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what is aws ec2

Which Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) instance type to select is one of the most crucial decisions you will need to make when it comes to hosting apps on Amazon Web Services (AWS). You may use EC2 instances, which are virtual computers, to execute your apps on AWS. They are available in different shapes and sizes (referred to as instance families), with each one serving a particular function. For your application to run optimally and to incur the lowest possible expenses, selecting the appropriate instance offering and instance size is essential. This goal is far simpler to express than to do because every application’s demand profile is distinct and subject to vary over time. Although the 2xlarge instance of a particular family may not be required, it becomes appealing when application teams assign cloud operations the responsibility of ensuring uptime. That is, until cloud costs soar.

In this blog article, we’ll look at the difficulties involved in choosing the optimal Amazon EC2 instance type for your application and provide you some best practices for doing so. Additionally, we’ll discuss how machine learning, auto-scaling, and automation may be used by a program like IBM Turbonomic to rightsize your aws cloud apps. Start your free 30-day trial today if you are acquainted with Turbonomic and want to start optimizing your AWS setup right away.

Acquiring Knowledge of AWS EC2 Instance Types

Based on attributes like CPU, memory, storage, and networking capabilities, EC2 instances are categorized. Each instance type is tailored to maximize performance for a particular workload, such as general-purpose computing, memory-intensive programs, or computation-intensive jobs. Following are some EC2 instance type samples and their main use cases:

  • General Purpose Examples (series A, T, M, and C): Web servers, tiny databases, development and testing environments, as well as other workloads, are some of the workloads that general-purpose instance types are intended to handle. The m5 instance, the most recent iteration of General Purpose Instances powered by Intel Xeon Platinum 8175M or 8259CL processors, is a member of this category. These instances are a suitable option for many applications because they offer a balance of computation, memory, and network capabilities.
  • The C and R series of compute-optimized instances: are designed for applications that require a lot of computation, such high-performance computing, batch processing, and scientific modeling. These situations use a GPU and a CPU with a high core count to optimize computational power.
  • Memory-optimized instances (X, Z, and R series): These memory-rich instances are designed for memory-demanding applications including high-performance databases, distributed in-memory caches, and real-time data processing/big data analytics.
  • Instances with optimized storage (I, D, and H series):Storage-intensive tasks including big data, data warehousing, and log processing may be accommodated by storage-optimized instances (I, D, and H series). To accommodate the heavy read and write workloads, they make use of solid state drives (SSD) and high capacity caching.

Problems Selecting the Correct AWS EC2 Instance Type

It might be difficult to choose the best EC2 instance type for your application. The following are some difficulties you could encounter:

Complexity: Choosing the right instance offering for your application might be difficult given the wide range of options available. The greatest match for your application now might not necessarily be the best fit for your application several months from now because Amazon frequently adds new instance types to its service catalog.

  • How Turbonomic can be of assistance: Turbonomic continually ingests the specifications of the complete AWS service catalogue and maps your workloads’ resource consumption profiles—both their baseline and percentile-based peaks—to the best-fit instance types.

Type of Workload: What kind of workload will your application be operating under? Is the task computationally intense, or does it demand a large amount of memory or storage? You may focus your search on instance types that are best for your workload after you have a thorough knowledge of it.

Performance requirements: Should you choose a smaller, slower instance type for light workloads or a larger, faster instance type for heavy workloads? Does the workload support an internal administrative application or a low-latency, customer-facing application? What data locality standards will you have to follow? Remember that an instance type’s performance might change based on the location and the way your application is used.

  • How Turbonomic helps: Cloud cost optimization software makes it simple to identify the kind of workload across a whole hosting environment. Turbonomic automatically determines the best instance family and instance type to support the workload based on the workload’s current and historical utilization of its vCPU, memory, storage access (IOPS), net throughput, I/O throughput, storage amount, reserved instance coverage, database vMemory, database vCPU, database storage amount, database I/O throughput, RI inventory, and RI coverage

Scalability: You must make sure that the instance type you select has the flexibility to scale up or down in response to changes in workload and traffic. Additionally, you must understand the scalability requirements of the apps that each EC2 instance will host. Scalability and performance needs must be taken into account jointly if the application is made up of microservices.

  • How Turbonomic can help: Depending on how each application is built to scale, Turbonomic can drive the most affordable scale up / scale down activities as well as make sure scale out / scale in actions are carried out in the most cost-effective way feasible.

Cost: When selecting an EC2 instance type, cost is one of the most crucial factors to take into account. You must take into account the instance type’s hourly cost in addition to any additional fees for data transport, storage, and other AWS services. The intricacy of the cost computation is further increased by the numerous pricing methods, such as reserved instances and savings programs (described in this blog article).

  • How Turbonomic can help: Turbonomic is made to guarantee your applications’ performance at the lowest cost. You can begin a free 30-day trial right now and start seeing benefits in only 30 minutes!

