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Why Should You Turn Off Your Public Cloud Servers When Not in Use?

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Why Should You Turn Off Your Public Cloud Servers When Not in Use?

October 24, 2016

Five good reasons to not keep your servers running 24x7

When you spin up a public cloud computing server, the easiest thing to do is to leave it running. In fact, it’s easy to forget it’s running at all. Until you get the bill.  There are many good reasons to avoid this “set it and forget it” approach to cloud management.

Non-production servers – those that are used for development, staging, testing, etc. – are generally only needed during business hours. That means that for around 65 percent of the week, they’re running when no one is using them.

Here are five reasons why you should absolutely turn those servers off at those times.

1. To Save Money

The core cloud computing services offered by every major public cloud provider are billed by the hour (or minute). It’s like a utility; if you leave the lights on, you’ll be charged for the electricity, whether you’re in the room or not.

By simply turning servers off on nights and weekends (leaving them running only 40 hours of a 168 hour week), you can knock about 75 percent off their cost. Depending on the size of your infrastructure, we’ve seen this translate into thousands, hundreds of thousands, or even millions of dollars saved per year. This alone is a huge motivator for many companies to put off-time policies in place.

2. To Improve Security

It’s pretty simple: if your servers are off, they are much harder to hack. Turning them off also simplifies the surrounding active security measures that are necessary when your servers are running. They don’t need to be monitored by the network operations center; they don’t need to be virus scanned; there is less traffic for the packet sniffers to have to process; and you don’t have to worry about unauthorized login attempts after hours.  

3. To Reduce Environmental Impact

Jay Chapel
CEO of ParkMyCloud

In the aggregate, cloud computing customers have enormous potential in their hands to reduce energy demand and carbon emissions. If you turn off your instances when they’re not being used, you free that space for active instances. Together, this helps create the cloud ideal: efficient data centers. And the more efficient each data center is, the fewer data centers are needed.

While AWS and other cloud service providers are making efforts to use more renewable energy resources and reduce carbon emissions, today they are still a huge drain of non-renewable resources. This makes efficient use of current infrastructure all the more important.

4. Because Werner Said So

At the recent AWS Summit in New York City, Amazon CTO Werner Vogels actually told his users to turn off their instances when they go home for the night. Werner cites cost savings and eliminating waste as reasons to do so:

“Waste is anything that doesn’t benefit your customers. … One way to save really significant dollars in dev and test is to switch your resources off when you go home. Typically you can save up to 75 percent on their dev and test costs just by switching resources off when you go home.”

What better endorsement do you need?

5. For Peace of Mind

When you turn your servers off when not in use, you’ll be able to rest with a smile on your face. You’ll know that you’re doing your part to save money for your company, protect the environment and stay secure.

So, how do you turn off a server?

You could turn off servers manually by writing scripts or logging into your cloud service provider every afternoon to turn them off, but inevitably, you will forget – not to mention how much work this is. Worse, you might even forget to turn them on the next day, causing your developers and testers to flood your Slack.

The easiest way to stop and start servers is with an automatic schedule. To “park” your instances, you assign them schedules of hours they will run or be temporarily stopped – i.e. parked and when they will turn back on.  As noted, most non-production instances (dev, test, staging, and QA) can be parked at nights and on weekends, when they are not being used. Happy parking!

Edited by Alicia Young

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