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AWS Savings Plans Vs. Reserved Instances: Which One to Choose

A decade after launching a new pricing model “Reserved Instances” in 2009, Amazon Web Services (AWS) launched AWS Savings Plans in 2019 as a more flexible alternative to RIs. AWS Savings Plans are not to replace Reserved Instances — they are complementary. Ever since Amazon Savings Plansa flexible pricing model with on-demand prices, companies have been able to better manage their cloud infrastructure while scaling efficiently. Understanding what options are best for you can significantly lower your costs.

In this article we will help you to understand what AWS Savings plans are, what Reserved Instances are, what are advantages of both and the differences between AWS Savings plan and Reserved Instances as well as some practical use cases to help you to decide what option will be best for you.

Understanding AWS Savings Plans

Amazon Savings Plans are EC2 pricing models that provide discounted rates on cloud resources when committed to using them for one or three years. Instead of purchasing specific instances, you commit to using On-Demand Instances at a discount price, which can be up to 72% off the regular On-Demand rate. This commitment results in significant savings.

To effectively use AWS Savings Plans for cost optimization on AWS, accurate forecasting is essential. Without the ability to predict your resource usage, committing in advance could lead to over committing or under committing, potentially resulting in higher costs or resource shortages.

Advantages of AWS Savings Plans

Flexibility with regions

RIs only apply to the region they were purchased in and cannot be changed, but with AWS Savings Plans are flexible as you can switch regions.

Automated coverage

Savings plans automatically adapt themselves to any changes in the instance, providing users automated coverage. Where Reserved Instances need continuous monitoring to ensure they are always applied.

Savings for serverless

AWS Savings Plans provide discounts on EC2 as well as Fargate, enabling users to make the most of your serverless containers.

Less management overhead

AWS users can sell unused Reserved Instances (RIs) or exchange Convertible RIs. However, Amazon Savings Plans provide greater flexibility without unnecessary complexity of purchasing, making them a better option

Types of Amazon Saving Plans

AWS offers three types of Savings Plans: Compute, EC2, and SageMaker. 

1. Compute Savings Plans

    AWS Compute Savings Plans are the most flexible commitment option. They allow users to apply usage across Amazon EC2, AWS Lambda, and AWS Fargate. 

    2. EC2 Instance Savings Plans

      Amazon EC2 Instance Savings Plans offers the lowest prices, with savings up to 72%.You need to commit to a specific region and instance family, though you can change instance size, Operating system, and tenancy.

      3. SageMaker Savings Plans

        Amazon SageMaker Savings Plans can be applied to any Machine learning instance or size, across any region, without manual modifications required. If you have a consistent amount of Amazon SageMaker instance usage and use multiple SageMaker components like instance family, region to change over time.

        Understanding AWS Reserved Instances

        AWS Reserved Instances (RIs) are also other pricing models that provide more discounts to users who commit to using AWS resources in advance. According to Amazon, using Reserved Instances can save an amount to 75% compared to on-demand pricing.

        With AWS Reserved Instances, you have to commit to a specific EC2 instance type family, generation, operating system, region, and term tenure. 

        Advantages of AWS Reserved Instances

        Capacity reservation

        AWS RIs ensure you have capacity when you need it, which is particularly useful for applications with steady-state usage or for critical workloads.

        Higher discounts

        AWS Reserved Instances offer deep discounts compared to On-Demand pricing, providing cost savings of up to 75%.

        Broader coverage

        Reserved Instances can be applied across multiple regions offering greater flexibility and resiliency.

        Types Of Reserved Instances

        1. Standard Reserved Instances

          AWS Standard Reserved Instances offers more rigid discounts. It allows users to modify the availability zone, size, and network type. It can be sold in the Reserved Instance Marketplaces.

          2. Convertible Reserved Instances

            Amazon Convertible RIs allow you to convert a researched instance with a different configuration. And it allows users to change the instance family, OS, tenancy, and payment type if the target reserved instance is of equal or greater value.

            Key differences between Savings Plans and Reserved Instances

            AWS Savings Plans and Reserved Instances can both offer significant discounts compared to on-demand pricing, but which option is best for your business. It depends on your specific needs and workload.

            Understanding the differences between Savings Plans and Reserved Instances is an important  step to choose between the two. 

