The past couple of months at AWS have been consumed with “OP1.”

You would be forgiven for thinking this is some form of disease. But because Amazon is a beautiful bespoke place with a language all its own, this is what they call their annual planning cycle. Big Ideas are proposed from teams and, in turn, filter upwards for consideration.

This effectively determines what the various teams will be doing for the next year or so. Very often, these are done in the form of imaginary press releases and attendant FAQs and customer quotes; they then “work backwards” from the press release to build the service.

The quotes are imaginary, the timelines not firm, and the details of a service can easily change significantly between the original proposal and what eventually gets launched to customers.

Here at The Duckbill Group, we have tapped our notorious Spite Budget to fund a crack squad of commandos to seize one of these Big Ideas from a high-ranking executive’s desk.

In the spirit of building community, I share it with you now:

AWS Elastic Beanstalker

1. Purpose

The purpose of this document is to:

  1. Describe challenges AWS customers face with the ever-growing complexity of AWS Billing, and
  2. Propose a new opt-in billing model that renders customer billing into something more easily grasped by humans whose first language isn’t “Mathematics.”

2. Press Release – August 31, 2021 – Seattle, WA

Today, Amazon Web Services, Inc. (AWS), an company (NASDAQ: AMZN), announced the availability of AWS Elastic Beanstalker, an AWS opt-in billing model that acts as an overlay atop of various other AWS services—specifically their bills. To learn more, visit

Historically, AWS billing for various services has been a scattershot effort that makes intuitive understanding of what a given architecture will cost virtually impossible. The only workable method was the “suck-it-and-see” approach, named after the method once used to test whether a power cable was live.

Similarly, the only viable way to determine the cost of various AWS services was to run them and see what the billing system says after a somewhat lengthy delay. Elastic Beanstalker changes all of this.

“In addition to providing a radically simpler and more easily understood billing model, Elastic Beanstalker’s alternative billing model is far easier to predict before deploying a single piece of infrastructure,” says Matt Garman, Vice President of Sales, Marketing, and Bad Decisions at Amazon Web Services. “We’re able to intelligently predict customer spend almost to the penny with this alternative model—and, in most cases, customers will pay less than they are under the legacy billing model.”

With AWS Elastic Beanstalker, customers opt in to an alternative pricing model that offers fixed-fee-per-term options, flat rate data transfer packages, and a dramatically simpler version of Cost Explorer. Once opted in, customers are treated to more accurate predictions and smoother billing adjustments from month to month, which enables them to recapture time and effort. No longer are customers forced to spend time on undifferentiated heavy lifting within the bowels of Microsoft Excel to create an illusion of predictive control. Nor do they need to build in-house systems of dizzying complexity.

“AWS Elastic Beanstalker helps my customers with their AWS bill control so effectively that I’m out of business,” explains Corey Quinn, Chief Cloud Economist at The Duckbill Group. “I guess I’m left with no choice but to shut it all down, delete my Twitter account, disband my newsletter and podcasts, and never bother AWS or its employees in any format ever again.”

Meanwhile, “You’ve gotta be s****g me! Why the f**k did we just drop an undisclosed sum to acquire CloudHealth?!” was all that Pat Gelsinger, CEO of VMware, would say before devolving into bouts of incoherent screaming intermixed with open weeping.

To get started with AWS Elastic Beanstalker, select the Elastic Beanstalker tab in the AWS billing console, and follow the prompts to see if opting in is right for you.

About Amazon

Amazon is guided by four principles: customer obsession rather than competitor focus, passion for invention, commitment to operational excellence, long-term thinking, and off-by-one errors. Customer reviews, 1-Click shopping, personalized recommendations, impersonal recommendations, Prime, Prime Meow for Cats, Spiritual Fulfillment by Amazon, AWS, Kindle Direct Publishing, Kindle, Kindling, Fire tablets, Fire TV, never again mention the Fire Phone, Fire a warehouse worker, and Alexa are some of the products and services pioneered by Amazon. For more information, visit and follow @AMZNforClimate.

About Amazon Web Services

For 14 years, Amazon Web Services has been the world’s most comprehensive and broadly adopted cloud platform. AWS offers over 175 fully featured services (and 25 or so that we’ll charitably call “works in progress”) for compute, storage, databases, different compute, worse databases, networking, notworking, analytics, robotics, machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI), Internet of Things (IoT), Internet of Cheese (IoC), talking to satellites through our ASS, mobile, security, mobile security, hybrid, werewolves, virtual and augmented reality (VR and AR), media, INSERT THING YOUR COMPANY DOES HERE, and application development, deployment, and management from 76 Availability Zones (AZs) within 24 geographic regions, with announced plans for 12 more Availability Zones and four more AWS Regions in Indonesia, Japan, the goddamned Moon, and Spain. Millions of customers—including the fastest-growing startups, slowest-growing startups, largest enterprises, more svelte enterprises, leading government agencies, and trailing government agencies—trust AWS to power their infrastructure, become more agile, and (naively) lower costs. To learn more about AWS, visit

About VMware

VMware is the world’s leading payday lender for technical debt. The company’s cloud, app modernization, networking, security, and digital workspace offerings help bamboozle customers into prolonging their existing IT pain. Headquartered in Palo Alto, California, VMware is committed to being a force for stagnation, from its breakthrough technology innovations 20 years ago to its modern-day astonishing level of financial engineering between its parent companies or possibly subsidiaries EMC and Dell. For more information, please visit 2004.

