account, access to the user import/export feature, database parking, SmartParking, and more. Check it out with a free trial.

Announcing SmartParking for Google Cloud Platform: Automated, Custom On/Off Schedules Based on GCP Metric Data

Announcing SmartParking for Google Cloud Platform: Automated, Custom On/Off Schedules Based on GCP Metric Data

Today we’re excited to announce the latest cloud provider compatible with ParkMyCloud’s SmartParkingTM – Google Cloud Platform! In addition to AWS and Azure, Google users will now benefit from the use of SmartParking to get automatic, custom on/off schedules for cloud resources based actual usage metrics.

The method is simple: ParkMyCloud will import GCP metric data to look for usage patterns for your GCP virtual machine instances. With your utilization data, ParkMyCloud creates recommended schedules for each instance to turn off when they are typically idle, eliminating potential cloud waste and saving you money on your Google Cloud bill every month. You will no longer have to go through the process of creating your own schedule or manually shutting your VMs off – unless you want to. SmartParking automates the scheduling for you, minimizing idle time and cutting costs in the process.

Customized Scheduling – Not “One-Size-Fits-All”

SmartParking’s benefits are not “one-size-fits-all.” The recommended schedules can be customized like an investment portfolio – choose between “conservative”, “balanced”, or “aggressive” based on your preferences.

And like an investment, a bigger risk comes with a bigger reward. When receiving recommendations based on your GCP metric data, you’ll have the power to decide which of the custom schedules is best for you. If you’re going for maximum savings, aggressive SmartParking is your best bet since you’ll be parked most of the time, but with a small “risk” of occasionally finding an instance parked when needed. But in the event that this does happen – no fear! You can still use ParkMyCloud’s “snooze button” to override the schedule and get the instance turned back on — and you can give your team governed access to do the same.

If you’d rather completely avoid having your instances shut off when needed, you can opt for a conservative schedule. Conservative SmartParking only recommends a parking schedule during times that instances are never used, ensuring that you won’t miss a beat when it comes to having instances off during any given time that you’ve ever used them.

If you’re worried about the risk of aggressive parking for maximum savings, but want more opportunities to save than conservative schedules will give you, then a “balanced” SmartParking schedule is a happy medium.

What People are Saying: Save More, Easier than Ever

Since ParkMyCloud debuted SmartParking in January for AWS, adding Azure in March, customers have given positive feedback to 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.”

ParkMyCloud customer Sysco Foods has more than 500 users across 50 teams using ParkMyCloud to manage their AWS environments. “When I’m asked by a team how they should use the tool, they’re exceedingly happy that they can go in and see when systems are idle,” Kurt Brochu, Sysco Foods’ Senior Manager of the Cloud Enablement Team, said of SmartParking. “To me, the magic is that the platform empowers the end user to make decisions for the betterment of the business.”

Already a ParkMyCloud user? Log in to your account to try out the new SmartParking. Note that you will need to update the permissions that ParkMyCloud has to access your GCP metric data — see the user guide for instructions on that.

Not yet a ParkMyCloud user? Start a free trial here.

Interview: ParkMyCloud Empowers Sysco Foods’ Cloud-Only Strategy

Interview: ParkMyCloud Empowers Sysco Foods’ Cloud-Only Strategy

We talked with Kurt Brochu, Senior Manager of the Cloud Enablement Team at Sysco Foods, about how his company has been using ParkMyCloud to empower end users to keep costs in check with the implementation of their cloud-only strategy.

Thanks for taking the time to speak with us today. I know we chatted before at re:Invent, where you gave us some great feedback, and we’re excited to hear more about your use of ParkMyCloud since it rolled out to your other teams.

To get started, can you describe your role at Sysco and what you do?

I’m a senior manager here in charge of the cloud enablement team. The focus is on public cloud offerings, where we function as the support tier for the teams that consume those services. I also have ownership of ensuring that cost containment and appropriateness of use is being performed, as well as security and connectivity, network services, authentication, and DNS.

We don’t consider ourselves IT, our department is referred to as Business Technology. Our CTO brought us on 3 or 4 years ago with the expectation that we understand the business needs, wants, and desires, to actually service them as they would need versus passively telling them that their server is up or down.

As well as security and the dev team, teams using cloud also include areas that are customer facing, like sales, or internal, like finance, business reporting, asset management, and the list goes on.

