4 simple strategies for managing your AWS costs with reserved instances

AWS reserved instances are an economical way to reduce your AWS costs. Here at Datawire, we’ve adopted some basic strategies for optimizing our costs. These strategies are designed for companies that don’t want to invest a lot of tools and technologies in optimizing cost, yet want to make sure things don’t get out of control.

Here’s our list of strategies:

  1. Configure your reserved instances to be Region-Scoped. A relatively new feature in AWS, we use Region scoping for our RIs. This means that we don’t need to insure that running instances are deployed into AZs that map to RIs, improving utilization.
  2. Try to buy in a popular region. We primarily buy in US East (N. Virginia). This means that there’s a robust demand for reselling unused capacity. (More on that in a moment.)
  3. Buy using the No Upfront Payment option. Instead of pre-paying for an instance, we pay-as-you-go. This means that if we sell an instance, the buyer assumes the remainder of the contract, and you’re not forced to sell at a loss.
  4. Sell your excess reserved instances on the market place. We periodically assess our needs, and we sell excess RI capacity on the marketplace. There are a few nuances to this:
    1. Region-scoped instances can’t be sold in the Marketplace. So you need to convert your RIs back to a specific AZ, and then sell it.
    2. The UI for showing your listings is not intuitive at all. To find it, go to your RI view. Then, click on a specific instance. There’s a tab at the bottom that is labeled “My Listings”. If a given instance is for sale, you’ll see information here about the sale.
    3. The AWS Cost Forecast operates based on historic usage, and does not take into account reduced RI capacity. So the forecast will be off for a few months after you sell instances.

These simple strategies have let us quickly and easily manage our reserved instance costs with a minimal investment in time and effort. We hope this is helpful for you!