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We Significantly Reduced Our AWS Cost Per Customer While Reinforcing Team Culture With Trust

Here’s How We Did It At Identity Automation

At Identity Automation, my engineering teams build and support the digital identity platform for education. Through our flagship product RapidIdentity, we empower educators and students everywhere with access to secure, reliable, and flexible learning environments.

Under COVID remote learning protocols of the 2020-2021 school year, demand for daily usage of educational technologies skyrocketed, causing exceptional demand and load on RapidIdentity. We were operating at near-constant all-hands-on-deck mode to ensure our mission-critical infrastructure for education delivery remained performing, no matter the expense.

By March 2021, I was confident in our ability to deliver exceptional performance and needed to turn my attention to controlling the AWS bills that were growing rapidly as we serviced the demand. Conventional wisdom, and plenty of online advice, told me that I should be adopting strict cloud governance procedures to rein in spending, but I fundamentally believe that the more you lock down your team the more you kill innovation. I also researched enterprise-grade cost management tools like Cloudability and CloudHealth, but found it extremely difficult to validate whether the products would work for us in a trial setting and worried their pricing based on a percentage of our AWS bill would pit our incentives against each other.

To my relief, I found Aimably. Not only was it easy to try and buy, but the signature modules of Pulse, Warn and Insight automatically delivered detailed AWS cost data to our entire engineering team, allowing me to educate and inform all employees of their impact on our gross margins. I also found that I could fit in Aimably as a supporting partner to our relationship with Parquantix, the team that manages our Reserved Instances, instead of trying to replace them.

Three months later, I’m really proud of my team. Through Aimably, we’ve proven out a culture of post-implementation verification, where every team member can visualize the cost impact of their changes and course-correct if there were any unexpected consequences. At the leadership level, I’ve transformed our compensation incentives to track Daily Cost as a key performance indicator instead of a monthly model, which reinforces accountability and has accelerated our time to results.

“With Aimably, people are slowing down and thinking a little more about the role they play in our company. That’s priceless.”

— Michael Webb

The results aren’t too shabby either. We’ve been able to decrease our monthly AWS bill by a 15% monthly average, in comparison to a 16% average monthly increase across the twelve months prior. Our cost per customer is down by 50% a month and we’re currently paying 33% less per month than our highest bill in September 2020.

Looking to the year ahead, we’re not in any rush to implement more radical AWS cost reduction as innovation remains our primary focus. That being said, our team-wide accountability to cost impact through Aimably is here to stay.

The Aimably Way