Executive Summary

Established in December 2019 in Seoul, South Korea, SmileShark is a fast-growing managed service provider (MSP) with a focus on bringing cloud strategy, security, and support to customers’ Amazon Web Services (AWS) environments. SmileShark’s customer base began with the gaming industry and has also expanded to startups, small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs), and public sector clients.

SmileShark’s leadership team includes engineers from top-tier gaming companies. They knew that they needed a cloud management tool to help their customers optimize AWS costs. Shortly after the company’s inception, they began using CloudCheckr now from Spot by NetApp to optimize, modernize, and manage customer workloads running on AWS.

With CloudCheckr, SmileShark has achieved month-over-month savings as high as 80% for gaming customers and reduced one gaming company’s AWS bill from $300,000 to $100,000 a month. SmileShark’s startup and SMB customers have also seen the cost saving capabilities in CloudCheckr CMx through detailed Reserved Instance purchasing recommendations. The company currently supports more than 150 AWS customers across gaming, startup, and SMB segments, and that number is growing fast.


Challenges for a Rapidly Growing AWS Partner

From day one, SmileShark rapidly grew into a strategic AWS Partner in Korea. In September 2020, SmileShark became one of the fastest AWS Partners upgraded to an AWS Advanced Tier Consulting Partner. In the company’s first two years alone, they became an AWS Solution Provider and an AWS Public Sector Partner, and they have been technically validated in three AWS Service Delivery Programs for Amazon CloudFront, Amazon EC2 for Windows Server, and Amazon RDS. In 2021, SmileShark received an AWS Rising Star of the Year Award from AWS Korea for their outstanding performance.

That expertise has helped SmileShark attract customers and differentiate themselves from the competition. However, early on, SmileShark’s leaders recognized the need for other tools to stand out in the market. They sought out a high-quality cloud management solution to conduct efficient and accurate billing and optimize customer costs.

“One of our employees had already experienced a cloud management platform,” said Moowon Kim, Global Business Development Manager at SmileShark. “We knew that to run our business on AWS, we needed a cloud management platform.”

Kim and team researched several cloud management platforms, including both local and global solutions. SmileShark chose CloudCheckr CMx because it supports all AWS regions and would help them expand their reach globally. Within mere days after founding the company, SmileShark began building a robust tech stack that includes CloudCheckr CMx to help manage clients’ costs. With the efficient billing and cost management tools in CloudCheckr CMx, SmileShark was able to go to market promptly and see rapid growth in the AWS Partner ecosystem.


Efficient Cost Allocation Through Savings Plans

With CloudCheckr CMx in place, SmileShark immediately accelerated their growth. One of the biggest attractors to CloudCheckr was the ability for SmileShark to better allocate costs for their customers. With the List Price Translation feature in CloudCheckr CMx, SmileShark could charge customers appropriately for bundled services, including Reserved Instances and Savings Plans.

This feature was important, Kim said, because compared to other solutions, “CloudCheckr actually helped to provide the correct usages and prices.”

CloudCheckr began supporting AWS Savings Plans in November 2019, the same month that AWS introduced this discount for purchase commitments. This timing was ideal for SmileShark to help them take advantage of these discounts. The feature gives SmileShark a way to apply custom charges in the right places so that they and their customers receive the benefits of these discounts.

Kim also said that he regularly checks the Advanced Grouping report in CloudCheckr CMx. This report helps SmileShark group costs by multiple categories to generate more detailed breakdowns of AWS costs, including blended, unblended, and list costs as well as AWS credits.


Cost Optimization Success Stories

In addition to the cost allocation features in CloudCheckr CMx, SmileShark has also used the platform to help customers optimize costs. In some cases, these cost optimization tools have helped SmileShark’s customers decrease cloud costs by 67% or more month-over-month.

Gaming companies are drawn to the elasticity of the cloud, Kim said, because their demand changes over time. They tend to dramatically increase AWS workloads over a period of several months to a year as they accept a large number of new users. Often, when a company launches a new game, they need less computing power during the development and testing phases and then much more after launch as new users sign up and begin playing. After a few months, demand naturally decreases, and so does the need for additional CPU.

For one gaming company, Kim explained, SmileShark lowered their monthly cost from over $300,000 to about $100,000. The company wanted to launch their game service through AWS, starting in November with testing and launching in February.

“The customer noticed a while later that the CPU was overprovisioned, so we checked all the resources in CloudCheckr,” Kim said. “It was quite easy to check how many instances they have and all the other components.”

This company wasn’t the only SmileShark customer wasting resources. CloudCheckr’s reports showed another company with unused EC2 instances. After optimization, SmileShark reduced the client’s monthly costs from $100,000 to just $20,000 a month — an 80% decrease.

Other SmileShark customers across industries have seen greater cost optimization with CloudCheckr. The startups and SMBs working with SmileShark typically increase their workloads and users slowly but steadily over a long period of time. For these customers, Kim explained, CloudCheckr serves as an integral cost saving tool by providing Reserved Instance purchasing recommendations.


Deeper Insights and Increased Visibility into AWS Environments

Kim said that SmileShark employees have found it very easy to see resources in CloudCheckr versus uncovering savings in AWS native tools. He explained that in AWS it can sometimes be difficult to identify older resources. “Faster optimization is really important for our customers,” said Kim. “CloudCheckr helps us to check their resources easily.”

Kim said that he uses the Cost Savings report in CloudCheckr to see possible monthly savings, easily check idle and unused resources, and review Reserved Instance purchasing recommendations.

“SmileShark has a lot of accounts to optimize,” Kim said. “We’re checking through Cost Savings, and it’s way faster [than native tools]. I really like to use the Cost Savings report in CloudCheckr CMx to check their idle resources.”


Continued Growth with CloudCheckr

SmileShark is continuing to grow and expand into other markets. Kim said that the company is planning to grow their AWS partnership and working toward becoming an AWS Premier Consulting Partner, the highest tier awarded.

As SmileShark grows, Kim said he plans to look at the security and compliance features in CloudCheckr CMx to help expand their solutions. These tools are invaluable, he said, for an AWS Consulting Partner and for businesses working to deepen their AWS partnerships.

Kim also expressed gratitude for the one-on-one support and training that CloudCheckr account representatives provide for SmileShark. He said the technical support reps are just an email away, and the CloudCheckr team is always receptive to feedback and ideas for new services. Additionally, the regular meetings every two weeks with the CloudCheckr team, said Kim, are “really helping our business.”

SmileShark, a fast-growing managed services startup from South Korea, has partnered with CloudCheckr to optimize customers’ Amazon Web Services (AWS) costs and ensure efficient, accurate billing operations.