The point of Amazon Web Services is that it takes us nearer to perfect market conditions for buying computing resources.
How? By improving the liquidity of resources and the access to information. All units of production – processing power, storage, memory and networking – are broken down into the smallest possible tradeable units. Meanwhile, you have the best possible information with which to make optimum purchasing decisions. Whether you make the perfect decision is another matter.
Here are the five ways to make the most of AWS:
An instance is a unit of computing, the modern equivalent of buying a PC. Those purchases were never easy to get right were they? Though AWS has made it a lot easier to guesstimate your size, there is still room for error.
When purchasing any computing you’re faced with the perennial gamble. How big should your instances be? Do you need just the one? How will track your resources? Every installation is different, so if you got it right first time it would be miraculous.
It’s your job to make sure you don’t over-provision your project or you’ll be wasting your money. The beauty of AWS, of course, is that you can monitor your use and manage it. Start with your AWS account’s billing page.
Once you have made your judgement call on your Instance, there are still three ways to control your AWS costs.
On-Demand Instances allow you to pay for computing power at a fixed rate, by the hour, with no commitment. These are good for first timers but expensive if you become a heavy user.
If you are sure enough to make a commitment to longer term contracts, reserved Instances will save you money by giving you a big discount on the above.
More experienced users will buy Spot Instances which let them bid for instance capacity when it becomes available at the price they like, with capacity being cheaper when there is less demand. The flip side of this is that you may be dropped at times of peak demand. If your apps can be flexible over their start and finish times and you can put up with service interruptions when the price of capacity is above your limit, this could save you a fortune.
It’s often best to use these three options in combination.
It’s reassuring that your Amazon elastic block storage (EBS) volumes can be backed up to Amazon S3 through regular snapshots of the state of your system. But the more you do this, the higher your costs will be. Learn to run EBS snapshots in moderation and you’ll save on both capacity and management time.
Hugging the Elastic
With AWS you get one Elastic IP (EIP) address free, but all extra EIPs are charged on an hourly basis. Be aware that these EIPs, which are grabbed when needed, are not automatically released when you are done with them. Always make sure you aren’t keeping unused EIPs on your payroll.
Monitor and Manage
Amazon CloudWatch tracks metrics, log files and can set alarms. This intelligence informs Auto Scaling systems, which add and remove Amazon EC2 instances automatically, according to your own metrics. The more complex your infrastructure, the more CloudWatch will save you.
Billing Alerts will warn you when your monthly costs reach a certain predetermined threshold.