How to manage Amazon WorkSpaces cost optimization at scale
Amazon WorkSpaces customers who have multiple AWS Accounts face challenges gathering an organization-wide view of their WorkSpaces spend and usage details. They ask questions such as, which accounts should we focus efforts on? How can we focus our efforts?
In this blog post I’ll walk you through available options to dive deeper into Amazon WorkSpaces cost and usage and identify cost optimization opportunities at scale of your organization to help you answer those type of questions.
AWS Cost Explorer
AWS Cost Explorer helps you explore your AWS costs and usage with an easy-to-use interface that lets you visualize, understand, and manage your AWS costs and usage over time. While Cost Explorer is helpful for a high-level overview of AWS costs, it does not provide resource level granularity for WorkSpaces.
Cost Optimizer for WorkSpaces on AWS
The Cost Optimizer for WorkSpaces on AWS solution analyzes all of your WorkSpaces usage data and automatically converts the WorkSpace to the most cost-effective billing option (hourly or monthly), depending on your individual usage. This solution helps you monitor your WorkSpace usage and optimize costs. However, customers who use WorkSpaces in multiple AWS accounts or have a delegated administration model face challenges using Cost Optimizer for WorkSpaces at scale. WorkSpaces Cost Optimizer must be deployed and monitored separately in every linked account with WorkSpaces. A common question I hear from customers is “what should our roll-out plan for Cost Optimizer for WorkSpaces be?”
AWS Cost and Usage Reports
The AWS Cost and Usage Reports (CUR) contains the most comprehensive set of cost and usage data available, including information related to product, pricing, and usage. AWS CUR is available at an hourly, daily, or monthly level of granularity and allows you to understand cost drivers at the resource-level details for all AWS services.
You can query AWS CUR reports using Amazon Athena or visualize the data in Amazon QuickSight. You can follow our documentation to create AWS CUR. It can take up to 24 hours for AWS to start delivering reports to your Amazon S3 bucket. After delivery starts, AWS updates the AWS CUR files at least once a day.
Discover WorkSpaces cost optimization opportunities by using Amazon Athena and AWS CUR
In the CUR Query Library you can find collection of curated SQL queries to get started with analyzing AWS CUR data. For WorkSpaces, you can use the list Amazon Workspaces query which provides a report with comprehensive spend and usage details for your WorkSpaces fleet across the whole organization. AWS CUR also provides cost optimization recommendations.
Let’s have a look at an example scenario:
AutoStop WorkSpaces are cost effective when used for several hours per day. For example, let’s take a Windows PowerPro (8 vCPU, 32GB RAM) bundle in eu-west-1 that runs for 400 hours per month. The cost comparison of such WorkSpace in AutoStop and AlwaysOn modes is listed in the following table. To learn more visit the WorkSpaces pricing page.
|Running mode||Monthly fee||Hourly fee||Total monthly cost|
|AutoStop||$8||$612 ($1.53/hour * 400 hours)||$620|
|AlwaysOn||$127||no hourly fee||$127|
For the same bundle switching to AlwaysOn mode becomes more cost effective if it runs more than 78 hours per month: ($127/month – $8/month)/ $1.53/hour. This threshold is slightly different for every bundle and can be calculated using the same formula. To generalize the approach we will use 80 as an average number of hours after which AlwaysOn mode becomes more cost effective than AutoStop.
The AutoStop WorkSpaces query allows you to identify all AutoStop WorkSpaces in your organization which run for more than 80 hours per month. As a result you’ll get the list of WorkSpaces and respective AWS accounts which can be cost optimized by switching from hourly billing option to monthly. Using this report, WorkSpaces Administrators can identify AWS accounts where Cost Optimizer for WorkSpaces on AWS solution is not used, or may need to be switched from dry-run mode and prioritize AWS accounts where solution should be deployed first.
By optimizing the running mode of their WorkSpaces, a large public sector customer in Europe reduced monthly spend on Amazon WorkSpaces by 23% .
Visualize WorkSpaces cost and usage with Amazon QuickSight and CUDOS dashboard
AWS CUR and Amazon QuickSight visualizes details about WorkSpaces usage and cost optimization opportunities for your organization. In the visualize and gain insights into your AWS cost and usage with Cloud Intelligence Dashboards and CUDOS using Amazon QuickSight blog my colleagues and I authored, you learn how to use the QuickSight CUDOS dashboard to get insights into your AWS spend and usage.
In the CUDOS dashboard you can find visuals for Amazon WorkSpaces by selecting the End User Computing tab. These visuals also include cost optimization opportunities such as AutoStop WorkSpaces which run more than 80 hours per month. Select each WorkSpace and see it’s hourly usage on the chart.
There are additional dimensions of WorkSpaces spend and usage such as:
- WorkSpaces spend per AWS account, bundle, region, and running mode
- WorkSpaces count per operating system, average cost per WorkSpace
- Usage details for top WorkSpaces by cost
“Using the reports from CUDOS dashboards, we’ve identified the potential financial gain of changing WorkSpaces running mode from AutoStop to AlwaysOn for instances running for more than 80h a month. With a simple switch flip, impressive cost savings can be made, depending on the bundle type and size. Currently, we’re moving towards full automation of the switching process, to minimize administrative efforts in achieving cost optimization” shared a customer who uses Amazon WorkSpaces across more than 100 AWS accounts within organization.
Customers who use Amazon WorkSpaces in multiple AWS accounts face challenges gathering an organization-wide view of their WorkSpaces spend and usage details.
In this blog post I described how you can use AWS CUR with Athena queries from CUR Query Library and QuickSight CUDOS dashboard to get organization-wide view of your WorkSpaces spend and usage details. Athena queries are used for ad-hoc analysis, while QuickSight CUDOS dashboard provides comprehensive solution to visualize insights about your WorkSpaces cost and usage across the whole organization.
Use CUDOS dashboard, in addition to Cost Optimizer for WorkSpaces on AWS solution to visualize cost optimization opportunities and impact delivered by the solution for Amazon WorkSpaces.
Did this blog help you to improve reporting or optimize cost of Amazon WorkSpaces? Leave a comment on how you and your organization track WorkSpaces usage and cost.
About the author
Yuriy is a Senior Technical Account Manager based in Luxembourg. He helps AWS customers build highly reliable and cost effective systems and also achieve operational excellence while running workloads on AWS. He is also cost optimization SME and Cloud Intelligence Dashboards author and lead.
In his free time he enjoys playing basketball and traveling all around the world.