Netflix has open sourced its AWS cloud tool Janitor Monkey Photo by Flickr user ross_hawkes

Netflix Open Sources Janitor Monkey Tool that Cleans Up Unused AWS Cloud Resources

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Netflix has open sourced another tool that it uses to detect and clean up unused AWS cloud resources, according to a report by GigaOM on Friday.

The tool, called Janitor Monkey, is the latest in its Simian Army set of tools it uses for maintaining its AWS clouds. Netflix launched Chaos Monkey, its cloud infrastructure testing tool, in July 2012, which ensures cloud apps can tolerate random instance failures.

As cloud resources can be spun up instantly, it can be easy to forget to eliminate cloud resources that go unused.

“Perhaps you forgot to delete the cluster with the previous version of your application, or forgot to destroy the volume when you no longer needed the extra disk,” Netflix engineers said in a post explaining the need for tools like Janitor Monkey. “Taking snapshots is great for backups, but do you really need them from 12 months ago? It’s not just forgetfulness that can cause problems. API and network errors can cause your request to delete an unused volume to get lost.”

Since Netflix is one of AWS’ biggest users – it relies on AWS for 95 percent of its computation and storage needs, according to WSJ – internally it has developed several tools to keep its AWS cloud resources in check.

As GigaOM points out, the timing of the tool’s release is a bit ironic since it was only last week on Christmas Eve when Netflix users experienced outages after AWS EC2 downtime. 

As a cloud provider, customers that build and share tools that work to improve certain facets of a service is great. It creates loyal customers, and helps providers understand how their customers use their services.

Talk back: Have you developed tools to help detect unused cloud resources? If you run instances on AWS cloud would you try out this open source tool? Let us know in a comment.

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