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      Reduce Your AWS Public Cloud Spend with DIY Strategies and Managed Services


      “My AWS bill last month was the price of a car.” A CIO of a Fortune 500 company in the Bay Area said this to me about five years ago. I was new to California and it seemed like everyone was driving a BMW or Mercedes, but the bill could have been equivalent to the cost of a Ferrari or Maserati for all I knew. Regardless, I concluded that the bill was high. Since then, I have been on a mission to research and identify how to help customers optimize their public cloud costs.

      Shifting some of your workloads to public cloud platforms such as AWS or Microsoft Azure can seem like common-sense economics, as public cloud empowers your organization to scale resources as needed. In theory, you pay for what you use, thus saving money. Right?

      Not necessarily. Unless you are vigilant and diligent, cloud spend through over provisioning, forgetting to turn off unwanted resources, not picking the right combination of instances, racking up data egress fees, and so on, can quickly make costs go awry. But public cloud cost optimization does not have to be esoteric or a long arduous road. Let’s demystify and explore ways to potentially reduce your cloud spend.

      AWS Goes Awry
      This comic got a few laughs and comments when I posted it on LinkedIn. But in all seriousness, this is a real problem, which is why I’m delving into cost optimization and the gotchas to watch out for. Source.

      Optimizing Your AWS Data Transfer Costs

      For some organizations, a large percentage of cloud spend can be attributed to network traffic/data transfer costs. It is prudent to be cognizant of the data transfer costs within availability zones (AZs), within regions, between regions and into and out of AWS and the internet. Pricing may vary considerably depending on your design or implementation selection.

      Common Misconceptions and Things to Look Out For

      • Cross-AZ traffic is not free: Utilizing multiple AZs for high availability (HA) is a good idea; however cross AZ traffic costs add up. If feasible, optimize your traffic to stay within the same AZ as much as possible.
        • EC2 traffic between AZs is effectively the same as between regions. For example, deploying a cluster across AZs is beneficial for HA, but can hurt on network costs.
      • Free services? Free is good: Several AWS services offer a hidden value of free cross-AZ data transfer. Databases such as EFS, RDS, MSK and others are examples of this.
      • Utilizing public IPs when not required: If you use an elastic IP or public IP address of an EC2 instance, you will incur network costs, even if it is accessed locally within the AZ.
      • Managed NAT Gateway: Managed NAT Gateways are used to let traffic egress from private subnets—at a cost of 4.5 cents as a data processing fee layered on top of data transfer pricing. At some point, consider running your own NAT instances to optimize your cloud spend.
      • The figure below provides an overview:
      aws-data-transfer-costs
      Image source.

      Other Cloud Cost Optimization Suggestions by AWS Category

      • Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2)
        • Purchase savings plans for baseline capacity
        • Verify that instance type still reflects the current workload
        • Verify that the maximum I/O performance of the instance matches with the EBS volumes
        • Use Spot Instances for stateless and non-production workloads
        • Make use of AMD or ARM based instances
        • Switch to Amazon Linux or any other Operating System that is Open Source
      • Virtual Private Cloud (VPC)
        • Create VPC endpoints for S3 and DynamoDB
        • Check costs for NAT gateways and change architecture if necessary
        • Check costs for traffic between AZs and reduce traffic when possible
        • Try to avoid VPC endpoints for other services
      • Simple Storage Service (S3)
        • Delete unnecessary objects and buckets
        • Consider using S3 Intelligent Tiering
        • Configure lifecycle policies define a retention period for objects
        • Use Glacier Deep Archive for long-term data archiving
      • Elastic Block Storage (EBS)
        • Delete snapshots created to backup data that are no longer needed
        • Check whether your backup solution deletes old snapshots
        • Delete snapshots belonging to unused AMI
        • Search for unused volumes and delete them

      Alternatives to DIY Public Cloud Cost Optimization

      As I’ve shown, there are more than a few ways to optimize public cloud cost on your own. And if you were to look for more information on the topic, Googling “Optimizing AWS costs” will fetch more than 50 million results, and Googling “optimizing MS Azure costs” will get you more than 58 million results. My eyes are still bleeding from sifting through just a few of them.

      Do you really have time to examine 100 million articles? Do it yourself (DIY) can have some advantages if you have the time or expertise on staff. If not, there are alternatives to explore. 

      Third-Party Optimization Services

      Several companies offer services designed to help you gain insights into expenses or lower your AWS bill, such as Cloudability, CloudHealth Technologies and ParkMyCloud. Some of these charge a percentage of your bill, which may be expensive.

      Managed Cloud Service Providers

      You can also opt for a trusted managed public cloud provider who staffs certified AWS and MS Azure engineers that know the ins and outs of cost optimization for these platforms.

