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New tool uses S3 to reap AWS cost savings

A new company has emerged from stealth with an alternative to AWS Auto Scaling Groups for SMBs in search of EC2 cost saving tricks.

A new company came out of the woodwork in Amazon Web Services' vast ecosystem this week, with software that "parks" AWS EC2 resources to cut cloud computing costs.

ParkMyCloud Inc., based in Sterling, Va., came out of stealth with software that uses a REST API to save images of Amazon Web Services (AWS) Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) virtual machines to Amazon Simple Storage Service (S3) -- where they do not incur hourly computing charges. It launches instances from those images into EC2 again when they are needed. The company also claims performance overhead is negligible for spinning the machine back up, because the software operates out of band and instances are merely 'stopped,' not stored as snapshots. On restart, the instances are turned back on, assigned an IP address and are ready to run.

The tool also estimates the cost savings users will gain ahead of monthly billing, which, along with the price, swayed one beta customer to invest in the tool rather than do his own scripting to achieve the same result.

We had an ROI within the first two weeks of using the software.
Michael BiddickCEO of Fusion PPT

"Month after month, we kept getting the bill, and the more customers used [our services], the higher the bills got," said Michael Biddick, CEO of Fusion PPT, a technology services company in Washington, D.C. that specializes in building test-and-development environments in the cloud. "But I honestly didn't know whether we would see any savings going into it, or what those savings would be."

In retrospect, the fact that the company runs test-and-development workloads, which don't need machines running 24/7, meant it was particularly suited to ParkMyCloud's method of generating cost savings. The first month Fusion PPT used ParkMyCloud's software, the AWS cost savings were 55%, thousands of dollars in savings, according to Biddick.

"We had an ROI within the first two weeks of using the software," Biddick said.

Scripts could accomplish what ParkMyCloud does, but for a small company, the time a developer would take to write the scripts would be more expensive than using the software. ParkMyCloud starts at $29 a month for up to 29 instances, and also has pricing tiers at $99 for 29 to 99 EC2 instances, and tops out at $499 a month for up to 500 instances.

Scripts also won't forecast cost savings. "It would just be a surprise at the end of the month what we saved," Biddick said.

From a management perspective, scripts also don't have visibility from a reporting and governance standpoint, and they don't auto-discover new resources added in different regions, Biddick added.

The ParkMyCloud tool does have limitations; CEO Jay Chapel said the focus for the company is startups and small and medium businesses. Customers with more than 500 instances are asked to call ParkMyCloud for pricing and service.

The company is also very young, a spinoff from the larger Ostrato, which makes a cloud management software platform. ParkMyCloud received its seed funding July 1.

Young as the company may be, it has several deal sweeteners on the table. ParkMyCloud will add role-based access control, tagging, naming conventions, a recommendation engine that shows which servers to park, utilization and last login reporting.

ParkMyCloud also goes up against Amazon's own Auto Scaling Groups, which are free to all AWS users; users can set a minimum parameter of 'zero' in Auto Scaling Groups and achieve much the same effect as ParkMyCloud offers.

ParkMyCloud's Chapel said the company sees Auto Scaling Groups as mainly offering high availability behind load balancers and massive scale-up for retailers on holidays, rather than being a straightforward cost-cutting tool.

"The primary focus of the two is quite different," Chapel said. With Auto Scaling Groups, he argues, "the focus is performance for a given cost."

Beth Pariseau is senior news writer for SearchAWS. Write to her at [email protected] or follow @PariseauTT on Twitter.  

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