In this DevOps Chat, find out how the developers of Wolfpack (wolfpack.run) are saving over 50 percent in cloud costs by using ParkMyCloud’s cloud management platform.
Though the cloud offers many benefits to app developers and others, controlling the costs can sometimes elude organizations big and small. Cloud sprawl can quickly lead to large cloud bills. In this chat, we speak with Jonathan Chashper, CEO of Wolfpack, about how his company got a handle on the cloud and is spending less than 50 percent of what it was paying before.
As usual, the streaming audio of our conversation is below, followed by the transcript of our conversation.
Chris Parlette is the Director of Cloud Solutions at ParkMyCloud. Chris helps customers reduce their cloud waste and manage their hybrid infrastructures by drawing on his years of experience working at various software startups. From SaaS to on-prem, virtualization to cloud, monitoring tools to cloud management platforms, and small businesses to large enterprises, Chris has seen it all and loves helping drive improvements to IT management.
Alan Shimel: Hey, everyone, it’s Alan Shimel of DevOps.com, and we’re here for another DevOps Chat. Today’s chat is actually a great behind-the-scenes look at ParkMyCloud and how an app provider named WolfPack is using Park My Cloud to really kinda get a handle on their cloud costs, their cloud usage and optimizing the cloud for their applications.
That being said, let me introduce you to our guest for today’s podcast. Our first guest is the CEO and founder of WolfPack, and his name is Jonathan Chashper. Jonathan, welcome to DevOps Chat.
Jonathan Chashper: Thank you, Alan. Thank you for having me.
Shimel: Thank you. And then our second guest is from ParkMyCloud, it’s Chris Parlette, and Chris, I hope I don’t mess up the title, but it’s director of Cloud Solutions?
Chris Parlette: Correct, yes. And thanks, Alan, for having us—appreciate being here.
Shimel: Not a problem. So, guys, this is gonna be a fun one, I think. Jonathan, why don’t you give our audience a little background—what exactly is this WolfPack app?
Chashper: Sure. So, WolfPack, we are—you can look at us as a connected vehicle technology focusing specifically on helping individuals move together. Think about how much fun it is to move as a group. Imagine you are, you know, maybe several families moving in a few cars. It’s a lot of fun, but there are two major problems—one, keeping everybody together, making sure people don’t get separated, don’t get lost. And the second one is actually communicating with each other while traveling and doing it safely.
Now imagine you are now doing it on model cycles, which is the first niche we’re focusing on. So, we’re solving those two problems with WolfPack, and by the way, people can take a look at WolfPack.run-R-U-N-to see how it works. But generally, what we do is, we provide, with a turn-by-turn navigation, to every one of the people driving or riding, while providing a radar showing the location of everybody else.
So, we actually make sure that everybody gets there without being killed, without being lost, without getting into a ditch, and making the experience much less stressful, and much more fun.
Shimel: And that’s a good thing. But Jonathan, well, you know, WolfPack represents sort of this new—it’s not really new. I’ve seen them now for a couple years, but I call them these instant group type of applications where you can create a group on the fly and that group can have two people or 200 people or more, right? And this group then does something. In the case of WolfPack, you know, they’re on a run or a trip of some sort, and you have Google Maps built into it or underlying it and, you know, all of these things, and they’re great.
The problem is, as you probably are well aware, is you never know from moment to moment, you know, what your load is gonna be, right? How many groups, how big a group, you know, what’s going on?
And so, in resource planning, that can be a problem. Talk to me—
Shimel: —yep. Talk to us a little bit about what you’re doing with ParkMyCloud and how that’s helping you.
Chashper: Mm-hmm. Yeah, so you’re absolutely correct. What you said at the beginning, it’s true. We can—our users can immediately generate groups, it can be, they can generate any number of groups. It can generate—any group can have any number of people. They can plan a ride which can be as short as 10 miles or as long as 1,000 miles, so you’re absolutely right.
