Virtualization Featured Article

How Enterprises Can Utilize Excess Cloud Capacity to Save Infrastructure Costs

August 08, 2017
By Special Guest
Amiram Shachar, Founder & CEO of Spotinst -

Cloud computing has changed significantly in the last decade, becoming more commonly accepted within organizations. However, adopting the cloud can quickly become costly.  When navigated properly, enterprises can exploit certain cloud offerings like excess cloud capacity, known as “Spot Instances,” to increase computing power and improve efficiency, while reducing costs of the cloud by between 60-90 percent. These options are dispersed across the top three public cloud providers, AWS, Google Cloud and Microsoft Azure.

However, due to the sheer volume of cloud choices, it’s possible for enterprises to miss opportunities to maximize their approaches. Enterprises usually focus on creating policies and visualizing their usage of the cloud rather than accessing a resource that can reduce their cloud costs significantly. It isn’t obvious how to locate or take advantage of Spots, and cloud providers don’t make it easy to turn into a sustainable part of cloud management. Here are three insider tips that organizations are incorporating into their cloud strategy to more effectively navigate the cloud and include cost saving measures.

There is a lot of excess capacity out there, waiting for you

Enterprises that purchase designated virtual servers to run all their applications are almost certain to be overspending for what they need.  When AWS pioneered “Spot Instances,” the market was completely revolutionized, providing more affordable options to supplement their cloud operations. Both Azure and Google Cloud followed suit and developed similar offerings. Spot Instances (as a concept) are excess server capacity that Amazon, Google and Microsoft sell at heavily reduced rates. Their upside is cost reduction, but their downside is that no company has control over when the availability windows open and close because there is no service license agreement (SLA) associated with Spots. It’s important for companies to use technologies that predict when these instances will open and close and stitch them together to eliminate the risk of downtime. By masterfully orchestrating these excess capacity resources, companies can reduce their need for dedicated virtual servers in a substantial amount of their workloads. Spot instances have become so accepted in cloud computing that, on average, every week AWS customers are using more compute capacity on EC2 Spot Instances than customers in 2012 were running across all of Amazon EC2 compute.

High-Availability and Fault-tolerance are the key

Regardless of the size or type of the application running, one VM is never enough to ensure uninterrupted computing even if you run on dedicated (on-demand) servers. Colloquially, the idea is, “don’t put your eggs in one basket.” On a more technical level, redundancy is key, since server downtime can result from any number of external factors, including power outages, weather or scheduled maintenance. Still, it is best to avoid using excess cloud capacity to run mission critical applications, or applications where a failure in operations could bring affect complete business operations.

Use excess capacity as part of your most simple/regular applications

Leveraging excess capacity can feel overwhelming since it works with plenty of different cloud operations - some simple and others more complex. For small and mid-sized companies, this range of options can be a deterrent, but it shouldn’t be. According to Spotinst research, 90 percent of customers (out of 500+) use excess capacity to run simple web applications. Spot Instances are also an excellent fit for containerized applications, and using the right tooling, in certain circumstances for a very basic legacy and enterprise applications.

Using Spot Instances for simple applications garners high cloud cost savings, and, as a result, enterprises can share that savings with their customers to remain competitive. Most small to mid-size companies don’t have the computing budget for dedicated servers that can handle applications unevenly spread and not all time sensitive. Excess capacity, if managed appropriately, can help them keep up with their larger counterparts.

The expansion of Spot offerings, first with Amazon, followed by Google and Microsoft, is a clear indication they should be a vital component of each of every application that is being deployed in the cloud. Spot Instances allow enterprises to lower their costs, become more flexible and improve efficiencies. However, not every enterprise is getting the most out of their migration. Those who take into account these three guidelines when making cloud purchasing decisions will see immediate benefits, and come closer to unleashing the real power of the cloud, realizing the benefits they believed were possible when they moved their infrastructure off premise. 

About the Author

Amiram Shachar is the founder and CEO of multi-cloud workload management innovator Spotinst. Previously he worked with global teams to build and maintain large scale cloud architectures as Director of DevOps at Ybrant Digital. From 2008 through 2012, Shachar operated data-centers for the Israeli Defense Force as a Team Leader for the Center of Computing and Information Systems(Mamram). Amiram holds a Bachelors of Science (BSc) in computer science from The College of Management Academic Studies in Israel.


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