5 Little Known Facts About Spot Instances


Spot Instances are deeply discounted compute capacity that can provide up to 90% savings over On-demand instances. In other words, for the same budget you get 2-10x times the compute capacity. This is  lucrative for enterprises running compute intensive workloads such as video transcoding, big data analytics (Hadoop, Spark processing), log analysis and other batch jobs.

However, enterprises have not gotten around to using Amazon Spot instances effectively, though they have been around for over 7 years. RightScale published the “State of the Cloud” report recently and “cost optimization” was one of the key challenges reported by enterprise AWS users. Not so surprisingly, only 14% of the enterprises are looking at using Spot Instances as a cost optimization model.

Most of you who have explored spot instances would know that the price determination occurs dynamically based on demand-supply economics. We have listed 5 interesting things that you might not know about Spot:

    1. Spot price differs across AZ’s (Availability Zones) in the same region – Different AZ’s within a region can have completely different pricing for the same instance type. It is important to launch an instance at a specific AZ by monitoring the price whenever you need an instance. This can result in great savings (or losses if done incorrectly)
    2. Spot Blocks are instances which you can block for a finite duration (1-6 hours). These instances provides more reliability than regular spot instances (you are guaranteed availability for the entire duration) but are more pricier than spot (30-45% less than on-demand as against 80-90% savings using spot). These are really good for defined-duration workloads and if used in conjunction with spot instances and reserved instances can be used for other workloads as well (which is what Batchly does)


  1. You can run your Big Data/Hadoop Jobs (through Amazon EMR) on spot instances for great savings on large workloads. This however, requires one to bid, manage and monitor the instances (similar to regular spot instances). One best practice is to run the task nodes on spot while running your filesystem (HDFS, Hbase etc) in Master & core nodes on AWS on-demand.
  2. Until recently, spot instance would get taken off the moment you got outbid. This gave no time for workloads to perform any evasive action (to store the state or transfer processed information). This changed last year and now you get a 2 minute warning or “Termination Notice” to help you manage your application and take necessary preventive action.
  3. Spot Instance limits – Just like many other AWS services, Spot instances also has soft limits (only 20 spot instances to begin with). This can however be changed by submitting a request to AWS.

Bonus point: Interrupt tolerant workloads such as batch/cron jobs, load testing, video transcoding, rendering, hadoop workloads are most suited for spot. Even if one/more spot instances get taken away, the same can be processed in another spot/RI/on-demand instance(s)

X-Post from cmpute.io blog

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