And so, when we’re building the system, obviously, it’s a cloud based system. We are on top of AWS. What’s important for us is that the development costs, being a startup, is being-you know, kept to the minimum. And so, what we did, we actually looked into ParkMyCloud, and with ParkMyCloud, we got to the point that we control our development costs very, very tightly. Generally speaking, when you’re using a server in the cloud, as long as you don’t turn it off, it still works and you’re still being billed for it. And if your development teams go home-say, they work 9 to 7 every day, they go home at 7. If the servers are off, you’re still paying for them.
So, what we did with ParkMyCloud, we actually manage the up time of those servers, so we only pay for the time we’re actually using those servers for our development for our staging.
The other good thing we’re having is that we actually have quite good visibility. True—a nice supporting feature, which I think is pretty new, where we can see very, very quickly, you know, when is our load high, what is actually being used, what is not being used, if anything needs to shut down. So, we can manage that very, very easily. And specifically, on the park management, it’s almost a file and forget. Once you set it up once, you never need to go back to it, and it just does it for you.
Shimel: Got it. So, Jonathan, let me just be clear, I want to make sure we’re talking apples to apples. So, when you say, you know, you’re not using the server overnight or something like that, are you saying that, with ParkMyCloud, you can schedule your instances to close? So, in other words, I’m only gonna use this instance from 9 to 5, and at 5:00, retire that instance, close it out, don’t keep it on my billing account, and when I start up again tomorrow at 9, I’ll start a new instance with that same configuration and kind of pick up where I left off, or is it something else?
Chashper: So, first, we need to understand that you can use ParkMyCloud on your non-production instances. Production instances obviously need to be up 24/7, so you don’t want to shut them down.
Shimel: Yeah, you’re right—I should have said that. [Laughter] No one wants to shut down their production.
Chashper: Yes. So, what I was referring to, I was talking about our development and staging nonproduction systems.
Chashper: Yeah, so that’s for that.
Shimel: But are you actually—I guess what I’m asking, are you retiring those instances and firing up new ones the next day, or is it—
Chashper: Oh, this is—yeah, so this is done automatically for us. That’s the beautiful thing about ParkMyCloud. We actually, once you set up the parking schedule, it will shut down the server, say, 5 p.m. today, and it will turn it on back tomorrow morning, say, 9 a.m. We don’t need to do anything. This is done for us automatically, and so you know, where the developers come back into the office, as far as they’re concerned, nothing changed, they just keep working.
Shimel: That’s fantastic. Chris, I just want to confirm with you—those instances are actually, you know, it’s sort of like immutable infrastructure, right? Those instances are retired, done, and then re-fired up the next day?
Parlette: Yeah, so what this is—and it’s not terminating the instances, it’s actually just stopping them and then turning the same ones back on. And the nice thing is about that, is that now, you know, as people are working on these servers, you know, if you haven’t fully gone with data, you know, not being stored on those servers, you know, as you’re working on these same servers over and over and over again, you know, we stop them and then start them right back up again. So, even if people like your finance department or your QA department maybe have some things, you know, spun up, we can actually turn them off to save on the CPU and memory costs, and then we just turn them back on again.
Shimel: I got it. Okay, because I was gonna say, you know, I mean, the immutable infrastructure angle is great, but in this sort of circumstance, it’s not just a configuration of the server, it was the state of the data that you were working on, and how the heck would you re-create that every morning? [Laughter] But that explains it—got it.
So, Jonathan, you know, so ParkMyCloud is making you guys a lot more efficient here in the cloud and your use of cloud resources. Have you been able to quantify a percentage savings or anything like that?
Chashper: Oh, absolutely—most definitely. If I want to be, you know, conservative, I would probably say that we’re saving around 55 [percent]to 60 percent.
Chashper: At least. Frankly, I think we probably save close to 70 percent. We’re really very tight. We really manage to do that in a very tight manner.
Shimel: So, beyond just closing down and firing up the instances the next day, what are some of the other things you’re doing with ParkMyCloud?
