Posted by
Lanir Shacham
September 11, 2019

Before you finalize your calculations for Total Cost of Ownership on AWS each month, make sure that you’ve considered data transfer costs. Here are 10 of the top facts that you need to know before you get started using cloud services.

1. Data transfer fees can be higher than you think

While many businesses focus on computing and storage requirements, data transfer can be a hefty portion of your monthly outgoings on the cloud. If you don’t consider these at the outset, you might find yourself with a nasty surprise when the invoice rolls in.

2. Your fees might often feel unpredictable

AWS doesn’t keep things simple! Your data transfer costs will vary depending on how much data you transfer, which services you’re transferring data between, and the Regions and Availability Zones you use. Extra costs can appear on your invoice that you didn’t anticipate, such as NAT gateway fees, when instances in a private subnet communicate with the internet, at $0.048/GB per hour.

3. Think Regions!

One of the most important first steps to cloud migration is understanding Regions. This is an important element of keeping costs low on AWS. First, think about where you want to store your data. Closest to home is not always necessary, or cost-effective. Next, consider the number of Regions you use carefully, as usually the fewer Regions your data transfers span, the lower the financial impact at the end of the month.

4. Not all services will cost you equally

There’s also the consideration of the services you use to handle your data. Each service will have its own financial considerations for data transfer costs. Some services will charge between Regions but not to different Availability Zones within the same Region. Others will charge for both types of transfer. Get to know the services you use and what alternative options there are, if any. One good example is using VPC endpoints instead of NAT gateways, to continue the example above.

5. Billing Alarms exist, and can help you as you get used to the cloud

Similar to an alert that lets you know when you’ve used a certain amount of data on your mobile phone, AWS offers a Billing Alarms system, where you can monitor your estimated charges and be alerted when your costs exceed these. Updated several times a day, this should stop any sky-high data transfer bills from arriving. However, you still need to proactively ensure it doesn’t happen again.

6. Your invoice may need some translation

Can’t I just wait and see what my invoice says after month number one? Even if this was a financially viable choice, your AWS invoice can be complex to read. Like with most raw data, information can need some translation before it’s ready to be actionable to your business context. Instead, understanding what the transfer costs are from the start can help you manage both expectations and infrastructure.

7. You’re probably wasting resources

Even with an accurate translation, your invoice is not going to tell you when you’re using servers or routes that you don’t need. For this, you need full visibility into which servers are responsible for traffic and costs, with a single pane of glass approach to communications across your whole environment, both cloud and on-premises.

8. Beware the bells and whistles!

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that extra features are going to result in extra zeroes on your invoice each month. One good example is AWS Transfer Acceleration. Using edge networking and network route optimization, this tool promises faster transfer speeds, but it comes at a premium price. Consider looking at manual or automated ways to speed up data transfer, such as compressing and caching according to best practices.

9. Look for simple integration as a must-have

AWS data transfer costs are complicated enough, without adding complexity from your third-party tools. Any visibility solution that needs to onboard agents or credentials to the workload will slow down your performance, or make flexibility a non-starter. Instead, look for a solution that uses network traffic analysis and can give you a real-time map based on wire data.

10. You’re going to need support!

The cloud opens doors for incredible innovation, power and scale. But that doesn’t mean that your enterprise can navigate this new journey alone. On the contrary, the best way to hit the ground successfully on AWS is to find expert vendors and consultants that can guide you with best practices that are tried and tested. Data transfer costs are a minefield if you’re new to the AWS cloud, so make sure that you have a full map of your environment before you get started.

For more information on data transfer costs and how to avoid the common pitfalls, check out our white paper. When you’re ready to map your environment for lower costs on AWS, get in touch.