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Cloud Businesses

Keeping Your Cloud Costs Under Control 85

Tech writer David Strom offer this in-depth article on keeping your cloud costs suppressed. He writes: "Some cloud providers don’t make pricing available until you sign up for their service. Others hide pricing schedules behind complex formulae. And therein lies the challenge for an IT manager who wants to try to find the best-priced cloud: you have to read the fine print, and make sure you understand what is billable, how it is measured and priced, and when the meter starts (and stops) running. Let’s look at where you can get more precise cost information, as well as examine a few of the growing number of third-party comparison services that can help you get more control over your cloud costs."
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Keeping Your Cloud Costs Under Control

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  • by mysqlbytes ( 908737 ) on Monday July 02, 2012 @10:51AM (#40517147) Homepage Journal
    Head on over to their monthly calculator [] to work out how much you'll be spending with them if you decide they are right. Would you go to do your grocery shopping and only find out how much each item you have bought is at the cashier? I think not...
    • Would you go to do your grocery shopping and only find out how much each item you have bought is at the cashier? I think not...

      I thought thats exactly what happens in most of the US, what with sales tax etc added at the till?

      Azure also has a cost calculator, here []

      • by sjames ( 1099 )

        Unlike pricing cloud services, you can apply a simple multiplier to the listed item cost to come up with the checkout price.

        If grocery shopping was like cloud computing, you'd have to work out the can charge (unit cost * can units where 1 can is more than one can unit and is affected by size and weight of the can), stocking charge, checkout charge (per unit as affected by product weight and can units). Don't forget to compute the cart charges and floor wear (based on cart weight and feet traveled). Thankful

    • Coincidentally, the Amazon cloud was down most of this weekend as their datacenter in West Virginia was impacted by this storm on the east coast. The datacenter I work in (also on the east coast) was not down. I've seen the amazon cloud go down quite a bit over the years. This is another thing you have to consider when picking your host.

    • by mrmeval ( 662166 )

      I just wanted to host an instance for a low storage, low bandwidth website and I could not trust that calculator. I could not trust the drone I spoke with on the phone. Since I didn't need the alleged power I now have a virtual server with capped cpu, memory and bandwidth on a host at a fixed price per month. I can't be charged more but the website could go dark during the month unless I approve the continuing charges for bandwidth. I feel good in avoiding the clowd clowns. It's cheaper than the price I was

  • I noticed that Amazon charges per hour, but I'm wondering if this is wall-clock time, or CPU-usage time? In other words, do I pay if the virtual instance is running but the CPU is idle?

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by OverlordQ ( 264228 )

      Well, lets go look []

      Pricing is per instance-hour consumed for each instance, from the time an instance is launched until it is terminated. Each partial instance-hour consumed will be billed as a full hour.

      Man, that was hard.

      • Yeah, but people think "the cloud" is supposed to be free, or nearly so. They see something that says $0.12/hour, and they think it means they're going to get charged $0.12.
      • Great, now besides grokking this complicated pricing model, I need to think of stuff to do in the idle-time of my instance to get the most bang for my buck.

        • by Skapare ( 16644 )

          You could help crack the password to my laptop.

        • If your instance has a significant amount of idle time, you're likely better off with an on-demand instance and powering it off when it's not in use.
          • So how about a (nontrivial) web-service that needs to be available 24/7, but is accessed on average only a few times a day?

            • Or similarly, a process which is required to do something every brief once every 15/30/60 minutes...

            • Do what I do. Reserve a micro instance on a 3 year plan. 1 time fee: $100 Monthly fee: $3.66 * 36 Total: $231.76 Averaged over 36 months: $6.44 That's slightly more expensive than some shared hosts, but the upshot is that you full access to a VM that's under your control to install whatever you please. I've got a blog, VPN and photo gallery and once you factor in bandwidth and Amazon S3 storage costs it's still under $7 a month.
      • Re:Unit of time (Score:5, Interesting)

        by QuantumRiff ( 120817 ) on Monday July 02, 2012 @11:14AM (#40517383)

        Plus bandwidth (incoming, between regions, etc), plus storage. Plus database size (if you use hosted one) plus dedicated IO for certain databases.. Plus Load balancers.. plus DNS queries.. Plus extra for their internal network with IPSec. minus some amounts if you purchase a "reserved instance". Then throw in just how much CPU is a "high CPU" Instance. And how does your needs map to that..

