A Penny Saved Is a Penny Gained

By Svitlana Ostnek

Best Practices of AWS Usage with EPAM Cloud

EPAM Cloud allows its users to host their virtual infrastructures in both private and public clouds. AWS is a natural part of many projects work flow. One of the main services used by EPAM project teams is the Elastic Cloud Computing (EC2) service, providing necessary environments for the convenient and successful product development.

However, in addition to necessary capacities, convenient self-service, and the high flexibility of virtual infrastructures, project managers have to consider an equally serious point - costs. Uncontrolled and unreasonable usage of virtual resources on AWS can lead to unexpected enormous expenses, that can be easily avoided by keeping in mind several simple rules.

Use Private Regions Wherever Possible

EPAM Cloud private regions can be activated for any project within shortest time. You can get virtual resources of the necessary configurations, in one of the 10 private virtualization regions, and pay considerably less than for similar resources, hosted in AWS:


We recommend using EPAM Cloud in your deployment process as much as possible, the optimal solution being usage of AWS for production only. In any case, try to host your development resources in EPAM Cloud, and see how your monthly costs are getting reduced:


Be Reasonable - Turn Off the Lights

In AWS (as well as in EPAM Cloud), a running instance is billed at a higher rate than a stopped one. So, unless you actually need a machine to run 24/7, you can stop it for the non-working hours and start it again at the beginning of a working day. A stopped virtual machine is billed for storage only which is about one-third of the cost of the same machine in the running state.

You can save up to 70% of virtual resources cost by stopping them when they are not needed:


To automate VM management and minimize human factor you can set up turning your instances on/off by schedules. EPAM Orchestrator has a very convenient schedule management wizard where you can easily set up the optimal schedules for your virtual machines.

Please also note that the Optimization data on the Monitoring page provides valuable information that allows to review and optimize your AWS resources usage.


Using the provided statistics, project teams can detect the VMs that are overused (are active over 90% of their lifetime), and set up the start/stop strategy for them. It is also recommended to review the low utilization (less than 10%) VMs - it is highly possible, that they can be removed, thus reducing the project final cost.

We recommend checking the VM usage status on a weekly basis to find the machines which need optimization.

Plan Your Budget - Use Quotas

Typically, there is a planned budget for Cloud usage. With EPAM Orchestrator, you do not need to make additional effort to keep an eye on your expenses. here is a powerful mechanism of setting monthly cost (resource utilization) quotas for your project. Once you set the quotas, the system will keep you informed on the quotas depletion process and will not allow you to accidentally exceed them.

Project managers can set up project quotas using the Project Infrastructure page in UPSA:


These quotas specify your project monthly limit for all Cloud-related expenses, and the respective automatic actions:

  • Set up the Stop On limit to specify the chargeback level, at which all the virtual machines belonging to your project, will get stopped.
  • Set up Alert On limit, to specify expense levels, at which you will get email notifications.

Additionally, this page shows the dynamics of your project costs for the past 6 months.

Alternatively, Project Manager/Account Manager can use the Manage Cloud Wizard on the Cloud Management Console to set the project quotas more precisely, and specify the quotas for specific regions or region types, as well as the daily resource creation quotas, that can be used as additional controls of the total monthly cost. Quotas can be set for all regions in which the project is activated, all EPAM or AWS regions, each region separately, each EPAM or AWS region or for a specific region.

Billing information in EPAM Cloud is updated once an hour, so you will always get the timely information on your project utilization, and there will be enough time to react properly.

Please keep in mind, that the default monthly quota for AWS regions is $300. Any quota larger than that should be approved. To approve the quota, use the Manage Cloud Wizard and specify the desired quota amount. Your quota request will be analyzed by the Director of Global IT Operations and, when approved, the new amount will be displayed in your quota settings on the Manage Cloud Wizard.

In case the project monthly expenses exceed the default or approved quota, PM/DM is alerted by email.

Please set quotas for your projects before January 1, 2017, otherwise the default quotas will be set by the Cloud Support Team.

React - Stay Tuned

EPAM Cloud is an enterprise critical solution, armed with reliable security and monitoring tools that keep you informed on everything that is going on in your infrastructure.

One of such tools analyzes your AWS activities and informs you in case unusual resources creation activity is detected.

When a daily resource creation quota in AWS is exceeded on your project within an hour, Project Managers or Delivery Managers get a notification via SMS and an "Unusual activity in AWS detected" email with the details on these activities. The email contains the information on the created resources and the IAM accounts that initiated these activities. There are also the Approve and Reject buttons. By clicking the Approve button, you verify that the enormous resource creation activities are expected. If you click Reject, all the resources listed in your report will be terminated, and the mentioned accounts deleted.


This mechanism is implemented to establish quick reaction on unexpected situations, including hack attacks, and allows to minimize possible harm and project losses.

Please note that in case the Approve or Reject button is not pressed by Project Manager or Delivery Manager within 15 minutes after the notification, EPAM Cloud Support team can take the responsibility to Reject resources creation and to take all the necessary hack-protection measures.

Please verify your contact telephone number in UPSA to make sure that the messages are delivered properly.

Summary

AWS is a popular service used by many projects in their daily activities. Effective resource usage and distribution, along with regular infrastructure reviews, can dramatically cut the AWS-related costs, and save significant amount of money for your projects.

In case you need additional assistance or advice related to this topic, feel free to contact the Cloud Consulting Team.