Tell us about your company’s cloud usage.

We’ve had our own private cloud since 2003, offered on-prem. We’ve been in public cloud since 2013. Now, our position has gone from a “cloud-first” to a “cloud-only” strategy in the sense that any new workload that comes along is primarily put in public cloud. We primarily use AWS and are adding workloads to Azure as well.

Talk to me about how cost control fits into your cloud-only strategy. How did you realize there was a problem?

We were seeing around 20% month over month growth in expenditure between our two public clouds. Our budget wasn’t prepared for that type of growth.

We realized that some of the teams that had the ability to auto-generate workloads weren’t best managing their resources. There wasn’t an easy way to show the expenses in a visual manner to present them to Sysco, or to give them some means to manage the state of their workloads.

The teams were good at building other pipelines for bringing workloads online but they didn’t have day-to-day capabilities.

How did you discover ParkMyCloud as a solution to your cost control problem?

We first stumbled upon ParkMyCloud at the 2016 AWS re:Invent conference and were immediately intrigued but didn’t have the cycles to look into it until this past summer, when we made the switch from cloud-first to a cloud-only strategy.

We’ve been running ParkMyCloud since the week before re:Invent in 2017. From there, we had our first presentation to our leadership team in December 2017, where we showed that the uptick in savings was dramatic. It’s leveled off right now because we have a lot of new workloads coming in, but the savings are still noticeable. We still have developers who think that their dev system has to always be on and at will, but they don’t understand that now that we have ParkMyCloud, making it “at will” is as simple as an API call or the click of a button. I expect to see our savings to grow over the rest of the calendar year.

We have 50+ teams and over 500 users on ParkMyCloud now.

That’s great to hear! So how much are you saving on your cloud costs with ParkMyCloud?

Our lifetime savings thus far is $28,000, and the tool has paid for itself pretty quickly.

We have one team who has over 40% savings on their workloads. They were spending on average about $10,000 a month, and now it’s at $5,800 because they leverage ParkMyCloud’s simplified scheduling start/stop capabilities.

What other benefits are you getting from your use of the platform?

What I really like is that we have given most of our senior directors, who actually own the budgets, access to the tool as well. It lets the senior directors, as well as the executives when I present to them, see the actual cost savings. It gives you the ability to shine light in places that people don’t like to have the light shine.

The development team at ParkMyCloud has also been very open to receiving suggestions and capabilities that will help us improve savings and increase user adoption.

That’s great, and please continue to submit your feedback and requests to us! And in that regard, have you tried our SmartParking feature to get recommended schedules based on your usage?

Yes, we have started to. When I’m asked by a team to show them how we suggest they use the tool, they get to decide whether or not to enforce it. I’ll say that they are exceedingly happy by the fact that they can go and see their usage. One developer is telling their team that the feature has to be on at all times.

Are there any other cost savings measures that you use in conjunction with ParkMyCloud or in addition?

We pull numbers and look at Amazon’s best prices guide for sizing. We also take the recommendations from ParkMyCloud and we cross compare those.

Do you have any other feedback for us?

The magic of ParkMyCloud is that it empowers the end user to make decisions for the betterment of business, and gives us the needed visibility to do our jobs effectively. That’s the bottom line. Each user has a decision: I can spend money on wasted resources or I can save it where I can and apply the savings to other projects. Once you start to understand that, then you have that “AHA” moment.

Before using ParkMyCloud, most developers have no awareness of the expense of their workloads. This tool allows me to unfilter that data so they can see, for example: this workload is $293 a month, every month. If you look at your entire environment, you’re spending $17,000 a month, but if you take it down just for the weekend, you could be saving $2-3,000 a month or more depending on how aggressive you want to be, without hurting your ability to support the business. It’s that “AHA” moment that is satisfying to watch.

That’s what we noticed immediately when we looked at the summary reports  – the uptick that appears right after you have these presentations with the team makes your heart feel good.

Well thank you Kurt, again we really appreciate you taking the time to speak with us.

Thank you.

Announcing SmartParking for Microsoft Azure: Automated On/Off Schedules Based on Azure Monitor Data

Announcing SmartParking for Microsoft Azure: Automated On/Off Schedules Based on Azure Monitor Data

Today, we’re excited to announce the release of SmartParkingTM for Microsoft Azure! SmartParking allows Azure customers to automate cloud cost optimization by creating parking schedules optimized to your actual cloud usage based on Azure Monitor data.