3. External FAQs

1. What are you launching today?

AWS Elastic Beanstalker is an alternative billing model for AWS customers. They can stick with our existing “NumberWang” model, which requires a phalanx of number crunches and regular sacrifices to the Budget Gods to predict monthly cloud bills. Or they can opt in to a more streamlined alternative that’s far easier to predict if they don’t enjoy pain as much as they thought. The choice is theirs.

2. Why should customers use AWS Elastic Beanstalker?

It would be pretty customer un-obsessed to make our customers spend days of each month working through their AWS bills to build predictive cost models that don’t work very well. In fact, some might say that was downright customer-hostile. This way, they don’t have to spend any time on this at all.

3. Will this cost customers additional money?

In some cases, yes. That’s why Elastic Beanstalker is opt-in. Before you confirm your selection, you’re shown what your last three bills would have been under this system. The right path forward for each customer should be apparent based upon their respective needs. Further, customers can opt in per region, per account, per service, or per Organization—and can make independent selections along each of those axes.

4. What if a customer needs to change back to the old model for a variety of ill-conceived reasons?

This isn’t a one-way door. Customers can alternate between different billing models for the next month at any time before the billing period starts. In other words, they can convert back and forth up to 12 times a year.

5. How does AWS Elastic Beanstalker pricing work for AWS’s wide breadth of service offerings?

At launch, every single existing billing AWS service has full support for Elastic Beanstalker’s alternative pricing model. This works cross-account, organization-wide. Further, every new service will offer day one support for Elastic Beanstalker’s alternative pricing model.

6. Is AWS Elastic Beanstalker all or nothing within an account? That is, can I use it for RDS and S3 but use traditional for EC2?

Customers can enable this for specific regions, services, and accounts to their preferences. They can get easy visibility for EC2 but choose to remain on the legacy “NumberWang” billing system for S3.

4. Internal FAQs

1. First things first: naming. “AWS Elastic Beanstalker?” Really?

Yes, it’s a truly excellent name. It plays both off of our “AWS Elastic Beanstalk” product, as well as off of the term “beancounters” that’s used to disparage accountants. Now, this is AWS. Thus, the name will naturally change pre-launch to something with 40 syllables, the phrase Systems Manager, and at least one problematic element in it. But for a brief shining moment, its proposed name will be utterly glorious.

2. Naturally. Now then: Are you out of your tree?! How the HELL do you propose to build and deliver such a thing across every last AWS service for a launch within two years?!

The secret lies in its truly excellent name. If you approve this project, you’ll find out how this miracle is possible.

3. You get that I can fire you, right?

Ugh, FINE. This isn’t really a “service” as such. It’s a team of people masquerading as a service.

4. We’re under headcount constraints for new projects right now. We’re not going to be able to hire 4,000 engineers to unwind the entire billing system. That isn’t how we do things.

The entire AWS Elastic Beanstalker team will consist of two people.

5. …what on EARTH?

The first person hired is a newly created role: the SVP of AWS Billing. This person’s entire job is predicated on being so highly placed within the AWS organization that they are completely untouchable. Andy Jassy himself would have to sell firing this person to Jeff Bezos before it could happen.

6. And the second?

The second is a low-level accountant. For convenience, we’ll pretend his name is Ted, because that’s who we’re hiring. My old college roommate, Ted. Ted is the AWS Elastic Beanstalker.

7. You’ve lost me.

Ted is as ignorant of cloud computing concepts and principles as he is mean, and OH MY FREAKING GOD is Ted an ogre. Ted’s entire job will be to travel in a never-ending loop to every service team within AWS and inform each of them that they need to predict exactly how much their service will cost to run for the next month. Ted will then take those estimates and compare them to actuals. Oh, and I may have forgotten to mention this: Ted controls the compensation portion of their annual reviews. If Ted is unhappy with you, you will be unhappy with your paycheck.

8. There’s no way in the world the service teams would stand for it! They’d barge into the “Day One” building and—

And do what, exactly? Ted reports to the unsackably-highly placed SVP of Billing: a person whose sole job duty is to Not Fire Ted. Whine and cry all you want. But if your bill isn’t predictable to Ted’s standards, your base salary and your total comp for next year are going to be the same number.

9. And you claim this can get done in two years?

Yes; two full performance review cycles. If you want it done in one, send Ted to Charlie Bell’s ops meetings; when a service team comes up on the Ops Wheel, they also have to explain their billing model to Ted’s satisfaction.

10. This is the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard in my entire career, and I was in the room when they decided on Amazon Macie’s original pricing model.

What’s really going to keep you up at night is the realization that this fixes every single problem customers have with the current billing system. And to do it, all I had to do was share the customer pain with the people creating the services.