When Clouds Stop Raining Discounts: Surviving the Drought

Thursday, 12 October, 2023 - 14:0014:20

Max Blaze, Duolingo


We seemed to be all set in terms of AWS cost optimization–we had just finished migrating our largest, most costly services to the less expensive Graviton architecture and our projected savings forecasts for the year were looking fantastic. That is until March, when drastic changes in the AWS Spot market overturned all of our underlying assumptions. Suddenly, our “cheaper” machines were costing more and most of our discounts completely disappeared by the end of April. The unthinkable had happened and we had no idea if it was temporary or the new normal.

This talk will explore the most likely underlying causes of the AWS Spot market instability, the tools and techniques we used to see the full view of its effects on discounts, and the major actions that we took to keep our infrastructure costs under control when faced with increasing uncertainty.

Max Blaze, Duolingo

Max is a Senior Staff Operations Engineer at Duolingo and is currently optimizing infrastructure for cost, stability, and compliance through standardization and automation. Before diving into the chaotic world of cloud computing, he managed application operations for multiple physical data centers in the healthcare sector. Max holds an MS and Certificate of Advanced Study in Telecommunications from the University of Pittsburgh, where he focused on network security and critical infrastructure.

@conference {292133,
author = {Max Blaze},
title = {When Clouds Stop Raining Discounts: Surviving the Drought},
year = {2023},
address = {Dublin},
publisher = {USENIX Association},
month = oct

Presentation Video