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AWS Cloud Cost Optimization: Essential Tools & Strategies for Lower Your AWS Bill

vikas singh
Vikas Singh
December 22, 2023
Clock icon12 mins read
Calendar iconLast updated December 22, 2023
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Quick Summary:- In this article, you will discover the key factors contributing to AWS bills and effective approaches to optimizing AWS cloud cost.

AWS Cloud Cost Optimization: An Overview

The AWS cloud serves as a vital foundation for millions of businesses around the world, accounting for over 33% of the cloud market share. This translates to a significant portion of budgets dedicated to this powerful platform.

While its pay-as-you-go model offers the benefit of scaling resources to zero when unused, ensuring fair pricing, a surprising reality persists: many major businesses neglect to analyze their resource usage deeply, leading to potential cost savings left on the table.

This phenomenon can be attributed to several factors. Companies often lack dedicated cloud expertise or fail to leverage proper resource optimization techniques. However, even minor adjustments can yield significant reductions in cloud spending.

This blog serves as your ultimate guide, equipping you with the tools, methods, checklists, and insightful strategies needed to slash your cloud costs effectively.

Here's what you'll gain:

  • Practical tools and tactics for optimizing resource usage.
  • Actionable checklists to track progress and ensure cost efficiency.
  • Thought-provoking strategies to maximize savings potential.

What is AWS Cloud Cost Optimization?

AWS cloud cost optimization refers to a strategy for minimizing cloud spend by choosing the right-sized instances, utilizing cost-saving services, and continuously monitoring and analyzing usage patterns to identify improvement opportunities.

Optimizing the cost of your AWS cloud involves employing tools and strategies to identify and eliminate unnecessary resource usage. This helps you minimize expenses without sacrificing performance. Failing to implement such a strategy can lead to overspending on resources that are not fully utilized.

Factors that contribute to unplanned spending in AWS architecture

We've helped numerous companies optimize their cloud spending and identified three key areas where overspending often occurs:

  • The lack of a dedicated cloud team. Without dedicated expertise, individuals and companies can easily fall victim to complex pricing models
  • Complex AWS environment 
  • Overwhelming number of services

Are you migrating to or already using the AWS platform? If so, you should be aware of potential cost pitfalls, even with its seemingly affordable structure and user-friendly interface. This guide will help you avoid unexpected expenses and optimize your AWS spending.

We'll divide this guide into four sections to provide a clear and concise overview of AWS cost optimization strategies:

1. Tips to Optimize AWS Cloud Cost

Optimizing costs on the AWS cloud requires a proactive and multi-faceted approach. Here are some key strategies to help you get started:

  • Practice Cloud Financial Management

AWS Cost Explorer is a valuable tool for understanding your spending patterns, identifying areas for improvement, and pinpointing your highest cost drivers. Leverage it to generate a list of these drivers and create a detailed plan to optimize each one.

Implementing budgets and alerts with thresholds is another crucial step in financial management. While there's no one-size-fits-all solution, this approach helps you track expenses against defined targets and proactively address any unexpected spikes. By focusing on high-cost drivers identified through Cost Explorer, you can either optimize their usage or explore alternative solutions to reduce their impact on your budget.

  • Utilize Cost-allocation tags

Many companies are unaware of AWS - Cost Allocation Tags. While often underutilized, this tool provides businesses with a level of detail in their cost reports that can revolutionize their financial management.

You can attach to your AWS resources, like EC2 instances, S3 buckets, or Lambda functions. These labels, called tags, consist of a key and a value. When activated, they transform your cost reports, grouping costs according to your chosen tags.

a. This can help you identify the exact resources and services responsible for your biggest expenses.

b. You can further Allocate costs to specific departments, projects, or applications for precise accountability and budgeting.

c. You can also analyze tagged resources' usage patterns to identify underutilized or overprovisioned instances and make adjustments accordingly to optimize the cost further.

  • Choose Cost-Effective Resources

Choosing the right resource means aligning it with your business needs. It should be suitable for your size and operations, not more powerful than what you actually require. Otherwise, you end up paying for unnecessary capabilities. Implementing proper resource optimization can translate into significant savings.

Optimizing for cost-effectiveness requires thorough resource optimization and deep familiarity with the AWS environment. If you lack a dedicated AWS cloud team, consider hiring an experienced AWS development company to help you achieve optimal resource utilization and cost management.

  • Auto Scaling

Autoscaling is a crucial feature. It can efficiently scale up and down multiple resources according to usage on its own, eliminating overprovisioning and wasted costs during idle periods. This frees you from the burden of manually managing scaling, allowing you to focus on other aspects of your application.

