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How to view AWS reserved instance savings with custom dashboards

Reserved instances (RIs) are coupons you can purchase from AWS for specific services. I’ll be focusing on EC2 compute instances in this post. These coupons are promises to AWS committing you to pay for either 1 or 3 years in return receiving a discounted price on your compute instances.  

There is a lot more to RIs than this brief introduction entails. But I’ll save that for another article. This post is going to detail how you can create a custom dashboard where you can easily track your RI spend against your on-demand compute instance spend and quickly view your savings after purchasing RIs.  

This can be accomplished in only four steps: 

  1. Create a new custom dashboard 
  2. Add a filter 
  3. Add a line chart 
  4. Add a table 

1. Create a New Custom Dashboard 

When you open Optima, you’re directed to the Default Dashboard. You’re able to click on “Default” to access other dashboards, including the ability to create your own.  




Click “New Dashboard” and choose “Create New.” You must name your new dashboard and can add a description of the purpose of the dashboard. You also will be prompted to choose a layout. I normally choose “Overview,” as it gives you the most flexibility for the arrangement of reports in the dashboard. Finally, click “Save.” You have a custom dashboard template to view everything you need 

2. Add a Filter

When creating a custom dashboard, I find it best to add a filter first. This allows you to attach the filter to all other reports you add to the dashboard, ensuring the reports are showing only the information you want.

In your new custom dashboard, you’ll see the “Add Report” button in the upper right corner. Click that button and then choose where on the dashboard you want to add the widget. In this example, I chose to add the filter to the top row.




You will need to add a name to the report. Then, under “Report Type,” select “Filters.” The option also is available to add a description where you can explain the purpose of the report You don’t need to fill out anything else to add a filter. When finished, click “Add” in the bottom right of the screen to add the filter to your dashboard.

From the dashboard, you can set the filter to the specific dimensions you want. Click the “Add a dimension...” dropdown and select “Service.” For the EC2 compute instances, select “AmazonEC2” in the filter and add the dimension “Resource Type.” In the Resource Type filter, select “Reserved Instance Purchase” and “Compute Instance.” Your filter is now ready to winnow your data so that everything in the report will focus only on RI and on-demand compute instance costs.



3. Add a Line Chart

Start by clicking “Add Report.” I chose to place this chart on the top row to the right of the filter. For “Report Type,” select “Line Chart.” Include a name for the chart and fill out a description if you want. Now change the “Dimension” value from “Inline” to “Custom Value.” A new dropdown will appear below in which you will select “Resource Type.”

Finally, for “Report filters,”, click the dropdown and at the bottom. There, you will see “Link the value to another report in the dashboard.” The filter you created in the previous step should be listed under there. Select that filter to link it to this line chart. See the screen grab below to confirm your chart settings match what is in the image before clicking “Add.”



4. Add a Table

The final piece to tie the dashboard together is a table. The table will show more in-depth details about your RI and on-demand spend, such as which instance types you’re spending the most money on in either category.

As with the previous two reports, click the “Add Report” button. This time add this report on the line below the previous two tools. Again, name your report and add a description if you wish. For the “Report Type,” select “Table.”

In the “Group by” dropdown, select “Custom Value.” A plus symbol will appear below the dropdown. Here is where you have the freedom to choose what details are important for you to see. The order you pick the details will alter the data as the table acts like a pivot table. As an example, I selected Resource Type, Cloud Vendor Account Name, Region, and Instance Type. 

Below are the reasons for this type of metric organization:

  1. Resource Type – This metric first will sort the data under two buckets: Compute Instance and Reserved Instance Purchase which are the two things we primarily care about for this dashboard.
  2. Cloud Vender Account Name – By having this as the second metric, you can quickly track which accounts are spending the most on RIs and which accounts you should consider targeting for RI purchases.
  3. Region – RIs cannot be moved between regions. This grouping can help you easily see which regions are being heavily covered by RIs and which regions should be targeted when purchasing new RIs.
  4. Instance Type – This will allow you to see which instance types you’re spending the most money on for both RIs and on-demand costs, allowing you to determine which regions should be targeted with your next RI purchase.

Finally, you need to connect in the filter, which you can select under “Report filters,” and then save the report.




Congratulations on taking the first step towards tracking your reserved instance journey! By using this dashboard, you can quickly view RI spend versus on-demand compute instance spend in a graphical format. And then you can use the table to view spending specifics. The table can also be exported for further analysis. Now you’re ready to purchase RIs and begin tracking savings!




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