How to Make the Most of Your Unused EC2 Reservations

Apr 11 2013 | by Zev Schonberg

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AWS customers looking to reduce the cost of EC2 consumption know that reserved instances are generally much more cost-effective than on-demand. The payback can be huge with most Amazon cloud customers saving between 30%-46% on their AWS bill. [Read more about calculating the optimal EC2 deployment] 1 EC2-Reservation-ROI-PointNot only that, but in many cases, the break-even point or ROI of reservations vs. on-demand is achieved after just 3 or 4 months into the RI term (even for 3 year reservations). This means that even if the reservation sits idle after that, it still was a financially sound choice when compared with 3 or 4 months of on-demand. But things can get even groovier….

Take a sad cloud and make it better

While the above scenario is already pretty great, we decided that companies using AWS web services deserve to maximize their EC2 investment to the hilt, and with ease. So we recently introduced our Unused Reservation Detector. This tool enables you to identify unused and available EC2 reservations, along with matching on-demand instances that you have running in other availability zones. Of course, this allows you to extract even more value from your reservations.
2 RI-Navigator-for-Amazon-AWSTo illustrate this, let’s walk through (and click-through all the screenshots) of a real customer scenario.

Recycle your reservations – it’s good for the cloud environment

With the help of the Unused Reservation Detector you’ve identified 9 unused reservations. Seven of them are c1.xlarge reservations (out of a group of 22 reservations) located in us-east-1c.
3 Unused-Reservation-Detector-DetailsNow you might have a good reason to keep those 7 unused reservations idle, and it all depends on your unique circumstances. However, if there is no good reason to keep them idle, you can now easily identify potential relocation candidates and get more bang for your EC2 buck.
4 Unused-Reservation-Detector-RelocationsFrom the list of these 22 matching on-demand instances, you can select 7 instances to be moved from us-east-1d (or us-east-1e) to the 7 unused reservations’ AZ, us-east-1c. In doing this, not only can you fully maximize the financial investment into those 7 reservations, but you can also swap the higher on-demand rates for the less expensive reservation usage rates, for the 7 relocated instances. (By the way, it was coincidental that there were 7 unused reservations and 7 matching on-demand instances.)

Selling EC2 reservations on Amazon’s cloud market

Sometimes there are no matches for relocation. In those situations you can always try selling your unused reservations on the AWS marketplace. The Unused Reservation Detector provides those recommendations when no matching on-demand instances exist.
5 Unused-Reservation-Detector-Selling-RecsThe only issue with this, is that you can only set the one-time fee pricing (which is paid to you). However, the usage rate is locked to whatever it was when you originally purchased the RI. As AWS frequently lowers their rates, practically speaking, your reservation will likely not be competitive in comparison to buying a full-term RI, directly from AWS.

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