            Let’s take a look at how these pricing models compare across several key considerations:

            1. Pricing models and payment options

              SPs and RIs both provide similar payment options. With either plan, you’ll have the option to pay all-upfront, partial-upfront, or no-upfront—and in both cases, larger upfront payments lead to higher discounts.

              When it comes to pricing, the savings offered by AWS Savings Plans apply to a wider range of AWS compute types. Where, Reserved Instances require you to commit to specific instance attributes for EC2 only.

              2. Flexibility and instance coverage

                Savings Plans apply discounts automatically to any matching compute usage depending on your commitment, offering great resource flexibility without requiring any additional action.

                On the other hand, Reserved Instances apply discounts to specific instance attributes selected at the time of purchase. 

                3. Commitment growth restrictions

                  Savings Plan growth requires new full-term USD per hour commitments, and coverage cannot be grown on the original expiration date.

                  Standard Reserved Instances have commitment growth restrictions that make it necessary to purchase additional RIs, either full-term (EC2 Console) or partial-term (RI Marketplace) if your usage exceeds the original commitment.

                  Convertible Reserved Instances allow for commitment growth through the Convertible RI exchange process on the original expiration date, allowing growth without new, long-term commitments.

                  4. Capacity reservation and instance utilization

                    A Capacity Reservation ensures that you’ll be able to launch specific instances within the availability zone. With Savings Plans, there’s no guarantee that the resources that you’ve committed will always be available exactly when and where you need them.

                    In contrast Reserved Instances offer capacity reservations, assuring the availability of RIs whenever you need them. The capacity reservation is available when Standard Reserved Instances are purchased at the zonal level only.

                    The dedicated capacity provided by Standard RIs makes them a better choice for applications with specific performance requirements. Convertible RIs do not provide capacity reservations. On-Demand Capacity Reservations can be purchased independently of RIs or Savings Plans if you need to ensure access to specific instances or locations.

                    5. Discounts offered

                      Amazon Savings Plans and Reserved Instances offer similar discounts based on the different purchases. Standard RIs and EC2 Instance Savings Plans provide similar discounts as they are each very particular to the usage to which they will apply. 

                      Convertible RIs and Compute Savings Plans offer changing coverage over the term, offering lower savings than their counterparts.

                      When Use AWS Savings Plans?

                      Savings Plans are flexible and considered ideal for organizations and systems prone to usage changes. They are ideal when:

                      • You want to save on compute services,  not on database usage.
                      • You expect that your usage requirements will fluctuate during the contract period.
                      • You need a setup that requires automatic adaptation to changes in your infrastructure without constant, manual monitoring.
                      • You are looking for discounts for serverless use cases with AWS Fargate and SageMaker applications.
                      • Your Amazon EC2, Fargate, and Labda usage fluctuate ‌over short periods, such as from season to season.

                      When Use AWS Reserved Instances?

                      In Reserved Instances Reservations are non-cancelable. So, Choose RIs when:

                      • You plan to use them throughout the contract period, or at least 75% of the time.
                      • You use applications that require constant power for the better part of one to three years at a time.
                      • You have to extend discounted instances for databases (Amazon RDS) and compute (Amazon EC2) uses.
                      • You have a reasonable consistency in usage pattern over an extended period.

                      Choose SupportFly for Managed AWS Services 

                      For further, optimize your AWS Infrastructure with us and enhance your cost optimization efforts, leveraging professional AWS Management Services like AWS Cost Explorer, AWS Trusted Advisor, the AWS Management Console, and AWS CloudFormation can provide valuable insights and automation capabilities, ensuring you maximize the benefits of your chosen pricing model.


                      Both AWS Savings Plans and Reserved Instances need meticulous planning. Nevertheless, it makes sense to conclude that both plans have benefits with similar discounts, different infrastructural management, and different use cases. While RIs offer higher discounts, the Savings Plans are easier to manage. Using one service doesn’t necessarily restrict you from using the other. You can use both services simultaneously.

                      We offer Professional AWS Management Services that can be incredibly beneficial for you. These services help you to manage and monitor your AWS environment effectively, ensuring you make the most of your Savings Plans or Reserved Instances. Feel free to reach us for more details.