Tracking Costs for Startups

It is very difficult for any startup to; well start without utilizing cloud providers, whether it be hosting your website, utilizing compute instances or just object storage. The lists of cloud services you might need starts increasing very quickly as you build new features, find an optimal way of running things or solutions to bottlenecks, for example, dedicated database instances, caches, file systems etc. These, as predicted, cost an increasing amount of money and as any company you need to keep your margins in check. Here, keeping a check of your cloud costs becomes even more important because very heavy cloud bills can quickly start cutting into your margins and suddenly starting to look into ways to cut this cost would take up developer bandwidth. If you are a startup and you haven’t thought of cloud costs yet, this blog is FOR YOU.

Asset Inventory

Testing out a new cloud service to see if it fits your use case or running into bottlenecks and spinning up additional resources etc- These can often surprise you at the end of the month when you see your cloud bill as it shows I have been charged 200 extra dollars for the one redshift instance that I was trying out and forgot to shut it down or WOW! the number of EC2 instances went up drastically and most of them are severely underutilized but I am still paying 300 dollars extra this month.

Having a comprehensive list of your Cloud assets can be a boon here, it can help you in course correcting your cloud bill very quickly as soon as you see a new instance which is not serving a purpose anymore and you terminate it. This can further be enhanced by having utilization data along with it which can aid you in seeing underutilized resources and identifying idle resources just rocketing your cloud costs up. 

In built cost cutting tools

Most cloud providers offer a way for you to cut your cloud costs and save a significant amount of money in the long run, the only reason people don’t do it is because it has to be set up. For ex:

  1. AWS offers Reserved instances and saving plans which can help you save a lot of money in the long run as long as you know that you would be using them for a long period of time.
  2. S3 offers intelligent tiering which makes files that are not being used cost less.
  3. ECR offers lifecycle policies to remove old docker images and save up on cost. 
  4. GCP offers compute commitment plants where you can save a lot of money if you commit to 1 or 3 years of commitment.

Use Spot instances 

Spot instances offer the most cost effective ways to run your biggest workloads. Spot instances is a very underutilized feature of AWS if we consider cost savings. Running an EC2 instance at a fraction of the cost can lead to a lot of cost savings. Especially when you have a job that only requires to be ran periodically but is very resource intensive, using a spot instance which is for that instance is extremely cost effective. For reference, a t3.xlarge cost $0.166 on demand and $0.0499 on spot, which is 3x less cost. 

Tag your infrastructure

Having a proper tagging strategy can lead to a lot of time and effort saved once you are working on cost cutting strategies. Grouping your resources by what function do they serve like test environment or production environment, by which developer spun it up or are they covered under RI or not. These can help you in tracking cost extremely effectively since you will be able to see which instance belongs to which developer or environment, removing a lot of back and forth questioning on them.

With a helping hand, you can do so much better!

As you’re chasing towards seeking the product market fit, trying to gain those first 30 loyal customers, you will find yourself measuring your success in terms of number of new user registrations, active user engagement metrics, technical KPIs like performance of the application or the revenue being generated. 

However, cloud costs are one frequently overlooked metric that startups forget to monitor. This is mainly because usage-based infrastructure providers make it difficult to collect and track this data. The credits granted to you by providers like AWS, GCP, Azure will be exhausted soon, most of the Startups tend to forget about them until they expire and are suddenly faced with figuring out their rocketing cloud bills.

But we understand that, being considerate about costs and accounting for them properly takes significant engineering time and you don’t have that bandwidth.We are starting “OpsLyft for Startups” offering free tiers to all the early stage startups. You can get up and running in a few minutes, collaborate with your team-members with cost reports and actionable insights directly sent to your slack channels and emails, no more going back and forth between multiple dashboards! Schedule a demo and take a look at the solutions we have built to handle the same for you. Or just drop us a mail at and we will get back to you in minutes! 🙂

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