5 Ways to Save on Database Costs in AWS

Gilad David Maayan
Published 03/28/2024
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5 Ways to Save on Database Costs in AWSWhat Are the Main Cost Factors of AWS Database Services?

Amazon Web Services (AWS) offers a range of database services that suit different needs, such as Amazon RDS (Relational Database Service), Amazon DynamoDB (a NoSQL database service), and Amazon Redshift (a data warehousing service). These services provide resizable capacity and automate various time-consuming administration tasks, including hardware provisioning, backups, database setup, and patching.

When using AWS database services, several factors contribute to the overall cost. Understanding these factors is crucial for efficient cost management and optimization. Here are the main cost drivers:

  1. Instance types and sizes: AWS offers a range of database instance types and sizes, each with different capabilities and costs. The choice of instance type impacts the cost significantly. Selecting the right size and type based on your application’s requirements can prevent overpaying for unused capacity.
  2. Storage costs: AWS database services charge a fee per GB/month of data stored. Storage costs vary depending on the type of database service used and the amount of data stored. Options like faster SSD-backed storage might increase costs.
  3. Data transfer fees: Data transferred in and out of AWS databases incurs charges. Transferring data between AWS services in different regions or sending data from AWS to the internet can significantly affect costs, especially for data-intensive applications.
  4. Provisioned throughput: For databases that charge based on throughput, such as Amazon DynamoDB, the cost is directly tied to the amount of read and write capacity you provision. Higher throughput settings result in higher costs.
  5. Additional features and services: Features like automated backups, monitoring with Amazon CloudWatch, and encryption add to the cost.
  6. License costs: Some AWS database services are based on commercial database software, such as Oracle or Microsoft SQL Server. In some cases AWS allows you to bring your own licenses, while in others, the service price includes the cost of the software license.

Importance of Cost Optimization for AWS Databases

Let’s discuss why it’s so important to optimize costs when running databases in AWS:

Financial Efficiency

Optimizing costs in AWS databases directly contributes to the financial efficiency of an organization. By carefully managing database resources, companies can significantly reduce their operational expenses without compromising on performance or availability. This involves selecting the appropriate instance types, leveraging cost-saving plans such as reserved instances or savings plans, and minimizing unnecessary storage or throughput expenses.

Resource Utilization

Proper cost optimization ensures optimal resource utilization, preventing the wastage of valuable resources. In the AWS environment, paying for unused or underutilized resources is a common issue that can inflate costs unnecessarily. By implementing auto-scaling, choosing serverless options for fluctuating workloads, and using database caching to enhance performance, organizations can ensure that they are using their resources efficiently.

Operational Flexibility

Cost optimization in AWS databases improves flexibility by allowing organizations to adapt more quickly to changing business needs. Through the strategic use of reserved instances, savings plans, and auto-scaling features, businesses can scale their operations up or down without incurring prohibitive costs. This flexibility is vital in today’s business environment, where the ability to rapidly respond to opportunities or challenges can be a key differentiator.

In addition, operational flexibility supported by cost-effective database strategies allows companies to experiment with new ideas and technologies without the fear of substantial financial risk.

5 Ways to Save on Database Costs in AWS

1. Utilize Reserved Instances and Savings Plans

Reserved instances (RIs) and savings plans are two cost saving models offered by Amazon, which provide discounts in exchange for long-term commitments to use cloud resources.

Reserved Instances

RIs allow you to commit to the usage of specific instance types over a one or three-year term, in return for a significant discount off the on-demand price. The longer the term and the more you pay upfront, the higher the discount. This can lead to cost savings of up to 75% compared to on-demand pricing.

RIs restrict your flexibility, because you will have to continue running certain compute instances for either one three 3 years. However, they do offer some flexibility in terms of instance attributes, allowing you to modify the Availability Zone, instance size, and networking type.

Savings Plans

Savings plans provide a discount off AWS compute usage in exchange for a one or three-year commitment. There are three types of savings plans, applying to AWS SageMaker, Amazon EC2, and all Amazon compute services. These plans offer cost savings of up to 72%.

