Blue Chip Tek Doubled Database Performance and Reduced Cost by 35%

Blue Chip Tek was asked by a Silicon Valley security company to assess and optimize their AWS spend.  Read more to find out how we were able to reduce our customers cost by 35%

We were asked by a Silicon Valley security company to assess and optimize their AWS spend. Our initial analysis determined that their AWS spend broke down as follows: approximately 49% of their spend on EBS, 19% of their spend on EC2, 14% of their spend on S3, 9% of their spend on AWS support and the remainder on other AWS services. As EBS represented a majority of their spend, we decided to focus our efforts there.

Our investigation led to a case where we discovered a 600 GB, 18000 PIOPS volume attached to an r3.large EC2 instance running Microsoft SQL Server – this volume accounted for roughly 15% of their spend.

AWS doesn't provide specifics for the throughout (MB/s) or PIOPS an r3.large instance is capable of utilizing – although we know that the larger r3.xlarge instances are only capable of utilizing 4000 PIOPS. In this particular case we believed we’d discovered the best opportunity for performance optimization and cost reduction: increasing the instance size and enabling EBS Optimization while decreasing the number of provisioned IOPS to a number that the EC2 instance could efficiently utilize. Here’s a quick summary:


Existing Client Configuration:

·         Volume Capability: 18,000 PIOPS

·         Server Capability/Price (an r3.large): less than 4,000 PIOPS, $135/mo

·         Volume Cost at 18,000 PIOPS: $1378

·         Volume Cost at 4,000 PIOPS: $370

·         Summary: 4,000 PIOPS at $1,513/mo


Higher Performance / Lower Cost Configurations:

Proposal 1:

·         Volume Capability: 6,000 PIOPS

·         Server Capability/Price (m4.xlarge): 6,000 PIOPS, $204/mo

·         Volume Cost: 6,000 PIOPS at $432

·         Summary: 6,000 PIOPS at $636/mo

Proposal 2:

·         Volume Capability: 8,000 PIOPS

·         Server Capability/Price (m4.2xlarge): 8,000 PIOPS, $408/mo

·         Volume Cost: 8,000 PIOPS at $576

·         Summary: 8,000 PIOPS at $984/mo


If we went with the m4.xlarge, we would have seen a 50% increase in PIOPS for 42% of the cost.  An m4.2xlarge with 8,000 POIPS gave us a 100% increase for 65% of the cost.

As a result of our performance and cost optimization efforts, we were able to put forward two proposals for increased performance of the EBS volume on the customer’s SQL server while also saving at least 35%. We added these findings into our OptimizedCloud product’s “EBS Evaluator” tool – to ensure that future customers would receive the best performance available for the AWS spend on EBS volumes. For the technically inclined, part 2 of this post will describe some of the EBS volume testing we did to support our proposed infrastructure changes.



·         US West EBS Provisioned IOPS SSD (io1) volume at current $0.072 per PIOPS/mo -

·         US West On-demand EC2 instance cost for m4.xlarge and m4.2xlarge at $0.0279/hr and $0.559/hr respectively. [Calculated at (cost*24*365)/12] -