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I've been wondering why none of the serverless providers have offered the ability to get better pricing if I let them control when my timed functions run. For example, I tell them that these functions are daily/monthly/whatever tasks and I don't care when they run as long as they run at least once during that time period. They can run my functions when server usage is low. They get better compute utilization and save money (hopefully passing some of those savings onto me).

Like most things, this sounds good in practice but fails in reality. There are many AWS services that started with this question (Spot instances for one). But what people want to do with them is always something else when push comes to shove.

I've always felt there were a lot of background tasks that just need to be done but have no time sensitivity that could fit this model, but in reality it hasn't ever been something you can generalize to a point that it's worth building it out. Still haven't given up on the idea though :).

You can do this on AWS with spot pricing and other tools as described by other comments replies to your comment. But when does it work?

It can really be great for experiments by a small startup or small, impoverished research group.

If you have customers expecting your results in a timely fashion that won’t work at all. But you can get them to pay for your computer time, so it’s no big deal.

For a small startup that hasn’t been funded yet it can be a lifesaver (let me set up this experiment and get some data — ok, now I can work on this other important thing until the response comes back, perhaps tomorrow). I used to work in the life sciences where experiments had long latency (spend all day preparing samples, stick them on the instrument and let it run all night, then spend a day or two on the data). It forced me to think differently about my strategy, which has been invaluable long term (I end up doing fewer, better experiments even when. It under such cost pressure). I suspect the folks who had to submit a card deck had the same benefits.

You can with AWS Batch + Spot instances, plus Cloudwatch if you want to submit jobs on a regular basis. You can even tell Batch to only run the job when the Spot price is at least X% lower than the regular price.

I’m guessing there’s just not much of a market for that kind of usage pattern. It’s not really worth it to offer a discount of the compute costs for users who want to consume this way because they are so few. Most people want on demand or at regularly scheduled times, to such a degree that the overhead of managing some weaker time range guarantees outweighs any minor logistical optimization it could allow you to perform.

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