One of the most effective ways to reduce cloud costs is to use scheduling software to program on and off times for your virtual machines so you can start/stop VMs automatically. Some might ask “why use scheduling software to start/stop VMs, when we can do it manually or write our own scripts?” That is a good question and we will try our best to answer it.
The Problems with Starting/Stopping Instances Manually
Asking developers to switch off non-production instances is an unreliable way of reducing cloud costs. Developers can forget to switch off their instances at the end of the day, or be distracted as they move from one project to another. It is also worth pointing out that the manual process of shutting down the operating system from the remote desktop will essentially stop instances from running but not stop the allocation of resources for them, which you will continue to pay for.
In order to deactivate instances and avoid paying for their allocation of resources, you have to go into either the Azure, AWS or GCE Portal, stop the instances and ensure their CPU and memory allocations are “deallocated” so resources are released for other workloads. If you use this process, and you want to retain the instances´ IP addresses, you may have to pay for a static IP address. Charges for static IP addresses accrue per hour regardless of whether the instances are switched on or off.
Developers Cost Money – Lots of Money (Comparatively)
Software developers don´t come cheap, and to reassign them to write scheduling scripts to stop/start instances is an expensive way of reducing cloud costs compared with the cost of scheduling software. Even if a business only has a handful of non-production instances that are suitable for scheduling – and they all have the same start/stop times – you could spend more money on writing and maintaining the scheduling scripts than you would actually save.
Scheduling scripts are also unsuitable ways to start/stop instances automatically if your development teams work irregular hours or work in irregular patterns. Depending on how many scripts you have had to write, it could take just as long to find the right script as it does to edit it in order to switch on the instances when access to them is required. Developers also have to remember to edit the scripts again when they have finished using the instances to switch them back off. Therefore, scheduling scripts are not only expensive, but they could be an unreliable way to reduce cloud costs too.
Using Scheduling Software to Start/Stop Instances
By comparison, using scheduling software to start/stop instances is quick, reliable, and – provided you do not invest in an all-inclusive cloud management package you will use only a few elements of – cost-effective. As an additional bonus, scheduling software not only helps you reduce your cloud costs, it helps them stay reduced by giving you the tools you need to have total visibility over your cloud accounts in order to increase accountability and improve governance.
The process for using scheduling software is simple. Typically you will subscribe to a vendor´s service and allow their software to conduct a discovery of your cloud accounts via a permissions-limited IAM role or dedicated credential. When the discovery is complete, you will see all your resources displayed on a single-view dashboard with an icon indicating which instances suitable for scheduling. You simply apply your choice of schedule from the selection provided to start/stop instances as you wish.
How to Overcome Irregular Schedules with ParkMyCloud
As well as providing a selection of preconfigured schedules, ParkMyCloud´s scheduling software also gives you the opportunity to create your own schedules via an intuitive GUI. If this is not sufficiently flexible for your needs, you also have the option to “permanently park” an instance, or group of instances, and snooze the schedule with the click of a mouse whenever access to the stopped instance is required. In this way, you will only pay for the resources you use.
Safeguards exist so the “permanently parked” schedule is reactivated after a period of inactivity. This means you do not have to rely on developers remembering to switch off non-production instances when they have finished using them. The process can be completed in minutes, is more dependable than developers´ memories and costs considerably less than their salaries. Furthermore, with ParkMyCloud´s scheduling software, you also find out how much you will save in the future as each schedule is applied.
How Much You Can Save and How to Maintain Your Savings
The amount you can save by using scheduling software to start/stop instances depends on the proportion of non-production instances you have deployed in the cloud and the schedules you assign to them. One of our most popular parking schedules (“on” from 8am to 8pm Monday to Friday) will save you a little under 65% on the cost of deploying non-production instances in the cloud, but the savings can be much higher if you are able to take advantage of the “permanently parked” schedule.
You may be able to make further savings by being easily able to identify unused or underused resources via our single-view dashboard, but whatever savings you make, you will be able to maintain them due to ParkMyCloud´s administrative features. These include role-based access controls, real-time and historic monitoring, and administrator alerts in the event an attempt is made to start/stop instances in contravention of a rule implemented via your policy engine.
Start/Stop Instances with ParkMyCloud for Free
If you are looking at ways to reduce your cloud costs, and you have not yet considered using scheduling software to start/stop instances, you are invited to take advantage of a free trial of ParkMyCloud. During your trial you will have access to a fully-enable version of our scheduling software so you can experiment with various schedules to start/stop instances to see how much you could save. However much you are able to save is yours to keep.
At the end of the trial, you have the options of continuing to use the fully-enable version of our scheduling software for a competitively-priced subscription, or taking advantage of a free feature-limited version of ParkMyCloud. With the free feature-limited version, you will be able to start/stop instances as before, but you will not have access to the features that help maintain the savings you make. Contact us today to find out more.