AWS Reporting Engines: Tracking EC2 Instance Use

It wasn’t long before virtual machine (VM), sprawl became a major technology when it was first introduced to the public. The idea behind VM creation was that it was so simple and cheap that IT professionals didn’t have to be hesitant about creating VMs as needed.
Many organizations today create their VMs in the cloud. This is a change from the old practice of creating VMs at will.
As we have already stated, creating VMs on-premises has no real consequences. While you might have to tie up hardware resources and VM management may get more complicated with increasing numbers of VMs, there was usually no financial impact from creating new VMs.
The cloud is a different world. Amazon Web Services (AWS), a cloud provider, bills customers for the resources they use. This means that a VM can be created at will and then abandoned later, which could result in continued costs.
AWS offers its customers a reporting engine that allows administrators to keep track of Elastic Compute Cloud instances (EC2). Log in to AWS Console, navigate to the EC2 dashboard and click on the Reports option. Figure 1 shows that AWS offers two types of EC2 reports. The EC2 Reserved Instance Utilization Reports, which you can read about here, show you how reserved instances are being used. Another option is the EC2 Instance Usage Report.
[Click on the image to see a larger version.] Figure 1: AWS offers an EC2 Instance Usage Report. Click on the EC2 Instance Usage Report button to be taken to a screen similar to the one in Figure 2.
[Click on the image to see a larger view.] Figure 2: This screen is the main report screen. The bar graph is probably the first thing you’ll notice when you look at Figure 2. This graph shows the EC2 instance cost for the last three month. This graph shows that I am not a big spender. My total EC2 instance costs have been below $0.20 for each month.
This view is useful, but there are other options. You will see drop-down menus just above the graph that allow you to change the display period. Figure 3 shows me changing the view to reflect my entire year of instance usage. AWS also allows you to view daily usage patterns instead of monthly usage.
[Click on the image to see a larger view.] Figure 3: You can view usage data from a specific date range. AWS also allows you to filter the data displayed on the chart. The legend of the chart shows that the purple bars indicate the cost of VMs that have not been specified. The cost of t2.micro image are represented by the green bars.
There are no green bars because I am using the free Tier and therefore I was not charged for any t2.micro instances I created. Let’s say that these instances had some costs, so we decided to filter the view to only show the micro instances.
To filter the view, click on Instance Type in the Filters section and then select the option t2.micro, as shown in Figure 4. As you can see in Figure 4, AWS informs me that there is only one instance of t2.micro. After you have set the filter, click on the Apply Filters button to apply the filter.
[Click on the image to see a larger version.] Figure 4: AWS lets users filter by instance.