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Amazon’s AWS Pricing Scenario

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Suppose you’re investigating moving some computing resources to Amazon’s AWS cloud. You will have several questions such as a) how much will it cost?, b) how do Windows licenses work?, and c) how can staff access those servers? I answers these in a simple way in the example scenario below.

Our example is an accounting firm that plans to add three servers to their IT resources and have decided to investigate AWS as a solution. The three servers will be comprised of 1 Windows server and two Linux servers. The Windows server will allow roaming staff to login using Remote Desktops to access some accounting software from wherever they are. The first Linux server will host the company’s Intranet and the second will be used for backups (i will explain more about backups shortly).

During this scenario we’ll refer back to the pricing table below. The prices are rounded and accurate as of mid 2018 and they’re Australian prices. See current prices for EC2 (servers) at “See current prices for EBS at “https://aws.amazon.com/ec2/pricing/”.

Operating System Server Size/Type Memory and RAM Price per Hour Price Per 30 Days
Windows t2.micro 1CPU, 1GB RAM $0.0192 $13.82
Windows t2.smalls 1CPU, 2GB RAM $0.0384 $27.65
Linux t2.micro 1CPU, 1GB RAM $0.0146 $10.51
Linux t2.small 1CPU, 2GB RAM $0.0292 $21.00

The following table is a price guide for data storage. We’ve included the costs of an EBS (elastic block storage) volume and the costs of EFS (elastic file-system) storage. The server types above (t2.small for example) use the EBS storage type (there are others). The EFS is a flexible file-system that can be attached to a Linux server to give it infinite disk space which is great for backups. See current prices for EBS at “https://aws.amazon.com/ebs/pricing/”. See current prices for EFS at “https://aws.amazon.com/efs/pricing/”.

Storage Type Price per 1GB per month Price per 100GB per month
EBS $0.12 $12.00
EFS $0.36 $36.00

Now we get to the assumptions. We know we need three servers (1 Windows server and 2 Linux servers) and the Windows server will be a type t2.small while the two Linux servers will be type t2.micro. Let’s assume we will need 100GB of disk space for the Windows server and 50GB of disk space per Linux server. The total is 200GB. The disk space will therefor cost $24 per month.

We need to backup these servers and we’ll guess that backups will be about double the disk space allocation for each server bringing us to 400GB costing $144 per month.

NOTE: Although in this scenario i have assumed the servers will store 2x the amount of data as backups as they have on their local disks, it’s realistically going to grow over time starting from nothing to something large and then growing slowly from there. Therefor we’re assuming a fully functional set of servers and backups in peak use over time.

One of the Linux servers is for backups (as i mentioned at the start of this article). That’s because we want to use EFS for backups because we don’t want to run out of disk space for our backups. The problem is that Windows can’t backup directly to EFS so we need to backup to the Linux server which will store the backups on EFS. To get a little technical here, the Linux server dedicated to doing backups mounts the EFS as something like “/mnt/efs” which it makes available to the Windows server via Samba. So the Windows server mounts the Linux server and has unlimited space to store backups. If you want to get a little more technical (and secure) we should really have the Linux sever (the one responsible for backups) go and get the data from the Windows servers and “pull” it into the EFS. That way if the Windows server (or any server for that matter) gets hacked, the hackers don’t have access to the backups.

Microsoft Windows server licenses (and Redhat licenses) are included in the cost of the EC2 (the server). But what’s not included are the Windows Remote Desktop licenses (known as CALs). These much be purchased separately. The AWS Windows server licenses do include admin access via RDP without an additional cost to allow administration of the server(s) but users aren’t included in that ability.

So let’s put it all together. The following is a list of prices for the servers and disk usage but it doesn’t include data transfers which does incur a cost but it’s a very small cost:

  • Windows server (t2.small): $27.65 + $12 (EBS) + $72 (EFS) = $111.65 p/month
  • Linux server – Intranet (t2.micro): $10.51 + $6 (EBS) + $36 (EFS) = $52.51
  • Linux server – Backups (t2.micro): $10.51 + $6 (EBS) + $36 (EFS) = $52.51

Total $216.67 p/month.

TIP: AWS does not charge for the VPC and subnets you create within it.

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