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Hidden Gems to Save you Money in the Cloud

Everyone talks about the big ways you can save in the cloud: committed use discounts (GCP), reserved instances / savings plans (AWS) or savings plans (Azure).  What they don’t talk about enough is the potential wasted dollars that can occur if you don’t do proper “house cleaning” of your resources. The cloud service providers are great at letting you spin-up resources but not so great at letting you know when you are wasting money.

Assuming you have leveraged the committed use discounts, RIs and savings plans (read our blogs for more on those cloud savings approaches), here are a few more tips and tricks to save money.

Cloud waste tip 1: Load balancers

In AWS, the job of the Elastic Load Balancer (ELB) is to balance the workloads coming into it from various servers.  If the ELB becomes unhealthy or doesn’t have any servers to send traffic to, effectively it is a wasted resource and can be stopped.

If you have an AWS support plan, you can use Trusted Advisor to help determine if the ELB is functioning and, if not, shut it down. Or you can use CloudWatch metrics to determine if the ELB is functioning as desired. Shutting down unused ELBs is an easy way to reduce your cloud costs. 

Cloud waste tip 2: S3 snapshots

Azure, AWS and GCP all allow you to take a snapshot of your disk. Snapshots are helpful for backups or for a point-in-time reference if a restore is needed to recover your system. Snapshots are easy to take but they are not free. If you have numerous snapshots in your account, check if they are needed or not: you are being charged for them.

Here is a great example of how snapshots costs can really add up. A client had a Citrix environment taking snapshots every day. Thousands of snapshots were being taken all around the world.  A little detective work revealed many images that were not needed. Deleting the unused snapshots saved them thousands of dollars a month.

Cloud waste tip 3: S3 lifecycle policies

Compared to a 1980 10 MB disk drive that cost $3,495, disk storage in the cloud is very cheap. But still, it adds up. The cost for standard storage is about $2.30 per 100 GB for a month. If you know you will not need the files, you can move them in AWS to a lower cost storage class with a lifecycle policy.  

Lifecycle policies are simply rules you set up to move the files from one storage class to another. If know you won't need a file after a period of time, set an expiration action to delete the file. You can use the AWS Pricing Calculator for exact pricing and savings between classes. 

For example, Glacier deep archive will only cost $0.10 for 100 GB per month. Those 1980 IT nerds would be flipping out at these prices! 

Cloud waste tip 4: Elastic IP addresses, multiple failed uploads and data transfer costs  

There are many ways to unintentionally incur extra costs.

Unused IP Addresses. GCP, AWS and Azure all want to ensure efficient use of Elastic/Static IP(EIP) addresses. There is no cost to use the CSP’s EIP. You simply associate the EIP to the server. But if you allocate an EIP and don’t attach it to a server, they will charge you for the EIP until it is associated with a running instance. They will also charge you if it is associated with a stopped instance. Best practice is to only use what you need and delete what is not used. 

Failed multipart uploads. When you are copying a large file (>5 GB) to AWS, it will upload the file in parts. When the parts arrive, AWS will put the file together. If the file parts don’t arrive, the file parts are kept on disk for 31 days. During this time, you are paying for the storage. If you don’t plan to re-upload the file, delete the multipart that is left on the disk.   

Data transfer costs. When on-prem, you can easily move large files between systems at no cost. Your company owns the networking and disk, so it’s easy to move between systems. In the cloud, moving data costs can add up if you don’t understand the cost structure.   

The way to remember is the old commercial of the Black Flag Roach Motel: “Roaches check in but they don’t check out.” In cloud terms, it’s free to upload your data, but getting it out will cost you!   

Here are some sample notes on the cost structure. The costs are significantly higher when moving data from AWS across the Internet.

  • Data transfer between AWS and the internet
    • Inbound: No charge
    • Outbound: Approximately $0.05 to $0.09
  • Data transfer within the same AWS region in the U.S.
    • Charged at $0.01/GB in each direction. 
  • Data transfer across regions
    • Inbound: No charge
    • Outbound: Approx $0.02/GB 

Eliminate cloud waste, save money
There are many places to incur costs in the cloud. Understanding how and where those costs are incurred and poking into the nooks and crannies where cloud waste hides will give you greater control over cloud spend. Eliminating cloud waste can add up to significant savings.  

Need help getting started? Contact us. We are happy to discuss your cloud environment and review the best options for cost savings opportunities.