AWS Instance Scheduler

AWS Instance Scheduler is an AWS-provided solution that enables customers to configure custom start and stop schedules for their EC2 and RDS instances. The solution can help reduce operational costs by stopping resources when they are not needed and starting them back up based on a defined schedule. The most common example is stopping DEV instances outside of working hours. For example, this might reduce weekly usage from 168 hours to 50 hours, yielding a 70 percent reduction in running costs.

Instance Scheduler is a solution, not an AWS service, so you can’t find it in the AWS console. It is composed of several AWS services that are packaged together into a CloudFormation template. It’s important to note that it does not feature a user interface. AWS develops, maintains, and packages this solution. Rackspace deploys, configures, and manages it.

Use cases

You might find Instance Scheduler useful if you have any of the following:

  • Non-production environments that you don’t need 24/7
  • Proof-of-concept environments that you use for occasional demos
  • Nightly batch or job processing environments
  • Resources that are started manually by users only when they need the resources


Instance Scheduler supports:

  • Stopping and starting stand-alone EC2 instances
  • Stopping and starting RDS instances
  • Stopping and starting instances in multiple regions
  • Stopping and starting instances manually outside the defined schedule
  • Partial automation (stop-only or start-only schedule)

It does not support:

  • Stopping or starting instances that are part of an auto-scaling group (You can use native ASG scheduled actions in this case.)
  • Stopping or starting other managed services (such as Redshift, Elasticsearch, ElastiCache, and so on)


If you want to start using Instance Scheduler, submit a request in a Support ticket or reach out to your Account Manager.

Rackspace deploys the solution for interested customers and configures the schedules according to their needs.

Instance Scheduler stores schedule definitions in a DynamoDB table, with every Schedule named uniquely. It uses resource tags to associate EC2 and RDS instances with a particular schedule. For example, the tag might be Schedule=uk-office-hours, when uk-office-hours is the name of one of the Schedules defined in DynamoDB.

When need to override a schedule, use one of the following methods:

  • If it’s just for a short time (such as a few hours), you can simply start or stop the instance through the AWS Console. Instance Scheduler keeps applying the defined schedule as before.
  • If it’s for a longer period, you can change the value of the schedule tag key on the instance to either running or stopped. Before you do that, take a note of the previous value. Instance Scheduler keeps the instance in this state until you change the tag’s value back to its original value.


For Rackspace Elastic Engineering customers, we provide Instance Scheduler management at no additional cost. Customers are responsible for the minimal infrastructure cost to run the solution, normally up to $10 per AWS account per month. Setting up or managing the service might consume hours from your Elastic Engineering Pod.