  • Utilize the right instance

The selection of instance can have a significant impact. For example, switching to Spot Instances can offer up to 90% discounts compared to on-demand instances.

Spot instances are great for various fault-tolerant and flexible applications. Examples include stateless web servers, API endpoints, big data and analytics applications, containerized workloads, CI/CD, high performance and high throughput computing (HPC/HTC), rendering workloads, and other flexible workloads. This can translate to significant cost savings, but there are also some risks to consider, such as the possibility of interruption.

  • Manage Demand and Supply Resources

If you know your app experiences low traffic at a certain period of time, scheduling shutdowns for those hours can save considerable costs on underutilized instances. By leveraging scheduling tools like AWS CloudWatch Events or Amazon Scheduler Service, you can automatically shut down unnecessary instances during non-business hours, weekends, or periods of low traffic. This can lead to significant savings on instances that would otherwise be idling and incurring charges.

Reserved instances offer substantial discounts (up to 75%) compared to on-demand instances for predictable workloads that run consistently for a specific term (1 or 3 years). By purchasing RIs for these workloads, you lock in lower costs and gain budget predictability. This is especially beneficial for core infrastructure, web servers, and database instances running around the clock.

  • Storage Optimization

By choosing the appropriate storage class, you can avoid paying for unnecessary performance for rarely accessed data. Moving data to lower-cost tiers like IA and Glacier can result in substantial cost reductions. Additionally, S3 Intelligent-Tiering automates this process, ensuring you're always on the most cost-effective tier for each file.

S3 Glacier Deep Archive automatically manages the data lifecycle for you. You can set retention policies to automatically transition data from higher-cost storage classes to Deep Archive after a certain period of inactivity. This simplifies data management and ensures your rarely accessed data is stored in the most cost-effective tier.

2. Tools to Optimize AWS Cost

  • AWS Cost Explorer

This is a free tool that provides a comprehensive overview of your AWS costs and usage. You can use it to visualize your spending over time, identify cost trends, and drill down into specific resources to see where your money is going.

  • AWS Budgets

This tool allows you to set custom budgets for your AWS spending. You can set budgets for individual resources, services, or your entire account. If your spending exceeds your budget, you will receive an alert so you can take action to control your costs.

  • AWS Trusted Advisor

This tool provides recommendations for cost savings, security improvements, and performance optimization. The recommendations are based on best practices and can help you identify areas where you can save money or improve the efficiency of your resources.

3. Understanding AWS Pricing Models

AWS offers a variety of pricing models to suit different usage patterns and budget needs. Here's a breakdown of the key models:

  • On-Demand 

This is the default model, offering flexibility but coming at a higher cost. You pay for resources as you use them, billed per second. While convenient, it's generally best for mission-critical workloads or those with unpredictable spikes in demand. For more consistent usage, other models can be more cost-effective.

  • Savings Plans

These plans offer significant discounts (up to 72%) compared to On-Demand prices, in exchange for a commitment to a consistent amount of usage over a one- or three-year term.

AWS offers three types of Savings Plans:

  1. Compute Savings Plans: Apply to usage across Amazon EC2, AWS Lambda, and AWS Fargate.
  2. EC2 Instance Savings Plans: Offer the highest discounts but are less flexible, as they apply to specific instance types within a region.
  3. Amazon SageMaker Savings Plans: Optimize costs for SageMaker usage.

Organizations like Airbnb, Comcast, and Upwork have successfully reduced their AWS costs by utilizing Savings Plans. Carefully evaluating your usage patterns and choosing the right pricing model can lead to significant savings on your AWS bill.

  • Spot Instances

This model provides access to unused EC2 capacity at steep discounts (up to 90% off On-Demand prices). However, instances can be interrupted if capacity is needed elsewhere. Spot Instances are ideal for workloads that can tolerate interruptions, such as batch processing, data analysis, and testing.

  • Reserved Instances 

Reserved Instances (RIs) offer a powerful solution. You can save up to 75% compared to on-demand pricing, while guaranteeing access to the resources you need when it matters most. This not only helps your wallet, but also provides peace of mind for mission-critical tasks or unpredictable spikes in demand.

By optimizing your RI usage and exploring other cost-saving tactics like right-sizing resources and turning off unused ones, you can unlock the true cost-cutting potential of the cloud and unlock a budget-friendly AWS experience.