      Advantages of partnering with a Managed Cloud service provider:

      • Detect/investigate accidental spend or cost anomalies
      • Proactively design/build scalable, secure, resilient and cost-effective architecture
      • Reduce existing cloud spend
      • Report on Cloud spend and ROI
      • Segment Cloud costs by teams, product or category

      INAP’s experts are ready to assist you. With INAP Managed AWS, certified engineers and architects help you secure, maintain and optimize public cloud environments so your team can devote its efforts to the applications hosted there. We also offer services for Managed Azure to help you make the most of your public cloud resources.

      Explore INAP Managed Services.

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      Ahmed Ragab


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      Microsoft Licensing Changes: How Will Bring Your Own License in AWS be Affected?


      The option to deploy “on-premises” Microsoft software on any provider’s cloud without Software Assurance and License Mobility rights is now a thing of the past. In August, Microsoft updated its licensing terms, which went into effect on October 1, 2019. Under the updated terms, Windows licenses purchased without Software Assurance and License Mobility rights cannot be deployed on services offered by several public cloud providers.

      “The emergence of dedicated hosted cloud services has blurred the line between traditional outsourcing and cloud services and has led to the use of on-premises licenses on cloud services,” Microsoft said in a statement when the changes were first announced. “As a result, we’re updating the outsourcing terms for Microsoft on-premises licenses.”

      Microsoft noted that these updated terms create a clearer distinction between on-premises/traditional outsourcing and cloud services. Another goal of the changes is to create consistency in licensing terms across multitenant and dedicated cloud services.

      The changes, according to Microsoft, will allow the firm to better compete with other dedicated offerings from hyperscale cloud companies. The licensing change is applicable to the following providers:

      • Microsoft
      • Alibaba
      • Amazon (including VMware Cloud on AWS)
      • Google

      What does this mean for you?

      As of October 1, 2019, you can no longer bring your own Windows Licensing to the above providers without Software Assurance and License Mobility rights.

      This includes, but is not limited to, the following:

      • Windows Server Standard/Enterprise
      • Windows SQL Server Standard/Enterprise
      • System Center Server

      Options for Bringing Licenses to AWS

      Do you have Microsoft licenses you’ve brought to AWS, or are you currently considering bringing your own license? Consider your options:

      Without Software Assurance and licensing purchased prior to October 1, 2019—You can access hardware dedicated to your use if you’re using Amazon EC2 Dedicated Hosts, which makes it possible to bring Microsoft software licenses without Software Assurance or License Mobility benefits. However, these licenses must be purchased prior to October 1, 2019, and cannot be upgraded to versions released after October 1, 2019 in order to stay eligible.

      With Software Assurance—With Microsoft License Mobility through Software Assurance, you’re allowed to bring many Microsoft software licenses into AWS Cloud – e.g., for use with Amazon EC2 instances.

      Purchase licensing via AWS—Running a cost-analysis with publicly available pricing, this is the least cost-effective option, due to recurring monthly subscription fees. However, it is convenient. Not only does Amazon manage licensing compliance, they support many legacy versions of Microsoft software.

      Future Proofing Your Hybrid Cloud

      As Microsoft’s licensing changes go into effect, it’s worth doing a cost analysis for future projects. At INAP, we offer a variety of cloud solutions, and our solution engineers are familiar with creating cost-effective and full-feature clouds that best meet your workload and application needs.

      With our dedicated private cloud (DPC), virtual private cloud (VPC) and managed AWS and Azure offerings, we can run a cost analysis of multiple solutions, including hybrid DPC/VPC and AWS/Azure. No matter the solution best for your applications, our goal is to ensure you’re able to meet resiliency, scalability and security requirements without sacrificing speed and power.

      Explore INAP Cloud.

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      Sean Cannata


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      INAP Introduces New Managed AWS Support Plans


      INAP announced today its new Managed AWS support plans, offering greater service capabilities and more flexibility for a broad range of public cloud use cases and budgets. Each plan offers critical features and benefits like consolidated billing, access to certified AWS architects and technicians, and around-the-clock troubleshooting.

      Premium features include advanced deployment services, interconnectivity to AWS from INAP data centers, flexible solution architecture, and comprehensive reporting and cost optimization consultation.

      You can learn all the key details of the support plans—Service First On-Demand and Service First Premier—by reading on below or heading to our Managed AWS service page.

      First, though, some context for why we believe Managed AWS with INAP is a whole lot more than a one-off solution.

      INAP Managed AWS Certified Architects

       

      Multicloud & Hybrid IT Have Arrived

      Managed AWS complements INAP’s existing cloud, colocation and network portfolio, allowing customers to fully realize the potential of hybrid strategies shaping the future of IT.

