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January 30, 2023 | 2 min read
FinOps - Six Ways to Lower your AWS Spend Today
Kane Daniel

Kane Daniel

Head of Savings

Kane Daniel is the Head of Savings at Usage AI, a cloud savings company based out of New York.
<p>Saving on AWS, while simply in philosophy, is remarkably more difficult in practice.</p>
FinOps for those in a Rush

As always, the best way to effectively optimize your cloud spend is to foster a culture of cost accountability within your organization. This starts with education and awareness, processes and systems that reinforce this culture, and empowering teams with the resources they need to make informed decisions.

Now what if you need to start saving today? Instituting and maintaining a cloud-cost consciousness across your organization isn’t exactly the quickest (nor easiest) task to undertake. 

Chances are if you’re an engineer reading this, you’re short on both time and bandwidth to tackle the above, which is why I’m happy to share 6 FinOps tips that can quickly help you lower your AWS costs!

Compute Optimizations

1) Turn your On-Demand instances off

If you want to get yourself out of a hole, the first thing you have to do is put down the shovel. The same can be said for reducing your AWS spend. Forgetting to turn off your On-Demand instances that are no longer in use can seriously rack up unnecessary costs, because irregardless of how much of the CPU the machine is using, it is being charged at the On-Demand rate. To help configure stop start schedules for your instances, consider using the AWS Instance Scheduler

2) Use Spot Instances

For fault tolerant workloads, consider deploying Spot Instances. Spot instances are spare EC2 capacity that can be bid on by organizations to achieve cost savings of up to 90% vs. the On-Demand rate. However, Spot Instance prices fluctuate based on market demand, and if the bid price is exceeded, the instance will be requisitioned from you by AWS and provisioned to another customer who bid a higher price for the same resource. 

3) Use Reserved Instances

Reserved Instances offer an immediate way to stop paying the On-Demand rate for your compute resources. In exchange for committing to either a 1 or 3 year term, AWS provides significantly discounted hourly rates of up to 75% for your workloads. This is ideal for predictable workloads with steady usage patterns, but a question persists - What if you can’t forecast your usage patterns out the 1 or 3 years necessary for Reserved Instances to be a sensible option? 

For cases like this, consider consulting with us at Usage AI. We underwrite Reservation purchases - in the event you’ve overcommitted to capacity, our platform automatically exchanges the remainder of that commitment with another AWS customer!

Storage Optimizations

1) Consider using S3 Intelligent Tiering

The S3 Intelligent-Tiering storage class by Amazon reduces storage expenses through automatically transferring data to the most cost-efficient access tier as access patterns evolve. By paying a nominal monthly fee for object monitoring and automation, S3 Intelligent-Tiering tracks access behavior and automatically transfers objects that haven't been accessed to lower-priced access tiers. 

2) Set-up S3 Lifecycle Policies 

Similar to the above but minus the monthly fee to AWS, setting up S3 Lifecycle policies will lower AWS costs by automatically moving objects to lower-cost storage classes as they age, reducing storage and retrieval costs. These policies can archive or delete objects no longer needed and transition infrequently accessed data to lower-cost classes like S3 Glacier, effectively managing S3 object lifecycles and reducing storage expenses.

3) Migrating EBS Volumes from GP2 to GP3

Migrating EBS volumes from GP2 to GP3 in AWS is a cost-saving strategy that offers lower costs and better performance. GP3 provides up to 20% lower costs and improved burst performance compared to GP2. The migration process involves creating a snapshot, creating a GP3 volume from the snapshot, and replacing the GP2 volume. The process can be done without affecting application availability and provides a cost-effective way to lower storage costs and improve performance.


And there you have it! Six ways you can start saving on AWS costs today. 

Of course, the biggest driver of cost savings is by designing a sensible architecture. With this in mind, it’s best to understand these 6 FinOps tips as band-aids that will allow you more time to tackle the much bigger surgical tasks of 1) re-architecting your AWS environment and 2) instituting an organization-wide cloud-cost consciousness in your everyday workflow. 

Every journey begins with a single step, and in this case, here are six steps you can take today! 

Kane Daniel

Kane Daniel

Head of Savings

Kane Daniel is the Head of Savings at Usage AI, a cloud savings company based out of New York.
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