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AWS Spot Instances - Save up to 90% from your on-demand instance cost

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Sarthak Shah

December 06, 2023

AWS Spot Instances are a type of cloud computing resource available on the Amazon Web Services (AWS) platform. Unlike traditional on-demand instances, spot instances are obtained through a bidding process. Users can bid for unused EC2 instances at a potentially lower cost, but they come with the caveat that they can be terminated by AWS with short notice if the capacity needs to be reclaimed for on-demand or reserved instances.

Is the AWS EC2 instance making your budget tighter than ever?

With a Spot Instance, you can request unused EC2 instances at steep discounts, lowering your Amazon EC2 costs significantly. It saves up to 90% compared to On-Demand prices.

How the spot price, the hourly price for a spot instance, is calculated is interesting. The spot price of each instance type in each availability zone is set by Amazon EC2, and adjusted gradually based on the long-term supply of and demand for spot instances. 

However, the limitation with Spot is that it runs whenever capacity is available. And the only difference between On-Demand Instances and Spot Instances is that Spot Instances can be interrupted by Amazon EC2, with two minutes of notification, when Amazon EC2 needs the capacity back.

How AWS spot instances work
How AWS spot instances work | Credit: aws.amazon.com

Benefits of spot instances 

Spot instances are a cost-effective choice if you can be flexible about when your applications run and if your applications can be interrupted.

For example, Spot instances are well-suited for data analysis, batch jobs, background processing, and optional tasks. 

Spot instances are recommended for stateless, fault-tolerant, flexible applications. For example, Spot instances work well for big data, containerized workloads, CI/CD, stateless web servers, high performance computing (HPC), and rendering workloads.

Limitations of spot instances

While running, spot instances are exactly the same as On-Demand instances.

However, Spot does not guarantee that you can keep your running instances long enough to finish your workloads. Spot also does not guarantee that you can get immediate availability of the instances that you are looking for or that you can always get the aggregate capacity that you requested. 

Moreover, Spot Instance interruptions and capacity can change over time because Spot Instance availability varies based on supply and demand, and past performance isn’t a guarantee of future results.

Spot Instances are not suitable for workloads that are inflexible, stateful, fault-intolerant, or tightly coupled between instance nodes. They’re also not recommended for workloads that are intolerant of occasional periods when the target capacity is not completely available. 

Spot best practices

  • Prepare individual instances for interruptions
  • Be flexible about instance types and Availability Zones
  • Use EC2 Auto Scaling groups or EC2 Fleet to manage your aggregate capacity
  • Use the price and capacity optimized allocation strategy
  • Use proactive capacity rebalancing
  • Use integrated AWS services to manage your Spot Instances
  • Which is the best spot request method to use?

Use cases

  • Batch Processing: Spot instances are ideal for workloads that can be parallelized, such as batch processing, rendering, or data analysis.
  • Testing and Development: Developers can use Spot Instances for testing and development environments, taking advantage of the cost savings.
  • High-Performance Computing (HPC): HPC workloads that can leverage distributed processing benefit from the cost savings offered by Spot Instances.
  • CI/CD Pipelines: Continuous Integration/Continuous Deployment (CI/CD) pipelines can utilize Spot Instances for building and testing code, optimizing costs.
  • Web Crawling: Applications that require periodic and large-scale data scraping or web crawling can leverage Spot Instances for cost-efficient computing.

AWS Spot Instance offers the most comprehensive set of capabilities and continually innovates across infrastructure and services so you can build, run, and scale applications in the cloud, on premises, and at the edge. Millions of customers, including large global enterprises, government organizations, and startups, trust the capabilities, reliability, and security of AWS Spot instances to run their most mission-critical applications.

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