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AWS Cost Optimization: Key Things to Know

By Dustin Milberg, Field CTO Cloud Services at InterVision

What are the benefits of a fully optimized AWS environment? The same benefits of the cloud itself: scalability, agility, flexibility, and security, to name a few.

To recognize these benefits, organizations must first plan and architect for these results. Without the proper up-front preparation, organizations will surely see high cost and technical debt resulting from sub-optimized environments.

For many organizations, complicated pricing and billing, incomplete governance control, incorrectly sized deployments, and inaccurate visibility and forecasting have made it difficult to embrace AWS for its full value or potential.

What is AWS Cost Optimization?

My organization, InterVision, has defined AWS cost optimization as the following in a blog post: "the process of examining and correcting existing conditions within the AWS environment to better fit within a predetermined budget." This optimization process, especially when using the services of a third party, should also include a specific focus on leveraging many of the unique AWS native features which are provided by AWS enabling consumers to reduce costs wherever possible.

However, far too few organizations know where and how best to harness AWS native tools and resources, which means that while these organizations could be leveraging further cost predictability and control, they are seeing cost increases and have difficulty in budgeting for growth.

Strategies for AWS Cost Optimization

When optimizing your AWS environment for cost savings, there are three key areas of crucial attention: 1) architecture, 2) FinOps, and 3) governance controls. Let me explain the concepts more in detail.

Cloud Architecture

For optimizing your organization's architecture in the AWS cloud, it is imperative to view this work as building the essential foundation for all other cost savings in the cloud. This requires a thorough understanding of the platform at all levels: infrastructure, application, data, security, policy, and pipeline. Coupled with a detailed analysis of usage patterns and failure modes, organizations are best positioned to deliver an exceptional customer experience which is secure and scalable with a predictable financial outlay. This understanding allows organizations to more fully leverage cost optimization: strengthening infrastructure, reducing unnecessary data transfer, right sizing compute, minimizing unused storage, and identifying scheduling opportunities to turn on or off resources. Read more about this concept and approach in this blog.


On top of AWS cloud architecture, cloud consumers teams must focus attention on FinOps, which TechTarget describes as "a framework for managing operating expenditures (Opex) in the cloud. An important goal of FinOps is to help cross-functional teams within the same organization maintain financial accountability for cloud services."

The good news is that AWS helps to facilitate FinOps and provisioning resources in a variety of ways, enabling their customers to recognize cost savings wherever possible. These features include Spot Instances, Reserved Instances, and Savings Plans. Read more about these in this blog post. Cost savings in AWS from a FinOps perspective depends upon achieving a symbiotic mixture of AWS Savings Plans, Reserved Instances, and Spot instances to holistically optimize spending across the AWS ecosystem.

Governance Control

Perhaps the most overlooked critical component to recognizing value in cloud consumption is Governance. This concept refers to the tools teams leverage to track daily operations and manage change across the organization. In AWS cloud, governance takes much of the same role without deployment delays. When created and applied correctly, it can actually accelerate velocity. If automated through an optimized CI/CD pipeline and toolchain, even further improved velocity, security, and cost optimization become reality.

Read more about implementing governance control in this blog post.

Wrapping It All Together into True Cost Optimization

When companies focus their optimization efforts around the three areas of 1) improving their AWS architecture, 2) leveraging all available FinOps capabilities, and 3) increasing governance controls, the data will show that they recognize cost savings, improved security, and an overall better user experience in the AWS cloud.

Yet, one area that is just as crucial to successful optimization in AWS does not involve AWS at all: establishing a cost savings culture within your organization. Navigating change is a challenge for any business, but when it comes to the AWS cloud, an entirely different approach to consumption must be applied, which is very different from what the business might be accustomed to in an on-premises environment. Demystifying the cloud, reducing fear of the unknown, and emphasizing the need for evolution to compete and survive as a business are critical keys to success. This is where advice from a third-party expert or your peers in the industry who have successfully made this transition can be particularly helpful.


About the Author

Dustin Milberg 

Dustin Milberg is a seasoned enterprise technology executive and current Field CTO Cloud Services at InterVision, a leading IT strategic service provider and Premier Consulting Partner in the Amazon Web Services (AWS) Partner Network (APN). In this role, Dustin focuses on helping customers adopt a holistic approach to developing and delivering sustainable platforms and solutions, while enabling technology organizations to optimize the entire operation: people, process, infrastructure, operations, development, quality, and security.

Published Wednesday, April 28, 2021 7:32 AM by David Marshall
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