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The AWS Managed NAT Gateway is Disagreeable and Not Really helpful

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I’ve given a lot grief to the AWS Managed NAT Gateway over the previous few years that if I have been to move all of that grief by means of one of many gateways themselves it will bankrupt my firm. It occurred to me that whereas I’ve talked about my issues with the service in bits and items in all places (learn as: on Twitter, and incoherently over drinks in Seattle), I’ve by no means sat down and laid out my issues with it in a single place. It’s undoubtedly time to repair that.

Earlier than NAT Gateway, a ache within the butt

Let’s begin firstly: Once you arrange a subnet inside an AWS Digital Personal Cloud (VPC), you might have the choice to route its site visitors to an web gateway. For those who do that, it’s what’s generally known as a public subnet. For those who don’t, it’s generally known as a personal subnet. Nodes in that non-public subnet should still want to speak to issues outdoors of that subnet. To permit this, you used to need to construct and run your individual NAT (community deal with translation) situations. This was a colossal ache within the butt. It required quite a lot of nuanced configuration, and these situations have been successfully single factors of failure for a complete subnet; utilizing auto-scaling teams or load balancers to make it extra obtainable was obnoxious.

Then in 2015, AWS launched a Managed NAT Gateway service, and It. Was. AWESOME. Abruptly you didn’t have to leap by means of all of those hoops to run one thing delicate and complex your self; you clicked a button within the console or added a line of CloudFormation and it simply labored. We rapidly entered a spot the place the one individuals who ran their very own NAT situations have been both fossils from an earlier time or of us with very particular wants.

However there was an issue.

Shock, you’ve acquired charges

The Managed NAT Gateway expenses a payment for each hour that it’s operating. That’s 4.5 cents per hour within the tier 1 areas. For big or enterprise prospects, that’s comfortably in “no one cares” territory. The difficulty with that is an terrible lot of tutorials arrange personal subnets as a matter after all, and it’s not instantly apparent {that a} Managed NAT Gateway is included. Additional, there is no such thing as a free tier for this service. Ergo, you might have a pupil learner firing up a free tier account and out of the blue getting slapped with a Shock Payment when the month-to-month invoice hits. It’s unhealthy enterprise, and leaves a really bitter style of AWS when that’s your first encounter with its billing system.

If this have been its solely billing dimension, I’d be aggravated however would have gotten over it a few years in the past. That is annoying, nevertheless it suits into my bigger please repair the AWS free tier argument.

The larger downside is that AWS additionally expenses 4.5 cents per gigabyte handed by means of the gateway as a “knowledge processing payment” that’s utterly separate from any knowledge switch charges assessed. And that’s the place the factor melts down.

Fastened switch charges add up quick

Recall that in us-east-1 (or different tier 1 areas) shifting knowledge between availability zones inside a area in addition to between some areas prices 2 cents per gigabyte. Sending that knowledge to the web prices 9 cents per gigabyte. Storing that knowledge in S3 for a month prices 2.3 cents per gigabyte. Sending that knowledge to a satellite tv for pc in orbit through Floor Station prices I do not know how a lot — I simply suppose it’s extremely nifty that this can be a actual factor that you are able to do and never one thing from a sci-fi novel.

However the Managed NAT Gateway knowledge switch payment stays fastened at 4.5 cents, with no volume-based worth breaks. And it drives me up a wall as a result of it’s simply so egregious when you hit nontrivial knowledge switch volumes.

How the dialog goes (unpleasantly)

Once I’m a shopper’s AWS invoice and see vital Managed NAT Gateway knowledge processing charges, I get a sinking feeling in my intestine as a result of I do know that the shopper shouldn’t be going to be pleased with what I’ve discovered. There are just a few ways in which dialog performs out, and none of them are nice; the shopper invariably will get a harsh introduction to the details of life as they uncover simply how totally they’re being fleeced.

“We’re placing a petabyte of knowledge by means of {that a} month, however you don’t perceive: We’ve gotta get that knowledge to and from S3.” I get it; I’m not suggesting you alter your knowledge movement! However in the event you add a (utterly free) S3 gateway endpoint to your personal subnet, out of the blue that petabyte of site visitors to and from S3 stops costing you $45,000 a month and turns into completely free. The truth that this isn’t arrange by default is a rant for one more time.

“We have to transfer a petabyte a month to and from the web, and we are able to’t transfer the EC2 situations doing that right into a public subnet resulting from Compliance.” I’m not one to argue with compliance necessities, I guarantee you! However in a situation like this, organising your individual Managed NAT situations and operating them is a transparent win. Sure, it’s finicky and annoying! Sure, it will increase your crew’s operational toil. However how a lot does it price you to place that accountability onto an present crew or rent a third-party consulting firm (not us!) whose sole job is to run a set of NAT situations for you? If the reply is “lower than $495,000 a 12 months” (and it had damned effectively higher be!) then you definately’re popping out forward right here.

“Wait, you’re telling me that this one change simply paid for our whole consulting engagement with The Duckbill Group?” Sure! Many occasions over! And I promise you, this brings me no pleasure by any means. This can be a nice instance of why we solely ever cost a hard and fast payment for our cost-optimization tasks. Are you able to think about how royally pissed off a shopper could be at having to pay a proportion of their Managed NAT Gateway expenses to us through some type of “we cost you a portion of the financial savings” price mannequin? They’d be proper to be upset — this isn’t high-value undifferentiated work, it’s declaring a stick that’s used to smack an terrible lot of consumers.

It’s not the service, it’s the charges

My problem shouldn’t be that the service is unhealthy; removed from it! That is precisely what I would like AWS to be constructing: companies that cut back toil and take away undifferentiated heavy lifting that each firm has to do themselves. Working your individual NAT situations is a horrible observe that I try to keep away from! It’s fixing a worldwide downside domestically, and if we’ve gotta try this why are we even utilizing cloud suppliers within the first place?

No, my problem is solely across the pricing of the service at each ends. In isolation, a Managed NAT Gateway doesn’t do something! I can’t spin up Managed NAT Gateways to serve internet site visitors, or mine bitcoin, or have it’s misused as a database. For those who gave me a magic wand, I’d both make the service fully free or supply a beneficiant free tier and wipe the information processing charges fully.

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