AWS Cost: 8 Tools and Tips to Reduce Your Cloud Costs

Amazon Web Services (AWS) offers cloud services that help organizations reduce IT costs and achieve global scale. AWS provides a wide range of global cloud offerings, including compute, database, storage, analytics and deployment. These cloud services offer the ability to optimize costs according to changing needs.

AWS provides a number of services, resources and tools built to help you organize and track AWS costs and usage data. For example, access permission tools and consolidated billing models enable you to gain greater control, accurately plan budgets and estimate forecasts.

In this article:

4 AWS Cost Management Tools

  1. Billing and Cost Management Console
  2. AWS Cost Explorer
  3. AWS Budgets
  4. AWS Pricing Calculator

4 AWS Cost Optimization Tips

  1. Choose the Appropriate AWS Region
  2. Create Schedules to Turn Off Unused Instances
  3. Monitor the Use of Storage
  4. Leverage Spot Instances, Reserved Instances and Savings Plans with Spot by NetApp

 

4 AWS Cost Management Tools

Here are several AWS cost management tools offered by AWS:

To learn other ways to reduce your cloud costs, see our detailed guide to AWS cost savings

1. Billing and Cost Management Console

The Amazon Console contains a billing section that lets you view the services your account consumes on AWS, as well as optimize the structure of the services. You can use tags to organize AWS services by department or project. You can also consolidate several AWS accounts into one billing entity of each project. Each identity has its own budget within the organization.

AWS lets you set up a single bill for all of your accounts. A single bill can help you easily track overall expenses and monitor spending across several accounts. You can trace costs from each account and access the expense data in a CSV file.

Note that the Master Account within a unified billing family pays costs accumulated by all other accounts. 

2. AWS Cost Explorer

The Cost Explorer interface enables you to view costs, usage and return on investment (ROI) for AWS services. The interface displays data for the past 13 months and can help you forecast your future spend. You can use the interface to create customized views, which can help further analyze your AWS costs and also identify certain areas for improvement. Additionally, the AWS Cost Explorer provides an API, which enables you to access data through your existing analytics tools.

Learn more in our detailed guide to the AWS Cost Explorer (coming soon)

3. AWS Budgets

AWS Budgets can help you set and enforce budgets for each AWS service. When budgets are exceeded or reached, you can receive messages or emails from the Simple Notification Service (SNS). You can define an overall cost budget or connect a budget to certain data points, including data usage or the number of instances. The tool provides dashboard views similar to those generated by the Cost Explorer, displaying how each service is used compared to its budget. 

4. AWS Pricing Calculator

AWS Pricing Calculator enables you to estimate the cost of use cases on AWS. It lets you generate monthly cost estimates for all regions supported by a certain service. You can model a solution before building it, explore the pricing points and calculations of your estimate, as well as find available instance types and contract terms that meet your requirements. This can help you make informed decisions, plan your AWS cost and usage, as well as estimate the costs of setting up a new set of instances and services.

 

4 AWS Cost Optimization Tips

Here are some tips to help you optimize your AWS usage and costs.

1. Choose the Appropriate AWS Region

To use the AWS Management Console, CLI or SDK, you must first choose a region. Most users base this decision on distance. However, the AWS region you choose also affects costs, latency and availability. Here are several aspects to consider when choosing the right AWS region for your project:

    • Costs—each AWS region is priced differently. You can view official on-demand pricing on the AWS site, but make sure to use the cost calculator to estimate your costs when using a certain region.
    • Latency—regions with smaller latency can help make the application more accessible to a certain group of users.
    • Service availability—not all AWS services are made available to all regions. Before choosing a particular region, make sure the target AWS service is available in this region.
    • Availability—using multiple AWS regions can improve availability and enable you to create a separate disaster recovery site.
    • Data sovereignty—when you store data in a specific geographical location, your organization must comply with that location’s legal requirements for the data. This is an important consideration for locating your sensitive data.

When accounting for all above aspects, you can prioritize them to choose the most important aspect and let it guide you as you choose a region.

2. Create Schedules to Turn Off Unused Instances 

When optimizing your AWS costs, you must pay attention to unused instances and shut them down. Here are several practices to consider:

  • Shut down unused instances at the end of a working day or during weekends and vacations. 
  • When optimizing non-production instances, you should prepare on and off hours in advance. 
  • Evaluate usage metrics and then decide when instances are frequently used. You can then implement more accurate schedules. Alternatively, you can apply an always-stopped schedule, which you can disrupt when providing access to these instances. 
  • Determine whether you are paying for EBS quantities as well as other relevant elements while your instances are not in use.

3. Monitor the Use of Storage

Monitoring can help you track actual usage and identify pricing patterns. AWS lets you monitor S3 usage via the S3 Analytics tool, which evaluates storage access patterns on a specific object dataset for a duration of 30 days or more.

The S3 Analytics tool offers recommendations that can help you leverage S3 Infrequently Accessed (S3 IA), AWS Glacier, or AWS Glacier Deep Archive for cost reduction. 

You can then use lifecycle policies to automate the transfer of objects into a lower cost storage tier. Alternatively, you can use S3 Intelligent-Tiering for automatic analysis and transfer of objects with unknown or dynamic usage duration into a relevant storage tier.

Learn more in our in-depth guide to AWS cost optimization (coming soon)

4. Leverage Spot Instances, Reserved Instances and Savings Plans with Spot by NetApp

A great way to save costs on AWS is leveraging Savings Plans, RIs and spot instances. However, these can be difficult to manage and may end up being poorly utilized.

Spot by NetApp addresses these challenges, allowing you to reliably use spot instances for production and mission-critical workloads as well as enjoy the long-term pricing of RIs without the risks of long-term commitment. 

Key features of Spot by NetApp’s cloud financial management suite include:

  • Predictive rebalancing—identifies spot instance interruptions up to an hour in advance, allowing for graceful draining and workload placement on new instances, whether spot, reserved or on-demand.  Rebalancing features, including minimum instance lifetime and the ability to revert to on-demand, maintain high availability.
  • Predictive auto scaling—simplifies the process of defining scaling policies, identifying peak times, automatically scaling to ensure the right capacity in advance. Driven by a predictive machine learning algorithm, scaling responds to changing workload requirements for fully-utilized infrastructure. 
  • Optimized cost and performance—keeps your cluster running at the best possible performance while using the optimal mix of on-demand, spot and reserved capacity. 
  • Enterprise-grade SLAs—constantly monitors and predicts spot instance behavior, capacity trends, pricing, and interruption rates. Acts in advance to add capacity whenever there is a risk of interruption.
  • Serverless containers—allows you to run your Kubernetes and container workloads on fully utilized and highly available compute infrastructure while leveraging spot instances, Savings Plans and RIs for extreme cost savings.
  • Intelligent and flexible utilization of AWS Savings Plans and RIs—ensures that whenever there are unused reserved capacity resources, these will be used before spinning up new spot instances, driving maximum cost-efficiency. Additionally, RIs and Savings Plans are fully managed from planning and procurement to offloading unused capacity when no longer needed, so your long-term cloud commitments always generate maximum savings.
  • Visibility and recommendations—lets you visualize all your cloud spend with the ability to drill-down based on the broadest range of criteria from tags, accounts, services to namespaces, annotations, labels, and more for containerized workloads as well as receive cost reduction recommendations that can be implemented in a few clicks. 

Learn more about Spot by NetApp’s cloud financial management solutions