EC2 - price analysis for startups

At the moment, I am looking for suitable servers for the infrastructure of my project. I settled on EC2 and decided to analyze which solution would be the most cost-effective for me. This article is essentially a continuation of AWS Insight: Reservations in EC2 - how it works , but provides analysis for a young web startup (24x7).


The server should work 24 hours a day for X months (the number is not determined). Which option (On Demand / Light Utilization Reserved / Medium Utilization Reserved / Heavy Utilization Reserved) should I choose for Micro / Small / Medium / Large servers?


What is the difference between the choices? Only in price. You get exactly the same server, but at different prices depending on the period during which you plan to use it.

On Demand - payment is fully hourly (high), no prepayments.

Heavy Utilization, Medium Utilization, Light Utilization Reserved - Amazon recommends using these types if your server is constantly running (100%), often enough (60%) or occasionally (40%), respectively. To reserve a server, you make a non-refundable prepayment for 1 or 3 years. After that, the hourly fee is significantly reduced. It is important to note that in the case of Medium and Light, only those hours in which the server was used are paid. Heavy - all hours are paid until the end of the reservation, regardless of server use.


For brevity, I will omit the entire analysis, but show its principle. For each of the types (Micro / Small / Medium / Large) I compiled a table of the type presented below for Large. The cell shows the total amount that Amazon will receive from you after a certain month. Green indicates the smallest amount. Red is the largest.

This picture can be simplified by the following table. The cell contains the plan with the smallest amount that you pay after a month.

It's funny that above we do not see any Medium. Is Medium such a loser for this Use Case? Not. If we think for a second, we will understand that the above tables do not answer unambiguously the question posed. The fact is that it was already noted earlier: Heavy Utilization obliges you to pay all, even unused, hours for the entire period of the reservation.

Thus, we are interested not so much in how much we will give to Amazon after a certain month, but in how much we will be obliged to give back, given that the server will not be used after a certain month.

Change the auxiliary table so that it shows the real cost of the server after a specific month.

The last two columns have changed, but have forced quite a few red and green cells to change their positions. We summarize:

Ta-dam! And here is the Medium!


So now the fun part. What did we get?

Since I am interested in Large Instance, I will build on it. Although the trend is the same for all types of servers (offset + - 1 month).

  • The most interesting thing is that Heavy Utilization 1 year did not live up to its descriptions. He hits competitors only in the last two months (11 and 12) of his contract.
  • But Light Utilization 3 years seems very attractive, because it covers as much as 8 months (4 to Heavy, 4 after), which provides not only the opportunity to extend the cost-effective use up to 16 months, but also the ability to use it for its intended purpose (20-40%) over the next 20 months.
  • Light Utilization 1 year is most beneficial for projects from 3 to 6 months
  • It was not surprising that the On Demand solution is the most cost-effective in the first 3 months of operation, which is equivalent to 2200 hours. The price for a month is fixed and equal to $ 190.32
  • For the second half of the table, Medium Utilization 3 years and Heavy Utilization 3 years are fighting . Medium significantly reduces the risk of costs, since it covers 33% (17-28 months) of the table. And, of course, the flexibility of payment per hour makes him a worthy candidate for choice.
  • Heavy Utilization 3 years looks much more worthy of its one year old brother. If you need a server for 28 or more months, then no questions asked. The sum of the question is $ 2,570.30
  • Medium Utilization 1 year - the biggest disappointment for this issue. Won one small nomination for Micro. Unfortunately, not worth considering. Sorry friend!


The remaining supporting tables are on Google.

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