Unveiling Hidden Savings: Cost Optimization Techniques for AWS Users

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The convenience of instantly available, infinitely scalable AWS cloud resources delivers immense business value. But convenience comes at a cost reflected in monthly bills that can quickly spiral out of control without careful governance.

This guide shines the spotlight on often overlooked strategies to optimize your AWS footprint and keep cloud budgets firmly under control, including:

  • Architecting Systems for Cost Efficiency
  • Right Sizing AWS Assets
  • Embracing Auto Scaling and Serverless
  • Analyzing Spend Patterns and Trends
  • Buying Discounts without Upfront Commitments
  • Accessing Unused EC2 Capacity via Spot
  • Enforcing Policy Driven Optimization
  • Tapping the Power of Cloud Financial Tools
  • Getting Accountability through Granular Visibility
  • FAQ on Controlling Cloud Costs

Applying these techniques unveils hidden savings to tame AWS expenses sustainably. Let’s get started!

Architecting Systems for Cost Efficiency

Certain architecture patterns enable vastly better cost efficiency on AWS:

Microservices over Monoliths

Decomposing business capabilities into independently scalable microservices avoids overprovisioning for infrequently used functions. Granularly scale what you need.

Serverless First Approach

Leverage serverless offerings like Lambda, AppSync and DynamoDB by default to eliminate paying for idle capacity when workloads vary. Only pay for actual compute consumed.

Ephemeral Infrastructure

Rebuild systems through code instead of manual instance management. This template driven approach makes scaling easier through immutable infrastructure vs accumulating stateful servers requiring maintenance.

Right Sizing AWS Assets

A major pitfall is oversized instances, databases and overprovisioned serverless infrastructure wasting money from unused capacity paid for. Right size by:

● Monitoring usage data to derive realistic resource needs
● Resizing instances to increase utilization and reduce waste
● Consolidating workloads onto larger instances where possible
● Load testing and benchmarks to optimize capacity

Every % utilization increased saves money that adds up.

Embracing Auto Scaling and Serverless

Fixed clusters seem simpler to manage but get drastically over or under provisioned for variable workloads. Embrace auto-scaling groups and serverless offerings like Lambda to trigger automated scaling based on metrics like:

● CPU and memory usage thresholds
● Incoming requests and latency indicators
● Time based schedules to meet daily/weekly peaks and troughs

You pay only for active resources needed moment to moment.

Analyzing Spend Patterns and Trends

Getting historical visibility into spend categories, trends and usage patterns enables shaping future consumption:

● Slice usage data across services, tags, regions etc
● Identify spikes indicating opportunities to throttle provisioning
● Detect ghost resources contributing to unexpected charges
● Forecast future spend based on projections

This intelligence precipitates action to curb spend growth.

Buying Discounts without Upfront Commitments

Balance cost predictability with flexibility by leveraging Savings Plans for 1 to 3 year commitments discounted up to 72% automatically when used – no up front payments required. Applies to a wider range of services vs just EC2 for Reserved Instances.

Accessing Unused EC2 Capacity via Spot

Leverage unused EC2 capacity in the Spot Market at discounts over 90%. Define max price then access additional capacity for fault tolerant workloads like batch processing, Dev environments or data analysis where interruptions are acceptable.

Enforcing Policy Driven Optimization

Manual oversight struggles with cloud scale and complexity. Policy driven automation eliminates waste by:

● Shutting down inactive resources past set time thresholds
● Terminating stale forgotten resources
● Alerting on launch configs violating governance standards
● Continuously validating security settings across environments

Such rules supplement human judgment for continuous optimization.

Tapping the Power of Cloud Financial Tools

Evolve beyond manual reporting and governance by leveraging purpose built cloud cost analytics tools like Apptio Cloudability, Cloudhealth, ParkMyCloud and AWS’s own Cost Explorer. Core capabilities:

● Granular visibility into usage and spending
● Custom reporting across tags, accounts, services etc
● Budgets with alerts and recommendations
● RI simulation for capacity planning
● Automating policy enforcement

This overviews actuals vs plans prompting action.

Getting Accountability through Granular Visibility

You can’t manage what you don’t measure. Granular cloud cost visibility, chargeback and accountability across business units is pivotal through:

● Resource tagging and allocation of shared costs
● Matching spend to departments/projects
● Cost alert thresholds to notify stakeholder on anomalies
● Empowering teams to optimize their resources from breakdowns

This circulates data prompting responsibility for controlling expenses.

FAQ on Controlling Cloud Costs

Here are some frequent questions on optimizing cloud spends:

Should I buy RIs or Savings Plans for discounts?

Savings Plans provide flexibility across multiple services while RIs focus just on specific EC2 instances. Blend both approaches based on steady usage for RIs vs variable capacity needing Savings Plans.

When does it make sense to use Spot Instances?

For fault tolerant batch processing, data analysis and development environments where interruptions are acceptable, Spot Instances make sense for extreme discounts. Set max prices below on-demand rates.

What are some key cloud cost optimization tools?

Leading solutions include Cloudability Optimize, CloudHealth, ParkMyCloud, AWS Cost Explorer etc. Core features are granular analytics, custom reporting, budgeting, notifications and automation of policy enforcement.

How do you prevent cloud sticker shock?

Institute usage alerts, monitor overall consumption trends, enforce active ownership of expenses by department and nurture an organization wide culture focused on cost consciousness, not just engineering velocity.


Migrating systems to the public cloud unlocks immense potential. But to sustainably maximize ROI, companies must layer in financial governance, architect systems for efficiency, tap into discounts and analytics tools plus continually optimize.

Applying the hidden savings techniques outlined here will help slashed wasted expenditures throughDUPONT-ized direction. Savvy cloud cost management fuels innovation by freeing up budget better spent on differentiated efforts.

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