Posted in AWS, Cloud Computing

3 Ways to Monitor AWS EC2 Instance Costs

It is critical that you’re able to effectively monitor your AWS EC2 instances. If you don’t understand how each instance is being used, or if it’s being used at all, you can potentially be wasting a lot of money. There a lot of methods and tools different organizations use to ensure they don’t overspend on cloud computing.

Reserved Instances

Reserved instances are the most obvious way to manage your instance costs. You agree to purchase a set amount of them for one to three years, but pay considerably less per instance as when compared to using them on demand.

There are, however, several factors which complicate this process. Firstly, you need to have an idea as to how many instances you’ll need in the long term. This is quite difficult, as most organizations using the cloud haven’t even been using it for that long. As a result, the accurate prediction of a number of instances needed can be extremely problematic.

Another complicating factor is that it can be quite difficult to get the right kinds of instances on a reserved instance basis. However, despite both of these concerns, there is still the ability to gain value by using reserved instances.

One strategy that’s often used is to reserve enough instances to meet only the minimum or average sustained usage of instances needed to keep the application running. By doing this, you can get some significant savings in those specific instances.

Another great method to get good value out of reserved instances is to use them with applications that have historically had extremely stable usage rates. These items are generally quite a bit more predictable and so you’re extremely unlikely to get any waste by purchasing reserved instances sufficient to cover the average usage rate of that application.

Reserved instances are also a great method of getting reliable cloud storage to backup your internal files.

Spot Instances

Spot instances enable customers to set the maximum price they’re willing to pay per instance.

This is extremely effective for running background processing jobs or for strenuous tasks such as processing big loads of information.

The issue this model creates is that as soon as you’ve crossed the price threshold, you immediately lose access to the instance. This means that you could be a large part of the way through a process and lose access. If you’re unprepared for this occurrence, you could have lost the value created by that specific instance.

The general best practice to combat this is to use tools to monitor the price and be a bit flexible on what you’re willing to pay. By doing this, you can get access to the savings that spot instances can create, but you’re not going to get pushed off your instances at a moment’s notice.

One idea you should use if you decide to pursue spot instances is to use a tool to notify you when you near your price limit. By doing that, you can evaluate if you think it’s worth the extra cost to keep that instance in this case or if what you’re using it for isn’t important at the moment.

Another great method when using this is to use these spot instances as methods of boosting the power of another process, rather than running the process off the instance itself. In this way, you can ensure that even if you lose the instance, you retain the value it creates.

Consolidated Monitoring Tools & New Instance Types

When you’re trying to control the costs associated with AWS EC2 instances, one of the first things you should do is gather historical data about your usage. Once you’ve acquired all the raw data, you should design an interface where you can easily view this material.

While it is always good to have control over the process of managing instances, there are certain third-party tools that can aid you greatly in the process.

One such tool is Cloudcheckr. It is a highly sophisticated tool that is designed to monitor standard policies, and notify someone if resources are being used outside of the pre-specified parameters.  It is also a fantastic tool to manage and view costs, as it creates a handy heat map to view cost spending.

Another great tool is Trusted Advisor. It is a native tool available within AWS EC2. The primary function it serves is to recommend cost savings opportunities. It also provides security and fault tolerance recommendations.

As cloud computing grows, Amazon develops new types of instances and other products and services.

New instance types have huge cost savings potential. These new instance types can use resources differently and you may find that a new configuration allows you to be more efficient in your instance use.

You don’t need to be spending so much money on AWS EC2 instances. There are a variety of methods you can use to lower your costs. While they all have their drawbacks, there are ways you can use them that allow you to mitigate the downsides they pose.

About the author: Sean is a content specialist for an IT Disaster Recovery Solution Provider. Sean is a dreamer, idea generator and teller of stories. Sean is also a Basketball fan, traveler, and vintage furniture lover.


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