How to significantly reduce AWS costs with EC2 instance scheduling


Amazon’s Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) provides its users with a flexible, highly customizable computing solution without the need to invest in costly on-site servers. And the product’s ability to quickly scale computing capacity up or down means that, if properly utilized, users only pay for what they actually need.  Not only can Amazon EC2 users easily start and stop instances on demand through the AWS console, but you can also use EC2 server scheduling to set the stop and start times of specific instances in advance, to reduce AWS costs. By some estimates, utilizing EC2 scheduling functionality to stop non-essential instances outside of office hours can reduce AWS costs by as much as 70 percent! Imagine how impressed your boss will be!

However, depending on your specific circumstances, being able to efficiently and effectively managing your EC2 server scheduling can be tricky. While AWS does provide its own Instance Scheduler, it requires a certain level of coding know-how to operate, which means it might not be a good fit for all users. In this article, we will explain a bit more about what is needed to properly implement an EC2 server scheduling strategy, as well as the benefits of using purpose-built third-party solutions such as the Advanced server scheduling solution offered by CloudRanger to help save you time and reduce AWS costs by automating the process, allowing you to focus on more important issues affecting your business.

Amazon Instance Scheduler

As mentioned above, AWS does provide its own tool for scheduling your company’s EC2 instances. Known as AWS Instance Scheduler, the program allows users to create automatic start and stop schedules by applying a custom resource tag to relevant instances. Predetermined start and stop parameters are stored in Amazon Dynamo DB, and a recurring AWS Lambda function automatically starts and stops the instances you’ve tagged. You can also use a custom Amazon CloudWatch metric to keep track of your capacity and usage and to monitor costs.

As AWS points out, the AWS Instance Scheduler  “is intended for IT infrastructure and DevOps professionals who have practical experience with automation and architecting on the AWS cloud.” In other words, using this tool requires a certain level of technical/scripting know-how which makes it an unrealistic option for many would-be users.

The merits of scheduling EC2 instances are fairly obvious. By stopping non-essential EC2 instances from running during at evenings, weekends, holidays, etc. your business can substantially reduce AWS costs. But what’s the best method to go about scheduling these EC2 instances for your business?

Is scripting the way to go?

If you have the time or the inclination, you can use CloudWatch Events to trigger an AWS Lambda function to start and stop your EC2 instances at scheduled intervals. CloudWatch Events allows you to create an event that is triggered at a specified time or interval in response to events that take place in your account. For example, you can create an event using CloudWatch Events for a specific time of day, or you can create an alarm when CPU utilization for an instance reaches a specific threshold. You can also configure a Lambda function to start and stop instances when triggered by these events. However, this solution involves some custom scripting and technical experience.

These scripts need to be maintained as your environment changes, costing your company money. For example, an IT admin on an hourly rate of about $40/hour might take 6-8 hours to write the scripts initially, then about the same amount of time each month to maintain them and push them through your DevOps process, as your environment changes. That’s nearly $400 a month.

If you don’t keep up with revising your scripts, then a number of EC2 instances that are not required 24/7, can slip through the net, costing your company money, in some cases hundreds or thousands of dollars. Also, do you want your developers or admins spending all of their time working on maintenance of scripts for EC2 instances? No, you want them supporting your company’s main business, and adding value to the organization.

The alternatives to scripting to reduce AWS costs

Luckily, third-party services are available to help make things easier and free organizations from reliance on home-grown scripts.

For example, CloudRanger’s own Advanced EC2 scheduler offers all of the same features found in the AWS version, but with a much simpler, more intuitive user interface, and without the need for any scripting. CloudRanger As a result, you don’t need a high level of technical know-how to manage and schedule your EC2 instances. And even if you are an IT professional who is capable of scripting, CloundRangers’ Advanced EC2 scheduler will still save you time by automating the process, allowing you to focus on more important issues affecting your business.

None of that is required with our simple, easy-to-use platform. You don’t need a developer background to use CloudRanger.

If you’re looking for an alternative to writing your own in-house scripts (and maintaining them!) here are a list of benefits

  • Plan your EC2 and RDS schedules in a simple, visual dashboard for optimal efficiency and cost savings.
  • Schedule Amazon EC2 and RDS resources to automatically stop/start resources when they are not in use.
  • Flexibility to automatically manage multiple schedules across EC2 and RDS servers as necessary.
  • Apply custom resource tags to Amazon EC2 and RDS instances to receive scheduled actions.
  • No scripting required. Our automated actions are more reliable than manual processes.
  • Significantly reduce your operational costs for development and production environments.

CloudRanger saves you a ton of time and you always know that the tasks are running how you want them.

Save time and resources to focus on higher value-add activities

The cost of a third-party service like CloudRanger will easily be offset by the money your company will save from implementing a scalable server scheduling plan. It is also more flexible and cost-effective than having your in-house developers or admins writing scheduling scripts.

Aside from server scheduling benefits, CloudRanger also includes the added bonus where you have the ability to schedule automated backups of your AWS cloud servers. With an easy to use interface, you can simply and efficiently schedule backups and custom retention periods for EBS volumes, EC2 and RDS instances with snapshots and AMIs. And best of all, these cost-saving, time-saving features can be yours for as little as $79 per month!

About CloudRanger

With an easy to use interface, CloudRanger makes managing your routine AWS server scheduling tasks a breeze. Our product helps to save your team time, reduce AWS costs and makes the day-to-day AWS management easier and more automated.

Whether you are a small business, a medium business, or an enterprise user of Amazon Web Services, CloudRanger has features built for you. It’s easy to set up and get started, you can even manage multiple AWS accounts from one simple dashboard.

You can try CloudRanger for free, so why not check out our range of features and benefits for yourself?




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