Optimizing AWS Costs: Where Companies Often Overpay and How to Save

Discover fresh, practical tips for AWS cost optimization with a dash of humor.

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If you've read one AWS cost optimization blog, you've read them all, right? Well, hold onto your hats because this one promises to break the mold. Not only am I going to sprinkle in a bit of humor to keep things light, but I'll also offer up some super practical advice that goes beyond the usual "switch off unused instances".

1. The Case of the Bulky EC2 Instances

Challenge: Oversized EC2 instances are like those oversized clothes you bought during a sale but never wore. They take up space (and money!) even when they’re just sitting there, unused.

Solution: Keep a sharp eye on your instance sizes and usage. Use auto-scaling to fit your actual needs—no more, no less—and power down when done. Use reserved instances and savings plans for a budget-friendly lifestyle. Additionally, ensure your instances are properly tagged with ownership, review them weekly, set expiration date tags, and automate the deletion of those past their prime to keep your setup lean and mean

Tailwarden Tip: You can use Tailwarden to create a widget to track the most expensive EC2 instances, from there you can review their CPU usage over the last 12 months and delete those with usage below 5%.

2. RDS Clusters

Challenge: RDS costs can escalate with high-performance instance requirements and multi-AZ deployments, especially if there are underutilized instances.

Solution: Regularly check your database usage and consider consolidating those lonely databases into a more cost-effective setup. Turn off development instances when not in use and use Spot instances for RDS read replicas or other non-critical workloads to further reduce costs.

Tailwarden Tip: Keep a close eye on your RDS backups and snapshots. Our widgets let you see which ones are racking up your bill so you can remove the costly excess.

3. S3 Buckets: Where Data Goes to Forget

Challenge: S3 is cheap for storage but can cost you an arm and a leg when you start retrieving data, especially from the depths of the S3 Glacier.

Solution: Use S3 Intelligent Tiering to move old data to cheaper tiers automatically. When pulling data, make sure you’re only fetching what you need—think of it as choosing the best snacks at a party. Also, retrieve only the specific data you require from an object, which can reduce both retrieval times and costs significantly.

Tailwarden Tip: Use Tailwarden to track the cost of individual S3 buckets and enable Intelligent Tiering on the most expensive ones.

4. Ghost Town EBS Volumes

Challenge: Paying for unattached or underutilized EBS volumes is a common issue, as volumes often remain after EC2 instances are terminated.

Solution: Perform regular audits of your storage use. Say goodbye to any unattached volumes and old snapshots that serve no purpose. Also, reconsider whether all your data requires high-performance io2 volumes; analyze your application's I/O patterns to see if you can use more cost-efficient storage types like gp2 or st1 for less critical data.

Tailwarden Tip: Our asset management feature lets you track all EBS volumes across your accounts, alerting you when costs spike or when volumes go unused:

5. The Data Transfer Black Hole

Challenge: Data transfer fees can sneak up like a ninja, especially when you're shuffling data across regions or between services.

Solution: Keep your data and computing resources close to reduce transfer costs. Consider using AWS CloudFront to cache your content and take advantage of the free tier for basic needs, which can significantly cut down on data transfer charges.

Tailwarden Tip: Tailwarden can provide a breakdown of your data transfer costs by resource, region, and service, highlighting areas for potential savings.

6. CloudWatch Log Groups with Infinite Logs

Challenge: While basic monitoring is free, detailed monitoring and extensive logging can accumulate faster than unread emails.

Solution: Optimize your logging settings by adjusting the retention policies and selectively enabling detailed monitoring only where necessary. Use log levels to filter out less important messages, determine appropriate log retention durations based on your needs, and compress log data before sending to save space and money.

Tailwarden Tip: Regularly review and remove any unnecessary log groups with Tailwarden to significantly reduce the volume of data ingested by CloudWatch.

Remember, optimizing AWS costs isn't just a solo mission; it's a team sport. Empower your engineers by cultivating a culture of cost ownership. We’ve made it easy with Tailwarden’s pre-configured dashboards, inspired by AWS's Cost Intelligence Dashboard but simplified so anyone can take the reins—no finance degree required.

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