Chashper: Oh, so—well, for us, the first thing is reporting and notification. If something happens, we get notified, we can actually control what we get to be notified about. So, then we’ll get notification about maybe a server that needs to be shut down or something like that.
Reporting is very important to us so you can see your usage, you can see what is up and what is down.
Shimel: Got it.
Chashper: One of the cool things we just started using is actually a mobile app. So, there is a mobile app on iOS for ParkMyCloud. People can download it at the iOS store. And it actually happened with me, I was at dinner, and we—my guys had to stay a little later, and we had to, what we call, snooze one of the parking, you know, schedules, and I just did that through the mobile app, I didn’t even have to go online.
Shimel: Fantastic. Very cool. So, guys—look, 50 percent or better savings, all these other benefits is certainly nothing to sneeze at. I think anyone would jump at it.
But, Chris, let’s dive in with you now a little bit, if we can. You know, we have an audience here of DevOps sort of folks from all over the world, right, who would love to save 50 percent on their cloud bill. How is ParkMyCloud working with these DevOps engineers and DevOps teams to realize those kinds of savings and efficiencies.
Parlette: Sure, yeah. So, we work, you know, plug into a lot of DevOps processes and toolkits straightaway. I mean, that’s something that we do internally, and then, you know, we certainly have all of our customers, from large enterprises down to small startups, all doing this same kind of thing.
And so, there’s a few different ways to do that. One of the big things about DevOps is automation, and so, we have a full policy engine so you can set up the policies to look at tags, to look at locations to different regions that these servers were in, naming schemes—all these different kind of factors, and you can automatically apply schedules and assign to teams and decide on different actions to take based on these policies for any new instances that you spun up. So, that’s one automated way.
We also have a full API, so you could plug into DevOps tools like Atlassian, Bamboo or Jenkins so that these tools can kind of reach into our API, temporarily override schedules, change schedules—all this as a part of an automated thing.
One of the other things about, you know, DevOps—not just automation, but also just thinking whole business, kind of a holistic approach to this thing—and so, we also have a full, a very easy to use UI. So, if your users are, maybe are a little less technical or you don’t want them to necessarily have direct access to a database console or Azure or Google consoles, this can kind of be sort of a proxy for that console so that other users can come in and manage their end servers. They don’t have to ask IT to turn things on for them. They can kinda manage their own servers and do all this, but you can decide who has access to what through this approach.
So, there’s a couple different ways we plug into these teams and these processes so that users can get their best bang for their buck.
Shimel: Got it, got it, got it. Now, so, Chris, when you talk about plugging into things like Bamboo or Jenkins, what you’re really—I mean, I just wanna make sure I’m clear. You can build sort of the ParkMyCloud—not sort of, but you can build the ParkMyCloud policies right into your CI/CD pipeline. Is that what you’re saying?
Parlette: Yes, so if you do things like using tags, especially as instances are spun up or spun down, a lot of people say, you know, “Hey, I put a million tags on every instance.” And so, that’s what the ParkMyCloud policies can read off those tags and kinda decide on the actions based on those tags.
And then, as far as things like—you know, specifically, if we were to talk about Jenkins or some other build processes, you know, you can have these environments built out and shut down. And then Jenkins, at the beginning of some sort of build process, can call into ParkMyCloud and say, “Hey, I need these servers up, and so I wanna override these schedules.” Spin ’em up, the servers are up, it does all it needs to do, and at the end, it just either shuts them down or, if you don’t shut them down, then basically, if you only did an override, let’s say, for two hours? At the end of the two hours, we’ll revert back to our original schedule, so that way you don’t have to remember to turn the lights out when you leave the room, right? So, we actually can shut things down for you.
Shimel: Excellent. And Chris, give me an idea of—so, when you guys are engaged, I mean, with that kind of API, with that kind of integration into the DevOps toolset, you’re probably getting a decent view of how DevOps teams are using ParkMyCloud. And you’ve given us some examples, here.
Are there any—I guess what I’m trying to ask, are there any special things that the DevOps people are doing that perhaps waterfall or other types of technologies are not doing? Is there commonality? Is it very easy to say, “Oh, these guys must be doing DevOps, because here’s, you know, what they’re doing?” Have you noticed any of that?