Choosing the Best AWS EC2 Instance Type: Best Practices

Here are some best practices we urge our clients and partners to adhere to now that you are aware of the most frequent difficulties in selecting the ideal EC2 instance.

1. Recognize your workload

Knowing your workload is the first and most crucial step in choosing the best EC2 instance type. Understanding what your program requires in order to function properly is crucial since every application has varied needs in terms of CPU, memory, network, and storage.

For instance, operating a database application may require a significant amount of RAM to effectively process queries. On the other side, you could require a high-performance CPU if you are running a compute-intensive application.

You may gather information on resource use using tools like AWS CloudWatch or third-party monitoring solutions to have a better picture of your workload. The best instance type for your application may then be chosen using this data.

2. Think about the CPU

One of an EC2 instance’s most important parts, the CPU decides how powerful the instance will be in terms of processing. Search for an instance type with a larger CPU count and clock speed if your application demands high CPU performance.

The C5, M5, and R5 families are only a few of the CPU-optimized instance types that AWS provides and are intended for high-performance computing applications. These instances are tailored for applications that need high CPU use and come with the most recent version of AWS Graviton3 processors, which are custom-built and represent a considerable increase over Graviton2. However, you can choose a less expensive instance type with no GPU and a lower CPU count, such the T3 family, if your application does not require great CPU performance.

3. Take into account Memory

Another crucial element of an EC2 instance is memory, which governs how much data the instance can handle concurrently. Look for an instance type with a higher memory capacity if your application needs a lot of memory.

But if your application doesn’t need a lot of memory, you may use a less expensive instance type with less memory, such the T3 family.

For memory-intensive tasks, AWS provides a range of memory-optimized instance types, including the X1, R4, and z1d families. These instances have a lot of RAM and are designed to work well with memory-intensive programs like in-memory databases.

But if your application doesn’t need a lot of memory, you may use a less expensive instance type with less memory, such the T3 family.

4. Take into account the Network

Another crucial element of an EC2 instance is the network, which governs how quickly data can be transported to and from the instance. You should seek for an instance type with a bigger network bandwidth if your application demands good network performance.

Network-intensive workloads may be accommodated by a number of network-optimized instance types that AWS offers, including the C5n and high-performance computing HPC families. These instances have fast network interfaces and are designed for use with high-network-utilization applications.

You can choose a less expensive instance type with a lesser network bandwidth, such the T3 family, if your application does not require excellent network performance.

5. Think About the Storage

As it limits how much data may be saved on the instance, storage is the last crucial component of an EC2 instance. If your application needs a lot of storage, you should opt for an instance type (Elastic Block Store, or EBS) that has a higher storage capacity. Proceed with caution, though, as storage is one of the most expensive cloud resources and may quickly lead to wasteful spending through idle and disconnected EBS volumes.

The I3 and D2 families of storage-optimized instance types, for example, are made for workloads that require a lot of storage. These instances are designed for applications that demand high IOPS throughput and have a lot of SSD storage as well as local storage.

However, you may choose a less expensive instance type with a smaller HDD-based storage capacity, such the T3 family, if your application doesn’t need a lot of storage.

6. Think about the pricing structure

For EC2 instances, AWS provides a number of pricing options, including On-Demand, Reserved Instances, and Spot Instances. Each model has pros and cons, so it’s important to pick the one that works best for your workload and financial situation.

On-Demand instances are available at hourly rates with no commitment up front. They function well for projects with a limited timeline or workloads with fluctuating demand.

In exchange for a one-time upfront payment, reserved instances provide a significant hourly rate savings. They perform well for tasks that demand long-term dedication and predictable consumption.

You may bid on available EC2 capacity using spot instances, which can result in considerable cost reductions. They operate best, though, with workloads that can put up with interruptions and have adjustable start and finish timings.

7. Test and Improve

It is crucial to test and optimize your application after choosing an EC2 instance type to make sure it is operating well. You may track the performance of your application and see any bottlenecks or potential improvement areas using tools like AWS CloudWatch or IBM Instana.


For your AWS infrastructure to operate efficiently and cost-effectively, you must choose the appropriate EC2 instance type. You can make sure that you are getting the most out of your EC2 instances by comprehending your workload, taking into account the CPU, memory, network, and storage needs, selecting the appropriate pricing model, testing and optimizing your application, and so on.

Because your workload and infrastructure requirements might vary over time, choosing the optimum instance type is not a choice that should be made only once. Your AWS infrastructure may function at its best in terms of performance and cost-effectiveness if your EC2 instance types are continuously assessed and improved.

By continually evaluating the resource needs of your AWS applications and producing targeted actions that save costs and maintain the right-sized configuration of your EC2 instances, IBM Turbonomic can assist you in managing this process automatically. Within 30 minutes, Turbonomic creates optimization activities using machine learning and automation, is simple to integrate with your AWS and AWS Billing accounts.


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