The advantage of savings plans is that they apply to any instance family, size, region, OS or tenancy, providing more flexibility and easier management than RIs.

Both these options require careful planning and consideration of your needs, but they can lead to substantial cost savings in the long run.

2. Leverage Auto Scaling and Serverless Options

Another effective way to save on database costs in AWS is by leveraging auto scaling and serverless options. These features can help optimize costs by adjusting resources based on demand, ensuring you only pay for what you use.

Auto Scaling

Auto scaling allows your AWS database resources to dynamically adjust according to the workload. This means that your database capacity can automatically scale up when demand spikes, ensuring high performance and availability, and scale down during quieter periods to minimize costs.

By monitoring your application’s performance and setting appropriate thresholds for scaling actions, you can maintain optimal performance while minimizing costs. This approach not only saves money but also reduces the need for manual intervention in managing resource allocation.

Serverless Options

Serverless computing models, like Amazon Aurora Serverless, offer a way to run database workloads without provisioning or managing servers. In this model, you pay only for the compute time you consume—there is no charge when your database is idle. This can lead to significant cost savings for applications with unpredictable workloads, intermittent traffic, or for development and testing environments where usage can be sporadic.

Serverless databases automatically scale capacity up or down based on the workload, ensuring that you have the right amount of resources when needed. This model eliminates the need for upfront capacity planning and offers a simpler, more cost-effective way to manage database resources.

3. Implement Database Caching with Amazon ElastiCache

Another way to save on database costs in AWS is by implementing database caching with Amazon ElastiCache.

ElastiCache is a fully managed in-memory data store and cache service that provides high-speed access to data, reducing the load on your databases and saving costs. It supports both Redis and Memcached, giving you the flexibility to choose the most suitable option based on your needs.

By caching frequently accessed data, you can significantly reduce the number of read and write operations to your databases, improving performance and reducing costs. ElastiCache can be instrumental in handling high traffic loads, especially for read-heavy applications.

4. Create Zero-Capacity Clones with Amazon FSx for NetApp ONTAP

Creating zero-capacity clones with Amazon FSx for NetApp ONTAP is another effective way to save on database costs in AWS.

FSx for NetApp ONTAP is a fully managed service that provides cost-effective, high-performance file storage for applications. With its data cloning feature, you can create zero-capacity clones of your databases, which are fully functional copies that share blocks with the source database, but do not consume any additional storage.

This feature allows you to perform testing, development, and analytics on your databases without incurring any additional storage costs. Zero-capacity cloning is particularly useful in DevOps environments, where testing and development can consume significant amounts of storage.

5. Consolidate Databases to Reduce Costs

The final strategy we’ll cover is database consolidation. This involves combining multiple databases into a single larger database, which can lead to significant cost savings.

By consolidating databases, you can reduce the number of database instances you need to maintain, leading to lower management and operational costs. Consolidation can also improve performance by reducing network latency and allowing for more efficient use of resources.

However, database consolidation should be approached carefully, as it can lead to increased complexity and potential performance issues if not properly planned and executed.

In conclusion, managing database costs in AWS can be a complex task, but with the right strategies and tools, it is possible to achieve significant cost savings. By utilizing reserved instances and savings plans, leveraging auto scaling and serverless options, implementing database caching, creating zero-capacity clones, and consolidating databases, you can optimize your AWS spend and ensure that you are getting maximal value for money.

About the Author

Gilad David Maayan is a technology writer who has worked with over 150 technology companies including SAP, Imperva, Samsung NEXT, NetApp and Check Point, producing technical and thought leadership content that elucidates technical solutions for developers and IT leadership. Today he heads Agile SEO, the leading marketing agency in the technology industry.


Disclaimer: The author is completely responsible for the content of this article. The opinions expressed are their own and do not represent IEEE’s position nor that of the Computer Society nor its Leadership.