Chashper: Alan, before Chris answers, maybe I can jump in and give a quick lead-in to this.
Chashper: Sorry, Chris—hope you don’t mind.
Chashper: Actually, one of the things I wanted to say is that we don’t have DevOps people at all, and one of the reasons we’re using ParkMyCloud is because we’re actually—we’re not DevOps people. We don’t know what needs to be done. We don’t speak, you know, Chef or any one of those guys.
So—but the fact that we could actually use ParkMyCloud and then the user interface they provided us with, the web client, at least it did for us, went away, and everything is handled at that level. So, for us, that was a big, big move forward.
Shimel: Yeah, no—and that actually is a great point, Jonathan. And Chris, I’m sorry we hijacked you here for a second.
Parlette: No problem.
Shimel: But the problem is, in today’s market, frankly, hiring people who have Chef or Puppet or Jenkins or, you know, DevOps skills sets is (a) hard to find, and (b) very expensive, right? And so, if you can deliver benefits like 50 percent savings on cloud usage or allowing some automation like this, it certainly is a lot easier. I don’t know of any engineering team that wouldn’t like that.
But, you know, Chris, what do you see? I mean, are most of the people using the UI, or are they just you know, kinda going to APIs and stuff like that?
Parlette: Yeah, and you know, as we get into larger customers, you know, it definitely is a mix of the UI and the API. The other change that we see, the mindset shift that we see from people is, especially as they’re moving from on-prem to cloud, a lot of people, when they’re used to—a lot of people, when they’re coming from a [Dog barks].
Shimel: Hey, Jonathan, I think Chris might have shut off there for a second. Chris, you there?
Parlette: Here we go. I’m back—I’m back. So, one of the things that, you know, as people are moving from on-prem to cloud, you get a lot of people who are used to leaving things on 24/7, because you know, on-prem, as things are left—you know, if you spin things up, it’s not an additional cost, really, to leave them on 24/7.
And so, in this shift to the cloud, they have this shift of mindset where, if they’re being charged by the hour or it’s something that, you know, every hour that it’s left on is additional cost.
Parlette: And so, when people are used to leaving things on 24/7, now the shift we have with people using ParkMyCloud, especially in an automated way, is to leave things off 24/7 and then kind of spin them up on demand. And so, that’s really where I think, you know, Jonathan and his team use that a lot, where things can be off, you know, turn on a schedule, but also just turn on on demand so, as the users have access to the UI and the API, they can turn things on on demand, as opposed to having to turn things off on demand.
Shimel: Fantastic. Well, guys, you know, as I told you off mic, the time here goes really quick. [Laughter] We’ve already been on 18 minutes, beyond the 15 minutes I told you we would do, so we’re gonna need to wrap this one up right here. But first of all, Jonathan Chashper, CEO, Founder of WolfPack, it’s WolfPack.run is the URL, correct?
Chashper: Yes, absolutely—thank you.
Shimel: Thank you. Thank you for sharing with us today and giving us a little peek behind the kimono of how you guys are using ParkMyCloud. Continued success for any of our motorcycle riding friends or any group out there who—you know, I encourage you to check WolfPack out, it’s a pretty cool app.
And Chris, thanks so much for sharing a little bit more, you know, a little behind-the-scenes look and a little bit more of a peek at, you know, ParkMyCloud and how it’s helping companies. Thanks for being on today’s DevOps Chat.
Parlette: Yeah, Alan. Thanks for having me. I really appreciate it.
Chashper: Alan—thank you very, very much. It was a pleasure.
Shimel: Thank you, guys. You know what? We’re recording this right before Thanksgiving—have a happy holiday. Happy holidays to everyone listening! You’re probably listening to this after Thanksgiving, but it’s the start of the holiday season, so happy holidays, everyone.
This is Alan Shimel for DevOps.com and DevOps Chat. Hope to see you soon on another chat, and have a great day.