Andrew Nhem - February 15, 2017

Digging into AWS data transfer costs: finding and lowering them

How do you lower the data transfer line item on your AWS bill? Let's explore a way to dig into those costs at their sources and learn how to optimize them to improve your cloud management and cost efficiency.

Curious about how to lower the data transfer line item on your AWS bill? Let’s explore a way to dig into those costs at their sources and learn how to optimize them to improve your AWS cost efficiency.

What are AWS data transfer costs?

AWS services that send data from one resource to another (whether AWS or other) likely incur a data transfer cost. Some services waive data transfer costs. However, most incur a charge.

A few factors that can affect the rate in which folks are charged for data transfer costs include:

  • Service type
  • Amount of data sent and received
  • Regions involved
  • IP addresses

How to uncover data transfer costs at their sources

Looking at data transfer costs with default billing tools alone doesn’t reveal much of a story. We can see how much it costs us to send and receive data across our AWS infrastructure and to our users, but that high-level cost doesn’t tell us which part of our app or service generated those costs, nor which kinds of operations incurred them.

Using a cloud cost management tool, like Cloudability, we can break down the big data transfer figure into usable dimensions that will help us suss out where and why these charges occur.

Looking at data transfer costs by department or project

If you’re curious about where data transfer costs are coming from within your organization and infrastructure, you’ll want to break those overall costs down by individual projects and teams. Your mileage will vary depending on how well you have your AWS accounts tagged. Here’s the highest level look at data transfer using the dimension “Usage Family” and “Service Name” to see data transfers by AWS service.

Taking it a step further, we can see which projects or teams incurred these charges by adding the “Service tag” dimension.

Slicing the data this way lets us see that EC2 data transfer costs are coming from specific Service teams (this team or project identifier will differ by how your organization tags for ownership). This kind of data can help kick off beneficial conversations with project owners on how to optimize their AWS costs.

Digging into data transfer costs by operation and unique resource

Once you have an idea of which team is creating the data transfer costs, the next step is to figure out which of their activities is incurring those fees. We can add the “operation” dimension to this table to dig even deeper into the data transfer cost data.

We can dive into these costs at their “Resource ID” level, the raw identifier of any AWS resource at work. This is a great table to show engineers or operations-types if they’re wondering which specific assets they need to keep an eye on to help mitigate data transfer costs.

These are examples of reports that help discover where rogue data transfer costs could be coming from. This kind of analysis is great to create common, data-backed ground that will help facilitate cross-discipline discussions about how to lower and optimize costs.

Find the source of data transfer costs and take action

Using these tactics will allow you to turn a figure on the AWS bill into talking points to discuss with your teammates  with the goal of improving AWS cost efficiency for your business. These methods are just a few of many that can help shed a lot of light on AWS costs, allowing groups to spend more efficiently and gain much more value from AWS.

These kinds of reports can also be curated into larger dashboards that can help keep finance teams and other non-technical folks in the know. Using a cloud cost management tool, like Cloudability, can make this dashboard building easy, so you can continuously inform the people in your business who need this information. Try this out with your own data by signing up for a Free Trial.

To dive into more data transfer exercises, or dig into other AWS costs at their sources, we recommend getting in touch with our AWS experts. One free consultation can unlock all kinds of actionable insights to help your business save big on AWS.

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