(Part 3) Reducing the Cost of Running a Personal k8s Cluster: Conclusion

(Part 3) Reducing the Cost of Running a Personal k8s Cluster: Conclusion

Overall impact

In parts one and two of this series, we sought to reduce our AWS costs by optimizing our computing, networking, and storage expenditures. Since this post is the final one in the series, let’s consider how we did in aggregate. Before any resource optimizations, we had the following bill:

master ec2 (1 m3.medium): (1 * 0.067 $/hour * 24 * 30) = 48.24
nodes ec2 (2 t2.medium): (2 * 0.0464 $/hour * 24 * 30) = 66.82
master ebs (1 64GB gp2): (1 * 64 * .1 $ per GB/month) = 6.40
nodes ebs (2 128GB gp2): (2 * 128 * .1 $ per GB/month) = 25.60
elb (1 classic) (1 * .25 $/hour * 24 * 30): 18.00
total: 165.06

After our resource optimizations, we have the following bill:

master ec2 (1 reserved instance m3.medium): ($33 per month) = 33.00
nodes ec2 (2 t2.medium): (2 * 0.0139 $/hour * 24 * 30) = 20.02
master ebs (1 30GB gp2): (1 * 30 * .1 $ per GB/month) = 3.00
nodes ebs (2 64GB gp2): (2 * 64 * .1 $ per GB/month) = 12.80
elb (1 classic) (1 * .25 $/hour * 24 * 30): 18.00
total: 86.82

In total, we save $78 a month. Our annual cost decreases from $1,980 to $1,041 for a savings of $938, or 48%! Not too bad at all!


Comparison to not using k8s

It’s interesting to compare these costs to what we would pay if we wanted to run multiple applications without using Kubernetes (i.e. just utilizing AWS primitives like EC2 instances, ELBs, etc.).

Our current personal-k8s roadmap includes at least three more applications (JupyterHub, NextCloud, GitLab) we want to run in addition to the already running blog. In addition, we will want to run ElasticSearch and Kibana for log aggregation and visualization, in addition to the already running Prometheus, Alertmanager, and Grafana. In total, there are eight distinct applications we either have deployed, or intend to deploy, over the next couple of months.

Let’s compare running these applications on Kubernetes vs running these applications on bare AWS primitives purely with respect to cost. Let’s assume we ran each application on t2.micro instances, paying $9.50 a month for each EC2 instance.1 For simplicities sake, let’s assume each node running an application has a 10GB EBS volume attached, which costs $1 per month for each EC2 instance. Finally, we’ll assume each node is assigned an ElasticIP, which has no cost provided the ElasticIP is attached to a node.

Overall, we have the following monthly costs:

application nodes (8 on-demand t2.micro): ($9.50 per month * 8) = $76.00
node storage (8 10GB EBS volumes): (.1 $ per GB/month * 10 * 8) = $8.00
total: $84.00

Our analysis above shows that once we commit to running multiple applications, creating a Kubernetes cluster is a cost-neutral decision compared to utilizing bare AWS primitives. And of course, running one’s own Kubernetes cluster has many other advantages with respect to gaining valuable experience, easier maintenance and deployment, and it just being fun :)

Retaining, and Extending, Cost Savings Over Time

We do not want this focus on minimizing our AWS bill to be a one time activity, and to help ensure it isn’t, we’ve put a couple different safeguards in place which will help us retain, and potentially even expand, our savings.

First, we’ve checked our Kops configuration into source control. It can be seen below as of the time of this post:

We can now track changes to our Kubernetes resources exactly the same as we track application changes. In addition, we have all the information we would need to recreate our Kubernetes cluster with all cost savings in place.

Additionally, we’ve created a recurring ticket to perform resource optimization on our Kubernetes cluster. We plan to tackle this ticket once a quarter, and we’ll share any findings in a blog post. The ticket suggests using the monitoring already in place to check things such as whether we can decrease the size of the master/nodes’ root volumes and whether we can decrease resource allocations for certain pods. This design document describes all of our guidelines to pay as little for our Kubernetes cluster as possible, while still retaining “production” level performance.

Finally, as we have additional capacity, we will explore additional high-impact cost-savings tools, and blog with any interesting findings. I’m particularly interested in further researching Cluster Autoscaling.


We’re done with our Reducing the Cost of Running a Personal k8s Cluster series (find the first post here). Thank you for following along with me and I hope these cost savings made running your own k8s cluster slightly more feasible!


1. The t2.micro offers 1 CPU and 1 GB of memory. Currently, we haven’t allocated any of our Kubernetes applications more than .5 CPU and 500MB of memory, so we are safe assuming we can use t2.micro instances.

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