Building the Perfect Cloud: Three Keys to Optimizing Your AWS Environment

Jeff Martin / November 21, 2016

In the history of sandwich making, no moment stands out more prominently than the day that peanut butter met jelly.

Though history isn’t clear on which was invented first, we can assume that one of these ingredients had to live a very inauspicious existence – toiling away in relative obscurity, until the other was conceived.

For all those years, a peanut butter sandwich – or a jelly sandwich (depending on timelines, as we noted) – most likely met with mild success; providing needed nutrition for its consumer, and perhaps a half a smile in the process – but never quite hitting its stride until the faithful pairing.

In the world of cloud computing, an un-optimized cloud is very much like that lonely, single-ingredient sandwich: It gets the job done – but it could be much, much better.

For our customers, and their customers, optimizing the AWS Cloud environment for performance and spend can make a significant difference in satisfaction, and deliver measurable benefits much like the now-venerable PB&J.

Among the keys to an optimized cloud:

  1. Right Sizing: Your cloud environment should fit your workload like a glove. By right sizing, you will ensure that the AWS instance you are employing is scaled appropriately for the task. If the instance is too large for the task it is built to handle, you end up overpaying for compute costs and lose one of the key financial drivers behind a move to the cloud. However, if the instance is too small for the task at hand, users and customers are likely to have a poor experience, resulting in them not being happy. Right sizing – when led by an AWS Cloud partner – will help you to arrive at the happy medium – and stay there.
  1. Reserved Instances: When acquiring resources in cloud environments, one has the ability to pay for everything a la carte and by the millisecond, or they can purchase these resources in bulk; that is, they can lease a larger amount of resources or for a larger block of time for a discounted price. Thus, significant savings can be reaped if an enterprise allocates more storage up front, or makes a longer-term commitment (generally, a year or more). It’s like buying the large double-jar bundle of peanut butter from your local discount warehouse. The price per ounce is a fraction of that of a single serving of peanut butter from a convenience store. Saving money usually means bigger margins, which always makes managers happy, which in turn can make for happy users. Sometimes, a portion of these savings will be passed along to customers. You know what happens to customers who are told their prices are going down? You guessed it, they get happy!
  1. Environment Maintenance: Set-it-and-forget-it may be a great way to operate a home alarm system, but it’s a really horrendous way to minding your cloud environment. Because the cloud is a pay-as-you-go, a la carte existence, it is extremely important to keep a keen eye on what resources are in use — because the billing clock is running. For example, when a company gets into the habit of leaving old backup snapshots in its cloud environment, or leaves volumes that are unattached to an instance and not going to be used again, money is unnecessarily wasted on junk. This type of situation almost always leads to unhappy users, management and customers. Performing regular maintenance in a cloud environment is imperative to avoiding wasteful spending.

Operating in the cloud can be a very satisfying experience – much like I just had by eating this PB&J while writing this blog. You can customize your resources to suit your precise needs, all the while optimizing your spend. But, if you’re not keeping your eye on your environment by using a cloud insight platform, or, better yet, working with an AWS partner like Blue Sentry Cloud, you may be engaging in some needlessly wasteful practices that can leave your experience tasting a little incomplete.