Arguing the case for cloud hosting to whoever holds the purse strings within your business might seem like a lost battle before you’ve even started. You are likely to get shot down for suggesting a service without being able to give hard figures and, as a result, your business loses out on some potentially significant cost savings by missing out on cloud-only features such as autoscaling.

Fluctuating cost

When people bandy about how fan-dabi-dozi the cloud is, it all seems great until you find out that your bills aren’t guaranteed to be the same month-to-month. With cloud hosting you only pay for what you use in any given month, which means your bills will change based on the number of days in the month – and exchange rates if the provider is not based in your region.

A fluctuating bill does not spontaneously spike for no apparent reason, though. Typically, any well architected system will respond to demand or “load” by scaling. Simply put, scaling allows the system to increase or decrease it’s capacity based on demand.

This means your bill will be based on what you’re actually using. This might be more if demand increases above expectations, but the fact of the matter is that if your cloud servers are scaling to meet higher demand, you’d have that demand regardless of which tech you have in place, and paying full time for a larger server would have cost you more.

On the flip side of this, when demand decreases so that you’re not using all of your cloud servers (or other resources), typically the unused ones get deallocated so that you’re no longer paying for them, saving you money.

Estimating your costs

With all that in mind, you may think that estimating the monthly cost of hosting in the cloud is like trying to calculate the answer to life, the universe and everything. In reality, you don’t need Deep Thought to figure out how much your cloud bill will be – just a good idea from your developers or sysadmins as to what resources they’re using and how much it takes to handle the usual demand.

From there, you can figure out that if, for example, your website sees a 10% increase in traffic on Fridays, then your bill will reflect that. When working out what our next month’s AWS bill will be, I look at the previous month, what we used, how long for, and how much it cost. I can then estimate with fair accuracy (within 10%) how much we’re likely to spend for the current or next month.

Being more cost effective

Overall, you’ll see costs shift (more so if you’re using your own equipment) from a constant that is designed to handle your busiest times, to one that’s generally low but temporarily rises to meet demand.

If you’re paying monthly for a larger server than you normally need, “just in case”, then the chances are that you would save money by switching to an autoscaling solution.

If you aren’t already using cloud hosting to manage the demands on your sites and software, get in touch with our AWS Certified team to find out more about how Cloud Hosting with AWS can work for you.