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If you spend time on Google or if you read magazines, you’ve run into the ever present “Top 5 things you can do” article. Each list is like a Tic Tac – – it takes a second to consume and gives you just a little bit of good feeling. Lists are frequently trite, however, because they state what everyone already knows. But lists attract attention and in the end that’s what I want to do; ATTRACT YOUR ATTENTION.

So here’s my list… Top 5 Things IT Leaders Need to do to Spend as Little as Possible in AWS. Fine Print: This is different than the 100 lists out there titled.. Top 5 Things to do to Optimize your Cloud… put out there by CloudHealth, CloudCheckr, Cloudability, and the rest.

1) Commit to an AWS Managed Service provider:
Many reading will view this as self-serving, after all I work for an AWS MSP. Put that concern aside. Unless a business has an internal team that has been managing an AWS environment for years, has AWS certifications, has a understanding of the inner workings of AWS sales teams, has eyes on visibility & security tools 24x7x365, and has the funds to employ a team like this, there’s no way that the business can spend as little as possible with AWS. This is the first, and most import thing to do if spending as little as possible is your goal.

2) Draft a solid Agreement:
The business needs a rock solid agreement with its AWS MSP. It will be difficult to come to terms, but spelling out the expectations is critical to short and long term success. Flexibility on the part of the AWS MSP will be key. The business needs to consider an AWS MSP that creates a customized Statement of Work. One that covers the responsibilities of both sides and has the financial flexibility to change as the AWS relationship changes. An AWS MSP who values the on-demand fluid nature of AWS services will structure an agreement that also is fluid in nature. Managed Service pricing can and, often times, should change as the AWS environment changes. Finding a partner that operates in this manner will be challenging. This approach is the only approach that will allow for the business to spend as little as possible with AWS.

3) Build a strategy together:
Once the business commits to an AWS Managed Services Partner, the business needs to embrace that partner. IT needs to realize that this partnership will be unlike a traditional Network or Data Center Managed Services provider. It will be a difficult concept for IT leadership to digest due to the level of trust required. An effective AWS MSP relationship will involve a blend of engineering expertise and administrative expertise. There will also be a local lead resource who will be available to be onsite at least a few times a week. This individual will need to have more, or at least equivalent, expertise building in AWS than any internal resource. Once the engagement starts, it’s that partner engineering resource who ensures that the AWS environment is well built. Upon validation of the environment, the AWS MSP’s admin team will gain an understanding of the budgetary targets and savings expectations, then will create policy with the customer’s oversight using AWS and 3rd Party tools. Most policies will be enforced in an automated fashion with tools that the AWS MSP brings with them. Some policies will be enforced manually. Once the policies are well understood, a joint effort to set them up and commence the service has to be managed closely. Rushing this process will cause future problems. You can’t spend as little as possible in AWS without a strategy that both sides agree on.

4) Manage your AWS Managed Service Partner:
Inspect what you expect. At first, the most time consuming job for the IT leader responsible for continuously reducing the AWS spend will be managing the AWS MSP team. The tools that the AWS MSP brings with them will produce almost an unlimited amount of data. Working with the team to create dashboards and reports that can be viewed at any time from any device is important. The data must be as close to real time as possible and the reports should clearly show month over month, quarter over quarter, and year over year savings results. On top of this, the AWS MSP should be available for as many meetings/touchpoints as is needed to effectively manage cost out of the AWS environment. Typically the AWS MSP will provide administrative and technical resources for no less than 50 hours per month. The IT leadership should expect a lot from these resources and manage to the tasks laid out in the agreement, while reviewing performance at least monthly. Remember, they will work for you.

5) Work with a Team and a process not a Brand:
If you have followed the 4 things detailed above, communication with your AWS MSP will be frequent and transparent. The agreement by which the service is governed will be well written and will be the judge and jury in difficult times when service levels aren’t living up to expectations. An excellent AWS MSP won’t look or feel like IBM, CSC, or AT&T. They will be a local company with a tenured team of certified AWS engineers. Successful technology initiatives, no matter what the size, rely on teams of no more than 8 people. AWS’ CEO, Andy Jassey, incorporates a policy for all internal meetings: the amount of people at each meeting should never need more than one pizza for lunch. Your effective AWS MSP won’t be a guy and his dog working out of their garage. It will be an Advanced AWS Partner in the next town that has at least one team of 5-8 people that will make commitments and exceed expectations. They should bring new ideas on how to drive down AWS cost every week. They should be considered part of your team. Their mission should be to help you spend as little as possible in AWS.

So there’s your Tic Tac for the day. I think PTP can do all of these things better and cheaper than just about all our competitors. We will help you spend as little as possible in AWS…. Months from now, the CFO will see how much your decision saved the company and give you a huge raise. So you got that going for ya.

On a more tactical level, here’s another list.

Top 5 Things PTP does to reduce AWS spend
1) Shut down idle EC2 instances
2) Shut down unused EC2 instances
3) Right size all over provisioned instances
4) Set up automated tiering in S3
5) Recommend On-Demand to RI move based on activity

If your job is to do these 5 things, you have the time to do them every day, and have continued to spend less in AWS each month, I don’t want to hear from you.

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