How We Optimize Based on Resource Utilization Data

We frequently get asked what makes our AWS cost optimization so good. AWS cost management feels like it should be easy, and we talk to a lot of folks who think they’ve done a good job of it. The fact is, we’ve yet to see anyone who’s not wasting at least 40% of their EC2 bill. Let’s walk through it on our platform, and it’ll make sense why.

screenshot of a virtual machine report within the Sunshower platform

Fitting an Instance

It all starts with knowing what you’re actually using, resource-wise. Figuring this out as a human is surprisingly hard. For Sunshower, we look at the past month of a virtual machine’s life (if we have it — that’s our default) and sample every minute (by default, but it’s adjustable). After smoothing the data, that’s how we discover, in this case, 1 CPU (of the 8 they’re paying for) and 10G RAM (of the 30 they’re paying for) are actually being used.

In the screenshots below, you can see the resulting “shape” of the workload on the virtual machine. First, on the left: current vs utilized. The grey is what they’re currently paying for, and the purple is what they’re utilizing. Frankly, it LOOKS like a pretty good fit.

To compare, let’s look at the screenshot on the right: optimized vs utilized. There’s our purple triangle of utilization again. This time, you’ll see the optimized fit we found in blue. Even though the blue section looks a lot bigger, it actually reflects a substantial cost savings over the original, grey fit on the left.

resource utilization compared to purchased virtual machine

How is that possible? The thing you’re really paying for, in most machines, is CPU and Memory. So, the closer a fit you can get on those, the better. In the image on the left, you can see that the majority of the overprovisioning is taking place in the most expensive areas of cloud spend: CPU and memory. Tightening that fit up in CPU and memory, like you see represented in blue in the image on the right, might look like an incremental change from the image on the left, but in reality it adds up.

But, if the image on the right reflects cost savings and better optimization, why does the optimized fit in blue look so much bigger? The newer generations of AWS machines have 5G networking out-of-the-box now, meaning newer generation machines get you a lot more compute power for a lot cheaper.

Getting the Optimization

So, who’s this blue optimized beauty we recommended? It’s that r5.large that we show in the middle select box. We find the instance size that will get you the greatest cost-savings by default, but also give you our top ten recommendations.

screenshot of the top 10 instance size recommendations

One of the things we always find remarkable is how big of a difference there even is even within our cloud optimization results. In this case, our top recommendation is $61.50 a month cheaper than our bottom recommendation. (We do month calculations based on AWS’s 750 hours.)

When the machines start to add up, you can see how the savings (or the waste) also start to add up. It can be painful to watch. That’s why at, we demystify cloud computing by giving you tools to easily manage the entire lifecycle of your cloud infrastructure. We automate all the decisions and present you with the best options across different vendors and clouds so you can be sure that you’ve achieved total cloud cost optimization. We want to help companies clear away cloud confusion, and empower them to create the most efficient cloud management system possible.

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