        But your right. a witty one line answer to make the previous guy feel dumb is all you really need. Its that simple.

      • by sjames ( 1099 )

        Don't forget the storage and network charges.

    • Re:Unit of time (Score:4, Informative)

      by Mr. Sketch ( 111112 ) <mister.sketch@gm[ ].com ['ail' in gap]> on Monday July 02, 2012 @11:10AM (#40517349)

      It's wall-clock time. Even if your virtual instance is in the 'running' state but idle and doing nothing, you're still getting billed for it.

      You're billed from when you do 'start-instance' to when you do 'terminate-instance'.

      Regarding the partial hours, they are based on wall-clock hours as well. If you start your instance at 1:58 and stop it at 2:01, you will be billed for two hours: One hour for the 1:00-1:59 hour, and one hour for the 2:00-2:59 hour. I have a cron job that runs at :55 and checks for any instances I've started up, but I'm not using anymore and shuts them down (there is no point in shutting them down before then since I might end up needing them at some point during that hour).

      • by Skapare ( 16644 )

        WTF does "terminate-instance" really mean? Is it equivalent to "halt -p" or is it equivalent to "dd if=/dev/zero of=/dev/sda" ?

        • You get billed until you stop the instance. Stopping is the equivalent of powering it down. Terminating is the equivalent of deleting it

  • There's an oligopoly and its pricing strategy is confuseopoly? There's a first (said in intensely ironic tone of voice)

    Find me an oligopoly without a confuseopoly pricing system, if you can. Cell phones? Check. Automobiles? Check. Now that almost all banks are owned by a couple big new york banks... check... Long distance providers (remember those?) ... Check...

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 02, 2012 @11:17AM (#40517411)

    Host locally and don't give up control of your stuff.

  • by Lumpy ( 12016 ) on Monday July 02, 2012 @11:38AM (#40517599) Homepage

    Increase in size of Internet connection to the office.

    We switched to the cloud expecting it but many IT departments dont think of the impact.

    5-10 people syncing to hosted services and other onlne apps is one thing, when you have all 6900 employees doing it, it will utterly CRUSH that wimpy T3 you have.

    And no, you cant use the garbage DSL or Cable modems. You need a real connection. we are buying an OC3 connection here to have upstream and downstream to be 100% reliable. and luckily we have fiber to the building already and a local POP is cheap enough that we are only spending a little more than 2X of what we were spending on the T3. We do have a business class Cable service as a failover backup.

    When you scale up with "cloud" you can saturate a internet connection quite fast.

    • by Skapare ( 16644 )

      What are you transmitting over these local connections? Are you backing up the contents of your cloud instances every 10 minutes? Is your cloud instance mounting your local drive for data to deliver to the web? Or is it mounting the other way around where you are using the cloud as a file server?

    • Well it does depend on what you're doing "in the cloud". If you're hosting web services in the cloud instead of in your office, it may lower bandwidth usage in your office.

      But yes, people forget about bandwidth. I've run into a bunch of IT guys who are starting to make the argument, "Why pay all the costs for maintaining this internal file server when I can just use cloud storage?"

      "Uh... yeah, because you have 70 people constantly updating 5 TB of data, operating off of a T1. Trying to do it all live o

  • I looked at this and thought "this has SlashBi written all over it". Turns out it's actually part of SlashCloud []. I must have missed the memo. When did that show up? And are we we going to get more SlashBuzzwords?

  • by jellomizer ( 103300 ) on Monday July 02, 2012 @11:44AM (#40517645)

    It seems like anything that is somewhat expensive, you cannot find an estimate of your final price online. You need sales people to give you a quote, then you are stuck with hearing there sales pitch and them getting annoyed when you say no.

    I understand that a lot of things are variable prices... However I want to know the ball park price. Am I looking at $10,000 or $100,000 or under $5,000?

    For example... The following I would like to have a ball park figure on, in my area...
    1. How much for Solar Panel? How much energy will they provide... On the average for an average size home.
    2. How much for Geothermal?
    3. How much for Central Air Conditioning?
    4. How much for enterprise software?

