Auto Scaling allows you to scale your Amazon EC2 capacity up or down automatically according to conditions you define. With Auto Scaling, you can ensure that the number of Amazon EC2 instances you’re using increases seamlessly during demand spikes to maintain performance, and decreases automatically during demand lulls to minimize costs. Auto Scaling is particularly well suited for applications that experience hourly, daily, or weekly variability in usage. Auto Scaling is enabled by Amazon CloudWatch and available at no additional charge beyond Amazon CloudWatch fees.

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Auto Scaling enables you to closely follow the demand curve for your applications, reducing the need to provision Amazon EC2 capacity in advance. For example, you can set a condition to add new Amazon EC2 instances in increments of 3 instances to the Auto Scaling Group when the average CPU utilization of your Amazon EC2 fleet goes above 70 percent; and similarly, you can set a condition to remove Amazon EC2 instances in the same increments when CPU Utilization falls below 10 percent. Often, you may want more time to allow your fleet to stabilize before Auto Scaling adds or removes more Amazon EC2 instances. You can configure a cool-down period for your Auto Scaling Group, which tells Auto Scaling to wait for some time after taking an action before it evaluates the conditions again. Auto Scaling enables you to run your Amazon EC2 fleet at optimal utilization.

If you’re sure you want to run a fixed number of Amazon EC2 instances, Auto Scaling helps ensure you’ll always have that number of healthy Amazon EC2 instances available and running. You can create an Auto Scaling Group and set a condition that your Auto Scaling Group will always contain this fixed number of instances. Auto Scaling evaluates the health of each Amazon EC2 instance in your Auto Scaling Group and automatically replaces unhealthy Amazon EC2 instances to keep the size of your Auto Scaling Group fixed. This ensures that your application is getting the compute capacity you expect.

Let’s say that you want to make sure that the number of healthy Amazon EC2 instances behind an Elastic Load Balancer is never fewer than two. You can use Auto Scaling to set this condition, and when Auto Scaling detects that this condition has been met, it automatically adds the requisite amount of Amazon EC2 instances to your Auto Scaling Group. Or, if you want to make sure that you add Amazon EC2 instances when latency of any one of your Amazon EC2 instances exceeds 4 seconds over any 15 minute period, you can set that condition, and Auto Scaling will take the appropriate action on your Amazon EC2 instances — even when running behind an Elastic Load Balancer. Auto Scaling works equally well for scaling Amazon EC2 instances whether you’re using Elastic Load Balancing or not.