Developer Tools

How to manage the costs of isolated data environments

Shannon Thompson
January 30, 2024
How to manage the costs of isolated data environments
In this article

    Update, 4/15/24: You can now sign up for a free trial of Tonic Ephemeral! Get started today at:

    It’s launch week for Tonic Ephemeral, our new product for efficiently spinning up isolated test databases, and we’re excited to dig into the platform and its use cases during our launch event on Wednesday. As a teaser for that conversation, let’s explore one of the key ways in which Tonic Ephemeral is designed to benefit your development workflows: cost control.

    Cloud management platforms deliver reliable services, but their usage-based pricing models can result in unwelcome surprises at the end of the month. Engineering organizations focused on digital transformation want to empower their developers to quickly set up their own environments, but in many cases, cost concerns are shutting down the conversation. When a developer forgets about a database they stopped needing a month ago, costs will accrue unless it gets shut down automatically. Without safeguards, cost can become a critical issue for ephemeral test environments that are designed for short-term use. 

    Features that make managing the costs of isolated environments easy

    With the right capabilities in place, your team can achieve a workflow that makes it cheap and easy to create isolated databases that accelerate your engineering velocity without exceeding your budget. And with the peace of mind that comes with cost controls, you can confidently give your developers the freedom to create isolated data environments whenever they need them. Here’s how we’ve approached giving you the controls you need in Tonic Ephemeral.

    Database expiration controls 

    Tonic Ephemeral simplifies cost management by allowing users to set an expiration timer for a database during its creation. This eliminates the need to remember to manually shut it down and makes it effortless to control compute costs—the primary contributor to cloud environment expenses in most cases. 

    With Tonic Ephemeral, you can require every user to set an expiration timer when creating their database. Users have multiple expiration options to choose from: after a period of inactivity; at a specific time; or after business hours. For example, suppose you only need the database to be available between 8 am and 5 pm from Monday to Friday. If you configure those business hours in Tonic Ephemeral, Ephemeral will spin down the environment at 5pm and spin it back up at 8am.

    Screenshot from the Ephemeral UI showing how to set a database expiration time.

    In many cases, the developer won’t ever need to regain access to an expired database, but in cases where the database is still needed, Tonic Ephemeral reactivates the database with the data intact. With a reactivated database, the data is preserved in its previous state so you can pick up right where you left off, but without the costs of keeping the database running 24/7. You have the option to reactivate databases manually, via API, or if you've opted for the business hours feature, Tonic Ephemeral automatically restarts the database at the designated time. 

    Storage controls

    Storage generally contributes less to cloud costs, but is also important to manage. Tonic Ephemeral makes it easy to oversee storage costs through our Disk Storage settings. There are two distinct storage categories: databases and snapshots. 

    When you create a database, the space you allocate to that database contributes to your storage threshold. Once this threshold is surpassed, users are temporarily unable to create new databases until the storage usage falls within the specified storage allotment.

    Tonic Ephemeral keeps some snapshots of the data in an internal cache to enable two key capabilities: fast database reactivations and speedy database copies. But while these snapshots help Tonic Ephemeral move quickly, we don’t want them lingering unnecessarily. This is why we provide an auto-delete functionality which automatically removes snapshots after a specified period, once they are no longer needed. If preferred, you also have the option to manually delete snapshots.

    Screenshot from the Ephemeral UI showing disk storage settings.

    The value of Tonic Ephemeral

    Too often, cost concerns prevent organizations from offering isolated test environments to their developers. Tonic Ephemeral provides built-in controls to help you keep costs at a manageable level.

    By simplifying the setup (and teardown) of databases, Tonic Ephemeral takes care of the intricate work of creating and managing databases, so all you need to think about is the straightforward task of setting up application servers. 

    • Stop losing time provisioning and maintaining databases yourself.
    • Eliminate lag and wait-times in sourcing isolated datasets for development and testing environments with quick database copies.
    • Take advantage of our built-in expiration timers and other controls for cost savings.

    Focus on improving developer velocity without stressing over the bill at the end of the month. Sign up for Tonic Ephemeral today and join us for our upcoming webinar so you can unblock data access and get back to doing the work that directly helps your customers.

    Shannon Thompson
    Senior Product Manager
    Shannon is a product manager at

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