Here’s how it works: ParkMyCloud analyzes your Azure Monitor data to find patterns in the usage for each of your virtual machines (VMs). Based on those patterns, ParkMyCloud creates recommended on/off schedules for each VM to turn them off when they are idle. This maximizes your savings by ensuring that no VM is running when it’s not needed — while also saving you the time and frustration of trying to figure out when your colleagues need their resources running.

We released SmartParking for AWS in January, and customers have had positive feedback — and SmartParking for Google Cloud Platform is coming soon.

Customize Your Recommendations like your 401K

Is it better to park aggressively, maximizing savings, or to park conservatively, ensuring that no VM is parked when a user might need it? Everyone will have a different preference, which is why we’ve created different options for SmartParking recommendations. Like an investment portfolio, 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.

An aggressive SmartParking schedule prioritizes the maximum savings amount. 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. Not to worry, though — users can always “snooze” these schedules to override them if they need to use the instance when it’s parked.

On the other hand, a conservative SmartParking schedule will make it more likely that your instances are never parked when they might be needed. It will only recommend parked times when the instance is never used. Choose “balanced” for a happy medium.

Customer Feedback: Making Parking Better Than Ever

ParkMyCloud customer Sysco Foods has more than 500 users across 50 teams using ParkMyCloud to manage their AWS environments. “When I’m asked by a team how they should use the tool, they’re exceedingly happy that they can go in and see when systems are idle,” Kurt Brochu, Sysco Foods’ Senior Manager of the Cloud Enablement Team, said of SmartParking. “To me, the magic is that the platform empowers the end user to make decisions for the betterment of the business.”

Already a ParkMyCloud user? Log in to your account to try out SmartParking for Azure. Note that you’ll have to update the permissions that ParkMyCloud has to access your Azure data — see the user guide for instructions on that.

Not yet a ParkMyCloud user? Start a free trial here.

Google Cloud Platform user? Not to worry — Google Cloud SmartParking is coming next month. Let us know if you’re interested and we’ll notify you when it’s released.

Interview: Qcentive Saves Significant Amounts on AWS while Enabling Cloud Computing in Healthcare

Interview: Qcentive Saves Significant Amounts on AWS while Enabling Cloud Computing in Healthcare

We talked with Bill Gullicksen, Director of IT at Qcentive, about how the company is using ParkMyCloud to save money on their AWS costs while enabling cloud computing in healthcare.

Thanks for taking the time to speak with us today. Can you start by telling me about Qcentive and how you are using the cloud?

We are a 2-year-old healthcare startup founded through the venture capital arm of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts (BCBSMA). We build systems for the healthcare industry to help reduce costs in healthcare and provide efficiencies. Our cloud-based payment platform will facilitate the development and management of value-based contracts between healthcare companies. We are excited to be one of the earliest vendors authorized to take healthcare information and move it securely to the cloud.

What do you think made Qcentive stand apart as the best option for moving data to the cloud?

Healthcare has historically been cloud-averse due to issues like privacy and security concerns. In order to prove the use case for cloud computing in healthcare, we needed to build out a prototype and go through many months of meetings–producing artifacts to prove that we could move data to the cloud in a HIPAA/HITECH-compliant and secure manner.

We’ve recently released our first prototype module of the application by taking years of patient and healthcare contract information, loading it all into AWS, and then putting our application on top of it. Our application allows our health plan customers and their value-based contracting provider partners to analyze healthcare claim records, emergency room visits, etc. and to quickly calculate how to potentially realize savings in those areas.

So as you’re helping healthcare companies transition to the cloud, how did you come to find ParkMyCloud as a useful tool for your mission?

We had a few architects just going to town on AWS during the first year we were in business. They were building away, and all of a sudden our monthly AWS costs began to ramp up. We were spending a lot of money on Amazon and we didn’t even have a working application yet!

Last summer I was put in charge of our AWS operations and was asked to address our AWS costs. I asked, “what can we do to get some of these costs under control?” We started out with some rightsizing exercises and scaled some stuff back and that got us some savings. We found areas where we have had some stability and used Reserved Instances there, allowing us to get a 30-40% discount, but we didn’t want to do long-term commitments so we only did those for a year.