4. The Ultimate AWS Cost Reduction Checklist

Here's the enhanced AWS Cost Reduction Checklist, removing outdated and ineffective items and incorporating best practices for 2023:

  1. Establish granular budgets: Set budgets at the account, service, and resource levels to track spending closely and receive alerts when thresholds are reached.
  2. Leverage Cost Explorer: Analyze historical usage and costs to identify trends, patterns, and potential areas for optimization.
  3. Utilize AWS Cost Anomaly Detection: Proactively detect unusual spending patterns and receive timely alerts.
  4. Implement chargeback or showback: Allocate costs to specific teams or projects to encourage accountability and cost-consciousness.
  5. Right-size instances: Choose instance types that align with workload requirements and regularly review for potential adjustments.
  6. Consider Savings Plans: Commit to a consistent usage level for compute over a 1- or 3-year term to save compared to On-Demand instances.
  7. Leverage Spot Instances: Utilize spare capacity at significantly lower prices for workloads that can tolerate interruptions.
  8. Implement instance scheduling: Automatically start and stop instances based on defined schedules or usage patterns.
  9. Adopt serverless technologies: Consider serverless options like AWS Lambda and Fargate to eliminate idle resource costs and pay per execution.
  10. Enable S3 Intelligent Tiering: Automatically move data between access tiers based on usage patterns to optimize costs.
  11. Leverage S3 Glacier Instant Retrieval: Store rarely accessed data with immediate access at a lower cost than S3 Standard.
  12. Delete unused EBS snapshots and volumes: Regularly identify and remove unneeded snapshots and volumes to avoid unnecessary charges.
  13. Optimize database usage: Choose the right database service (RDS, Aurora, DynamoDB) and instance types based on workload needs.
  14. Review data transfer costs: Explore options like VPC endpoints, Direct Connect, or S3 Transfer Acceleration to reduce data transfer fees.
  15. Tag resources: Categorize resources with tags for efficient cost tracking, analysis, and allocation.
  16. Monitor for idle resources: Regularly identify and terminate unused resources to prevent unnecessary costs.
  17. Review Reserved Instance (RI) utilization: Ensure RIs are fully utilized to maximize savings.
  18. Explore managed services: Simplify operations and potentially reduce costs by using managed services like RDS, Elasticsearch, or Redshift.
  19. Consider third-party cost optimization tools: Utilize tools that offer advanced analytics, recommendations, and automation for cost savings.

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Conclusion 

In this article, we have provided methods, tools, and a checklist to help you understand how to optimize your AWS cloud services and save up to 72% on your overall cloud costs. In addition, there are several methods you can employ through educational learning and staying updated with AWS services and optimization techniques.

If you're planning to migrate your business to the cloud and want to ensure a cost-effective roadmap tailored to your needs, contact us today to hire AWS developer today.

FAQs

Q: I'm concerned about migrating to the cloud due to potential cost risks. How can I ensure cost predictability?

A: Utilizing Savings Plans, Reserved Instances, and detailed budget planning with granular cost allocation can help you lock in predictable costs and avoid unexpected spikes. You can also start small with the free tier and scale up gradually as your needs grow. Alternatively, you can seek the assistance of a seasoned AWS service provider.

Q: We already use the AWS Cost Explorer, but haven't seen significant cost reductions. What can we do?

A: Go beyond just looking at the data. Deep dive into the recommendations provided by Cost Explorer and AWS Trusted Advisor. Implement actionable steps like right-sizing instances, exploring Spot Instances, and optimizing storage tiers. Additionally, consider adopting automated actions based on the insights gained from Cost Explorer.

Q: Our IT team is overwhelmed with managing our AWS infrastructure. How can we simplify cost optimization?

A: Invest in managed services like Amazon DynamoDB or Amazon Redshift that handle resource provisioning and maintenance, reducing your operational burden. Additionally, consider utilizing third-party cloud cost optimization tools that offer automated recommendations and cost management features.

Q: We're concerned about the reliability of Spot Instances for our workloads. Are there any risks?

A: Yes, Spot Instances can be interrupted if capacity is needed elsewhere. However, you can mitigate this risk by utilizing interruption-aware workloads, running non-critical tasks on Spot Instances, and implementing fallback strategies.

Q: Our budget is tight, and we're hesitant to invest in additional tools or services for cost optimization. Are there any free or low-cost solutions?

A: Many valuable AWS tools like Cost Explorer and Trusted Advisor are available for free. You can also utilize open-source scripts and automation tools to optimize your environment without a significant upfront investment. Additionally, many MSPs offer cost-effective consulting services to help you get started with optimization strategies.

vikas singh

Vikas Singh

Vikas, the visionary CTO at Brilworks, is passionate about sharing tech insights, trends, and innovations. He helps businesses—big and small—improve with smart, data-driven ideas.

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