      As reported in INAP’s 2019 State of IT Infrastructure Management, on-premise-only IT strategies are facing steep decline. A majority (56 percent) of organizations currently maintaining their own data centers will be moving at least some of their infrastructure off-premise within the next three years; 78 percent of those organizations will be selecting hyperscale providers like AWS for specific workloads.

      The challenge for many organizations, however, is that AWS is whole new ball game from an operational and economics perspective.

      While the platform offers compelling solutions for a variety of applications, it is as complex as it is powerful. Even for skilled IT infrastructure professionals, achieving proficiency in the platform and its ever-growing list of tools and products is no easy feat. According to Amazon’s own recommendations, attempting the AWS Solutions Architect Associate certification requires a year of platform experience and studying. Practitioners chasing mastery can add another year for the Professional certificate and several months of prep for specialty certifications like networking and security.

      Do you need these credentials to spin up a cloud environment on AWS? No, but we believe there are two related reasons Amazon emphasizes their certification programs and maintains a vast database of technical documentation.

      First, AWS’s support model is designed for DIY shops. Outside of resolving underlying AWS infrastructure and network issues, Amazon leaves you on your own for environment configuration and optimization.

      Second, running mission-critical workloads in AWS without a deep understanding of the platform’s nuances and complexity can lead to significant problems: sticker shock and blown budgets, workload performance degradation, or worse yet, security vulnerabilities and downtime caused by environment misconfigurations and architectural mistakes.

      For many IT organizations operating hybrid and multicloud strategies, learning a brand-new platform is not the best use of time and limited resources.

      In fact, nearly 8 in 10 IT pros we surveyed believe they could bring more value to their organization if they spent less time on routine tasks like cloud server monitoring and maintenance. Increasingly, IT professionals’ skills are better spent on value-added tasks like new application development and collaborating with business units on new technology initiatives.

      This is all to say that Amazon has made a conscious choice to rely on third-party partners like INAP to help customers succeed.

      Our Managed AWS plans are carefully designed to help IT organizations achieve the promise of hyperscale cloud without confronting operational headaches along the way.

      Simply put: Our experienced team of AWS certified solutions architects and support experts mastered AWS so you don’t have to.

      INAP Managed AWS: Service Plan Overview

      Managed Support Services

      Service First On-Demand

      For a low monthly fee, customers receive core infrastructure monitoring and response, ticketing and hotline access, consolidated billing and basic issue mitigation—e.g., break/fix and simple configurations.

      Service First Premier

      A fully managed, proactive support experience with advanced monitoring, performance optimization best practices, and detailed monthly reporting. You’ll receive hands-on management for all supported AWS services active in your deployment. For infrastructure issues with AWS data centers, our team will work directly with Amazon representatives.


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      AWS Migration Support and Deployment Services

      For customers new to AWS or for customers deploying new environments, INAP offers two tiers of onboarding and deployment services.

      Tier 1: A certified onboarding engineer will implement architecture best-practices tailored to your applications, spin-up your instances and configure services.

      Tier 2: This white-glove onboarding service includes everything from Tier 1, plus:

      • Custom image configuration
      • Network and load balancer configuration
      • Access management and security configuration
      • Set up of up to five enhanced AWS services

      Add-on services include advanced solution architecture for complex deployments, migration support and AWS Direct Connect configuration.

      Deployment services are only available to customers signing up for one of INAP’s Service First support plans.

      Common AWS Use Cases

      INAP’s AWS experts support a vast array of Amazon’s powerful toolkit, specializing in four primary areas: hyperscale compute and storage environments, off-premise backup, serverless, and multicloud.

      Hyperscale: INAP manages and optimizes your core AWS infrastructure, including EC2, VPC, ELB, S3 and RDS.   

      Off-Premise Backup: Using AWS’s wide range of cloud backup storage services to support both application and archival compliance requirements, INAP manages the backup schedule and data life cycle.

      Serverless: Using AWS Lamda, INAP will design and operate the ideal environment for your serverless backend and data processing systems.

      Multicloud & Hybrid: Pair the ideal AWS solution with your on-premise, INAP Colo or INAP Cloud environment to improve performance and reliability.

      In the coming weeks, we’ll break down common reference architectures for each of these specialty areas and share advice for getting started.

      In the meantime, chat with us today and download the following resources:

      INAP Managed AWS Overview [pdf]
      INAP Managed AWS FAQ [pdf]   

      Interested in learning more?

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      Jennifer Curry
      • SVP, Global Cloud Services


      Jennifer Curry is SVP, Global Cloud Services. She is an operational and technology leader with over 17 years of experience in the IT industry, including seven years in the hosting/cloud market. READ MORE



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