    The problem isn't just the Companies fault, it is the customer too... Most customers are too stupid to realize there are factors, and they just don't know what an estimate means, so the companies are afraid of posting their estimated prices online because too many people think the online estimate is a quote or a contactable price. Also they will have to compete with companies who give their estimates differently, difference companies may deal with different size customers. You quote for an enterprise system, company may say a mid sized company is 100 employees an other will think it is 1000 employees. so their estimates will be orders of magnitudes off. Also there is sometimes the case you get what you pay for... Too cheap you get cheap.
    While I understand the complication... I would wish there was a place where I can get an honest estimate.

    • by Skapare ( 16644 )

      I'm the CFH (customer from hell) that the sales people hate. I can describe the particulars and factors exactly, and then I expect them to pull a price out of their arse and be legally bound to that. Imagine you are a manager at a construction company and need a truck load of sand for a job, and the supplier tells you it costs 3.2 microdollars per grain of sand.

      Reality pricing is better. Give case studies of what people actually do. Describe a web site run on a cloud, and include all the particular fact

      • When you are in the business, you normally know what you are going to pay. You are usually already bound to the idea you will get this work done. So you want an accurate quote, not an estimate.

        The problem is in the phase if you want to do the project or not and such a project is new to you, and you have no price expectations at all. Sometimes getting an estimate (without the formal quote) is useful.

        Lets use a Car Analogy. Pretend we live in a world without car commercials... Or your TiVo skills have you

  • the same lessons still apply even if you change the name to "cloud".
    • by Skapare ( 16644 )

      It's just a hosting provider with a few more automation scripts added on and a "gotcha" pricing model.

  • And So It Begins (Score:5, Interesting)

    by StormReaver ( 59959 ) on Monday July 02, 2012 @12:23PM (#40517949)

    This is following a similar arc that the mainframe to PC story followed. Sadly, the people who are old enough to remember it are retiring, and the younger people who have not studies computing history are too ignorant to see it.

    The "cloud" nonsense is repeating history, and will have easily predictable outcomes. We will eventually be heralding the arrival of the "new" technology that allows us to have control over our own computing (but with laws that have to be circumvented or repealed due to Government totalitarianism).

    I can't help by shake my head in disbelief.

  • ... if it has root shell access over ssh (e.g. that command line that all the New Linux geeks hate so much).

    • by Skapare ( 16644 )

      It looks like they do this, but they do this BADLY. They allow firewall rules to specify which IP addresses can connect. This is bad for people on dynamic IPs. No idea, yet, if IPv6 is even supported.

      What they SHOULD do is allow the user to change the SSH port number

      , which is sufficient obscurity for the next few years. Hopefully, AWS will be blocking the various probers that try to dictionary attack the SSH ports, and help this situation.

    • The default Amazon EC2 linux instance exposes only SSH and logs you in as a user with sudo privileges.
      • by Skapare ( 16644 )

        So then I do "sudo passwd root" and enter my random string a couple times?

        • Yes. Personally, I prefer to just log in as the sudo user and then do "sudo su" to become root.

          The default configuration of SSH is to only allow you to log in with your private key so you're still going to muck around with to allow password logins or get the root user a public/private key pair.

  • by mjwx ( 966435 ) on Monday July 02, 2012 @12:49PM (#40518209)

    He writes: "Some cloud providers don’t make pricing available until you sign up for their service. Others hide pricing schedules behind complex formulae

    So what you're saying is by going with the "cloud" your money could end up disappearing into thin air.

    OK, I'll get my coat.

    • by Skapare ( 16644 )

      As long as they don't have a usage cap facility that YOU can set your own limits on, in either computer based technical units of usage, or by dollars (even zero for the free tier), and in time frames other than just a whole month, then yeah ... your money could end up disappearing into thin air.

      I should be able to set usage restrictions to, for example, no more than $10 in any one day, $50 in any one week, and $100 in any one month. Then at least I won't have more than $100 going into thin air. I'm paying

  • Seems to me, the cloud based business model - overcharging your customers to lose their data from your server - was fine as long as they would pony up the money.(and agree to the zero liability terms)
    Now that (non)economies of scale are proving too hard to keep the pictures of last summer's vacation from vanishing into the ether, it's time to reconsider allowing the end user to buy your app and worry about their own data.

In less than a century, computers will be making substantial progress on ... the overriding problem of war and peace. -- James Slagle