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AWS Costs

AWS Calculator: Step By Step

What is the AWS Pricing Calculator?

You can use the official, free AWS Pricing Calculator to research AWS services and generate cost estimates for future usage of AWS. The calculator lets you create a model of the workload you plan to run on AWS, define parameters like required instances, pricing models, and expected usage, and receive a detailed estimate of the expected cloud costs.

Amazon’s calculator, or similar tools, are essential for planning new deployments on AWS, assessing AWS costs, and the cost of cloud migrations or changes to existing resources.

In this article, you will learn:

How the AWS Calculator Works

To use the AWS Pricing Calculator, open the calculator page and click Generate estimate. You can now select the AWS services you expect to use and their configuration. AWS Pricing Calculator has two types of cost estimates:

  • Quick estimates - which do not require you to specify your configuration in detail.
  • Advanced estimates - which assume you have exact details about the workloads you plan to run in AWS.

Learn more about using quick and advanced estimates below.

After you provide your workload details, the resulting estimate is divided into several parts:

  • Total estimated cost showing the expected cost of your selected configuration in the first 12 months of operations - and of this amount, how much of it you will need to pay upfront (for example, if you select reserved instances with upfront payment).
  • Breakdown of estimates for each selected service - showing the upfront and monthly cost for each AWS service and its pricing components.

calc_overall_results_1Image Source: AWS

How Do You Generate a Quick Estimate?

If you need to quickly calculate your cost without providing detailed information about your workloads, you can use a quick estimate.

In a quick estimate, detailed analysis is not provided, and EC2 resource usage is assumed to be consistent over time. Advanced estimates (see below) take into account details such as the cost of data transfer, the type of workload, and other necessary options such as the frequency of EBS volumes snapshots.

calc_add_service_1Image Source: AWS

Select the following options:

  • The operating system you are using (or consider using)
  • The minimum requirements (CPU and memory) for your instance. This will automatically select the optimal instance type for your needs, but you can also directly select the instance type.
  • Pricing model—you can choose specific pricing plans, such as regular On-Demand Instances or Reserved Instances. Some plans let you enter more information, such as contract terms and upfront payments.
  • Type and size of block storage you need—Regular SSD, Preset IOPS SSD or Cold HDD.

calc_quick_2Image Source: AWS

When done, click Add to Quote.

How Do You Work with Advanced Estimates?

Advanced estimates help you fine tune with more parameters, to receive a more accurate cost estimate. To use this feature, you need an in-depth understanding of your EC2 needs and requirements.

Like in a quick estimate, an advanced estimate lets you select the operating system and instance type. It does not automatically select an instance based on minimum requirements, rather, it shows a comprehensive list of instances and lets you filter the list and select the specific instance types you need.

Beyond these, here are additional parameters available in advanced estimates:

A workload represents the usage pattern that matches your EC2 usage. When you choose a workload that closely matches your usage, it can help reduce overhead like extra on-demand instances and unused RIs. You can choose several workloads in one estimate.

Here are several workload patterns you can use to estimate your costs:

  • Constant usage—ideal for constant and predictable loads like background processes or traffic logs.
  • Daily/weekly/monthly spike—ideal for loads that peak at known periods, such as once a day for a login application, or once per month for a payroll application.

Pricing model
Like in a quick estimate, you can select between three EC2 pricing models. However, in advanced estimates you can select the Cost Optimized path, which generates estimations that combine RIs and on-demand instances to see which option is the least expensive.

Data transfer
Data transfers are subject to additional fees. You should estimate how much data you expect to download or upload on a monthly basis, and add this to the estimate to ensure your planning does not ignore data transfer costs.

Related content: read our guide to AWS data transfer cost

Attached storage and snapshots
The advanced estimates feature lets you create cost projections of snapshots of your instances and for storage attached to your instance. Snapshots help you create point in time backups of the in your instance. Attached storage helps you store logs, run databases, and create boot volumes for instances. You can add all of these costs to your main estimate for a more accurate projection.

Related content: read our guide to AWS Snapshot Pricing

Using Groups

Groups help you organize your AWS estimates according to certain categories. Here are few examples:

  • You can use groups to define the organizational structure of your company, for example, breaking down estimates by cost center, by product architecture or product stack.
  • Create groups that estimate different ways you can implement your AWS set up, to see the projected cost of several methods and then create a comparison of set ups.
  • Check the costs of running various projects on AWS. For example, you can estimate the costs of running a machine learning project on AWS, the cost of running a web application, and then see the projected AWS costs of the two combined.

Note that the AWS pricing calculator estimates costs per AWS region. To create estimates for multiple regions, you need to create a group for each chosen region.

Learn more in our detailed guide to AWS cost optimization

AWS Calculator Q&A

Why Does my Actual Bill Differ from My Estimate?

Actual bills can differ from estimates for a variety of reasons. It is difficult to accurately estimate the type, quantity and duration of resources you will use on AWS. The estimate will only be identical if your cloud usage is static. In reality, cloud usage is dynamic, and costs will vary accordingly.

One more aspect that can cause bills to differ from estimates is that the AWS Pricing Calculator uses an average monthly period to estimate service costs. Each month is adjusted to represent the same 730-hour time span, representing 1/12 of the total hours in a year. Thus, depending on the length of months in the billing period, the actual hours may differ from the estimate.

The following example shows the different costs of an On-Demand EC2 instance priced at $0.20 per hour, depending on the actual month billed. The AWS Calculator will estimate a cost of $146 per month, based on an average of 730 hours. However, the real cost for January, representing 31 days or 744 hours, will be $148.8. The cost for February in a non-leap year, representing 28 days, will be only $134.4.

Over the course of a non-leap year, the costs even out, so if you continue using the same EC2 instance throughout the year, the actual costs will correspond with the estimate. In this case, the total cost for a 12-month period, representing 8760 hours, amounts to $1752.

Related content: read our guide to AWS cost savings

Why Can’t I Change the Region of my Group or Estimate?

AWS prices services differently across different regions, with some services or service configuration options only available in certain regions. You must select your region before you can specify the services required and calculate the estimated costs accordingly.

Optimizing AWS Costs with Cloud Volumes ONTAP

NetApp Cloud Volumes ONTAP, the leading enterprise-grade storage management solution, delivers secure, proven storage management services on AWS, Azure and Google Cloud. Cloud Volumes ONTAP supports up to a capacity of 368TB, and supports various use cases such as file services, databases, DevOps or any other enterprise workload, with a strong set of features including high availability, data protection, storage efficiencies, Kubernetes integration, and more.

In particular, Cloud Volumes ONTAP storage efficiency features, including thin provisioning, data compression, and deduplication, reduce the storage footprint and costs by up to 70%.

In addition, Cloud Volumes ONTAP data tiering, automatically and seamlessly moves infrequently-used data from block storage to object storage and back, saving more storage costs.

Learn more about how Cloud Volumes ONTAP helps cost savings with these Cloud Volumes ONTAP Storage Efficiency Case Studies and these Cloud Volumes ONTAP Data Tiering Case Studies.

Visit the Cloud Volumes ONTAP AWS Storage Calculator to learn about your potential savings.

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Yifat Perry, Technical Content Manager

Technical Content Manager