How IT Can (Finally) Use AWS Spot Instances to Reduce Costs – for ANY App

By: Tom NiklJanuary 9, 2017

Spot Instances on Amazon Web Services (AWS) give consumers a way to rent compute in the cloud for significantly cheaper than on-demand pricing. it is very common to see 50-60% savings, and in some cases, you can save up to 90% with spot instances. The reason it’s cheaper is because it’s essentially unused compute power that Amazon has ‘lying around’.

Amazon lets customers bid on these unused resources, which means it can be rented at a heavy discount so that they (Amazon) make some money out of it (instead of none). But the caveat is that you can lose the instance at any time if someone out-bids you or if AWS needs the compute power. This happens quickly, too, with just two minutes of notice from Amazon. AWS Spot Blocks, however, offer bidding on a fixed time for up to six hours, but that’s still a pretty short amount of time.

Until now, only customized applications which were specifically designed to run on spot instances were a candidate for these savings, which is due to two big challenges:

  1. Creation of spot instances is only possible from AMIs (Amazon’s templates), which typically had no state or data within them. Data transfer time would take too long given these instances short life spans.
  2. AWS terminating the instance at any time with very short notice (or after six short hours, for reserved spot instances) required applications to be totally stateless or keep its state in an external location with reliable synchronization technology.

Ultimately, what this means is that only IT departments with big budgets and big staff can reap the rewards of spot instance cost savings. For normal IT teams, they lack the resources to adapt their apps to function properly within a spot instance environment. That’s a lot of cost savings left on the table for everyday IT departments. Why shouldn’t you also easily reap the benefits of spot instances in everyday situations?

That’s why in Velostrata’s newest release, 2.3, we introduce support for AWS Spot Instances. Our unique architecture decouples compute from storage. This means your computing power can take place within a disposable spot instance, while your data is safely stored in Velostrata’s cloud storage sub system and is also synchronized back to your on-premises data center. The power here is that the compute becomes disposable, but the data maintains the state you (and your end users) need. This shift gives you some new ways to take advantage of spot instances:

  1. Dev/Test in the cloud just got a lot more affordable. One of the best use cases for public cloud has been dev/test, where you run your dev/test and sandbox environments in the cloud to avoid the cost of having so much extra computing power on-premises. Using on-demand instances can drive costs up, though, so being able to use spot instances for your dev/test without additional overhead and with reduced costs is an ideal path.
  2. Stateful applications in the cloud just became a reality for everyday IT. Because spot instances could be terminated by Amazon at any time (or expire quickly), you’ve probably not wanted to rely on them for your stateful apps. The time it would take to transfer data back and forth each time just wasn’t worth it. But now you can keep your data on-premises and use Velostrata to stream your app workload into a spot instance within minutes. Velostrata will keep the data synched with your spot instances, and if the spot is taken away you can move the workload back on-premises or run it in a new cloud instance (spot or on-demand) without losing your persistent state. Now your stateful apps can take advantage of the cost savings without requiring custom app rewrites or long upload times when new instances boot up.

The bottom line is that you (and many other IT organizations) haven’t been able to take advantage of the cost savings with spot instances in the past. It was too complex, required too much customization, and it basically wasn’t worth the hurdles for you. Velostrata changes all that. Your on-premises workloads can begin running in a spot instance within a matter of minutes, data can stay on-premises or moved to the cloud, and cost savings with spot instances are finally at everyone’s finger tips.

For more information on Velostrata, check out our 3-minute video or drop us a line at info@velostrata.com.

Tom Nikl
Tom Nikl
Tom has spent twelve years leading product management and product marketing at technology companies large and small who focus on virtualization and cloud technologies. He currently blogs primarily about cloud migration, with an emphasis on overcoming challenges that companies face getting to the cloud and how to solve them. Prior to enterprise, Tom received a B.S. in Computer Science from San Jose State University. Outside of work he is an unabashed fan of Disney Theme Parks and various junk food. Find Tom on Twitter, too: @Tom_Nikl