For the remaining instances, I realized we pay by the minute and we really don’t need to be running instances 24/7. That’s when we started thinking about how to schedule instances to shut down. I could do that and turn them off with AWS tools, but then telling an instance to turn itself back on at 6 in the morning–I didn’t have a way to do that. And that’s when I found out about ParkMyCloud and said this looks perfect – we can schedule instances to get them running 12 hours a day, 5 days a week instead of 24/7 and we’ll probably cut our costs in half.

Have you discovered any other benefits while using ParkMyCloud?

ParkMyCloud was the perfect tool for what we needed at the time and it also gave us a side benefit where we could give developers, QA people, and even data analysts and business folks the ability to turn an instance off when they’re done, or turn it on without having to write a bunch of complex policies within AWS.

Before, if we only wanted certain people to be able to manipulate a handful of instances, I had to put those instance IDs in the policies. Instance IDs frequently change, so running custom policies was taking a lot of overhead and we got the benefit from ParkMyCloud of just assigning them teams. Now, whether the instance IDs change or not, there’s no extra work for our IT team.

That’s why we chose ParkMyCloud and why we’ve been using it for 6-7 months now. For me it was great, very simple to set up, simple to use, easy for non-technical users and with very little effort from me and my technical staff, so it’s been perfect.

Great. So it seems like you were using a good mix of different cost savings efforts between the reserved instances, the rightsizing, and ParkMyCloud. Is there anything else you’re doing to manage cloud re-infrastructure costs?

Those are the bulk of it. We have other cloud-tracking subscriptions that we use sometimes. They are very simple but I just use it for looking at the daily spend, seeing if there’s any unexpected spikes, things like that. I can use it for finding resources that are no longer being used. It’s nice to have for identifying orphaned volumes and gives me a simple, easy way to clean some of that up, but we get our biggest use out of ParkMyCloud.

What percent of your resources are currently on ParkMyCloud schedules?

We’ve taken some schedules off just to keep some systems up for a while, but our rule of thumb has been to put a schedule and a team on everything. Even if a schedule is running 24/7/365, we want to at least have a schedule on it and know that it’s a conscious business decision we made to keep that up versus “it just slipped through the cracks and we never looked at it.”

About how many people in your team or organization are using ParkMyCloud?

Somewhere around 15 or so users.

Where do those users sit within your organization?

I’m Director of IT and we’ve got a Director of DevOps and a DevOps engineer–we are the three technical resources around infrastructure. Then we’ve got around 10 or so software developers that all have access so they can spin up their dev environments and spin them down when they’re not working.

We have a flexible schedule. Some of our software developers do their best coding at 3 in the morning. If they get up with an idea and they want to code, they need the ability to start up instances, do what they need to do, and then turn them off when they’re done. So they’re all in there, our QA department and some business analysts that do a lot of data analysis and database querying are also using ParkMyCloud.

That makes sense. So, how much are you saving on your AWS bills using ParkMyCloud?

Our initial savings with ParkMyCloud were significant and the product paid for itself quickly. Based on business needs, our costs can escalate rapidly so we estimate we’re saving up to 20% on our costs on a monthly basis.

We’ve got a lot of instances that we keep normally parked now and we only turn them on when there’s a workload to run. And then we’ve got probably another 40 or 50% of our instances that only run Monday through Friday, from 7:00 AM to 7:00 PM, so we’re getting that savings there which to me is bigger savings than dealing with Reserved Instances.

Things like Reserved Instances look great the day you buy them, but then the first time you have to change the size on something, all of the sudden you’ve got Reserved Instances that you’re not using anymore. With ParkMyCloud that never happens, it’s all savings.

How did you first hear about ParkMyCloud?

We were interviewing an external technology company, G2 Technologies in Boston last summer that was being brought in to augment our CI/CD process. While they were in we asked, “hey, do you know any good methods for doing scheduling?” – and they said take a look at ParkMyCloud.

Any other feedback for us?

I was surprised how simple ParkMyCloud was to get up and running. It was a couple of hours from signing up for the trial to having most of the work done and realizing savings, which was great. The release of your mobile app has been fantastic because it’s nice if we need to turn something on for somebody that doesn’t have access on a Saturday when I’m 30 miles away from my computer. I can do it anywhere with the mobile app.

Glad to hear it! I think that wraps things up for now. Thank you Bill, I appreciate your time.

You’re welcome!