Moving To Dedicated Instances In AWS

April 17 2014 | by Eran Abramson AWS, aws cloud optimization, aws cost optimization

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There seems to be a growing trend of AWS clients moving to dedicated instances. What used to be a minor and somewhat ‘luxurious’ direction has been growing, and while it is definitely not a significant part of the entire AWS deployment, there must be reasons.

What are dedicated instances?
AWS dedicated instances are instances that do not share hardware with other AWS accounts. When you launch a dedicated instance, Amazon guarantees that only your instances will run on this hardware.

Why choose dedicated servers?
Servers Room
It may seem that the selection of dedicated servers may be a cause of a materialistic interest of having your own hardware you do not want to share, but there are real reasons behind such a move:

Compliance: for one reason or another, an organization may have certain restrictions and
requirements of where data is placed and its accessibility. Having dedicated instances with your own hardware provides you peace of mind that no other organization, company or deployment will be running alongside

Performance: while mostly theoretical, having dedicated hardware for your use only can avoid other deployment which may utilize or use your instances in one way or another, thus reducing performance. Some companies wish to avoid such noisy neighbors using their pool.

If recalled, Netflix wished to avoid such neighbors, so they upgraded to the largest available instances, which ended up being dedicated since no one else could use them.

Why isn’t everyone using dedicated instances?
Up until July 2013, dedicated instances were prohibitively expensive, so many either avoid it or simply didn’t see the benefits over cost. In fact, before then, we didn’t see one single dedicated instance from our entire customer deployment. [Note: we are currently monitoring over 8% of AWS deployment overall].

What happened on July 2013? Amazon announced a major price drop for dedicated instances (in some cases as much as 80%), so companies that see the needs mentioned above began to adapt and make the move. When compared today, dedicated instances are roughly 10% more expensive than regular instances and an additional runtime surcharge of $2/hour/region is added, but for large companies that additional cost is outweighed by the advantages and peace of mind of having your own dedicated hardware.

When looking at our portfolio today, approximately 0.5% of all instances are running as dedicated. Below is a region distribution of our customers (one ‘dedicated-only’ client removed as to not skew the breakdown):

region distribution of Cloudyn customers

So are dedicated instances the way to go? With pricing coming close regular instances, it is becoming a viable option for big companies looking to separate themselves from “noisy neighbors”, promise high performance and attend compliancy restrictions brought forth by their company and regulators.

If some out there have made the move, it would be interesting to hear why and whether any difference has been realize: usage, performance, and costs…and is it recommended.

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