Reduce Your Amazon EC2 Cloud Charges
The Biggest difference between standard web hosting and cloud-based hosting can be seen when you get the monthly bill. A standard web host, like GoDaddy, will charge you a flat monthly fee and give you access to a single, fixed server. Whereas a cloud-based host, like Amazon EC2 will charge you at a granular level for each compute asset you use, whether it’s bandwidth, CPU or storage. This can lead to a confusing monthly bill (ever tried to use Amazon’s “simple” cost calculator?), but also offers the opportunities to save money by being more astute with your resource utilization.
I have now been running my business on EC2 for 6 months, and was able to cut my monthly charges by almost 80%.
How? Just follow these 3 easy steps:
1) Be prudent with what you consume. Cloud providers will charge you for exactly what you use. So unlike the standard hosting (Godaddy etc..), it actually pays to be frugal and to use less. Consume less and pay less.
- You will see an immediate reduction in your EC2 bills if you: Ensure your server is being frugal with bandwidth. Cache images client-side with long expiry times, gzip the content you publish and use CSS sprites for image delivery. Just enabling these 3 attributes on your server can save huge amounts of bandwidth and this will be reflected in your costs.
- Use smaller servers that cost less per month. Most developers come from the mindset that the infrastructure is fixed, and therefore you should select infrastructure that will last you several years. But the advantage of cloud computing is that you can upsize your servers on-demand. Use the smallest, weakest server you can find, and scale it up only when you start to max out your CPU capacity (use Amazon Cloudwatch to notify you of high CPU loading).
2) Lock in your servers. If you are using Amazon EC2 then you are likely using it for the flexibility of scaling your front-end infrastructure. More customers — no problem, just add another front-end server to take that load. But certain assets, like your database server, will likely be untouched for years, needlessly accumulating on-demand Amazon charges. Move your fixed assets from on-demand pricing to Amazon’s reserved instance pricing. This simple pricing change, enabled by a tick-box in the EC2 console, can save you almost 50% on your annual server costs.
3) Re-evaluation your application needs. Many developers migrate existing in-house solutions and continue running them in the exact same state in the Amazon cloud. But cloud penalties are heavy when costly licenses are involved (ie. Windows SQL Standard is significantly more costly than SQL Express, which is itself more costly than Amazon RDS). Those licenses you own in-house for MSDN don’t migrate with you to the cloud, so make consideration for a re-architecture as part of your move.
By Simon Ellis
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