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How to Proactively Control Cloud Costs

[Chapter 3] How to Reduce Your AWS Bill

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Rather than retroactively fixing cost tech debt, proactively controlling cost can be a better long-term solution. Here are some of the top ways to get started.

Embrace Cost-Conscious Engineering

Embrace a cost-conscious engineering culture. Engineers make buying decisions daily – whether by the architectures they design or instances they start. The only way to strategically control cost is to empower engineering teams and hold them accountable for the cost, just like they’re accountable for performance and security. The AWS Well Architected Framework has a cost optimization section you can reference.

Creating a cost-conscious engineering culture takes a combination of people, process, and technology.

People Process and Technology for Cloud Cost

Manage Your Cloud Investment

Companies should be proactive about managing their cloud investment, not just their cloud costs. Change is a constant with AWS, and organizations struggle to understand what cost changes are meaningful to focus on. Increasing costs aren’t necessarily a problem, if the revenue for a product or feature is going up faster. It all starts with understanding how much your features and products cost.

Aligning costs to features and products has traditionally been very difficult for a number of reasons, including inadequate tagging and organizations having numerous accounts. There’s also the reality of shared infrastructure and containerization, which make apportioning cost to specific features or products non-trivial. These challenges need to be addressed before the company can understand the costs of features or products.

Prepare for the Cost Tech Debt Waste Top 3

#1: IDLE EC2 INSTANCES AWS EC2 provides secure and reliable compute capacity in the cloud.

#2: IDLE RDS INSTANCES AWS RDS is a relational database service. Like EC2, it is one of the most popular AWS services.

#3: UNATTACHED EBS VOLUMES AWS Elastic Block Store is a service commonly used with EC2 for both throughput and transactionintensive workloads. With the default configuration data, EBS does not get deleted when an instance is terminated.


  • Use the EC2 compute optimizer to right-size
  • Use CloudWatch to identify:
    • Idle EC2: Low CPU, Memory and Network
    • Idle RDS: No Connections and Low CPU
    • Use EC2  -> Elastic Block Store (EBS) interface to view a volume’s state.
  • Before deleting anything, make sure that data is no longer needed. If so, take snapshots of data (lower cost storage option)
  • Use EBS “terminate upon deletion” config option

Adopt the Right Process and Tooling

At a tactical level, it really comes down to having the necessary process and tooling in place to be able to hold teams accountable for the cost of their features and products. Here’s some examples of questions to ask various stakeholders:

FOR ENGINEERS: “What is causing the cost of my feature to grow or shrink?” FOR

DEVOPS: “As our operations and customers grow are our spends scaling linearly? Are there operational changes that are causing costs to spike?”

FOR PRODUCT TEAMS: Inquire about the costs of their products to support margin analysis. “Are the costs of our features / products trending acceptably per the business projections?” Having a cost-conscious engineering culture and understanding the costs of your features and products serves as the foundation of what will let you start actively managing your cloud investment. This starts with providing the right context to the right teams. For product and engineering teams, this means showing them the costs for the features they are responsible for, so they can take ownership of their costs.

It also means they need the right context to understand the underlying sources of each cost. This can be accomplished in a number of ways, but solutions like CloudZero are purpose-built to help organizations adopt a proactive approach to cloud cost optimization by giving teams data on the cost of their features and products.

CloudZero Brings Cloud Cost Intelligence to Your Team

CloudZero delivers relevant cloud cost data about products and features to the engineers responsible for building them. Using machine learning, CloudZero automates manual cost management work, detects cost anomalies, and boosts AWS tagging coverage. With CloudZero, innovative companies can proactively reduce cloud costs, control their margins, and eliminate billing surprises.Cloud spending starts with engineering. Controlling it starts with CloudZero.

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