Sunday, December 7, 2008

Comparing Costs of Different Cloud Computing Providers

The past month we have been trying to quantify the cost of moving some of our workloads into the cloud. It has been a very painful experience. Each vendor insists on mixing up the pricing in such a way that direct comparisons require major mental gymnastics. On top of that, the big three, IBM Blue Cloud, HP Adaptive Infrastructure as a Service, or AIaaS (who in the marketing department came up with that one?), and Sun Network.com are so incredibly opaque that we have just given up. Furthermore, Sun started out at $1/cpu hour and that simply is not competitive. Sun has taken the site down and the home page of the site claims that they are working on something else. Out of sheer frustration, we have ditched IBM and HP as well. It appear that they are catering to their existing deep-pocket customers and we do not expect their solutions to be cost competitive for the disruptive cloud computing concept that will usher in the new economics.

Many activities at the US National Labs are directed to evaluate if it is cost effective to move to AWS or similar services. To be able to compare our results to that research we decided to map all costs into AWS compatible pricing units. This yielded the following very short list:
ProviderCPU $/cpu-hrDisk I/O $/GBInternet I/O $/GBStorage $GB-month
Amazon$0.80$0.10$0.17$0.15
Rackspace/Mosso$0.72$0.00$0.25$0.50

The reason for the short list is that there are very few providers that actually sell computes. Most of the vendors that use the label cloud provider are actually just hosting companies of standard web services. Companies like 3Tera, Bungee Labs, Appistry, and Google cast their services in terms of web application services, not generic compute services. This makes these services not applicable to the value-add computes that are common during the research and development phase of product companies.

In the next article we are going to quantify the cost of different IT workloads.

7 comments:

BXL said...

Hi:

ThX for the mention of 3tera, but you are a touch misinformed.

Re - "The reason for the short list is that there are very few providers that actually sell computes. Most of the vendors that use the label cloud provider are actually just hosting companies of standard web services. Companies like 3Tera, Bungee Labs, Appistry, and Google cast their services in terms of web application services, not generic compute services."

3tera is a software company, not a Cloud Computing service provider - certainly not a hosting provider.

Our premier product, AppLogic, is a platform on which Cloud service providers can deploy their services and enterprises can install in their data centers to turn their IT in private metered clouds.

Not only are we not a hosting provider, we eat our own dog food. Yes, we are a software company that provides the only true Cloud Computing platform in the world today - a platform that enables the abstraction of everything an app needs to run - it's code, data, middleware, DBMS, infrastructure, configurations, policies, etc., from the hardware. And like most software companies, we do development, testing, QA, demos, integration, maintenance, etc. But unlike most, we operate in the clouds - we do not own a single server!

Barry X Lynn
Chairman and CEO
3tera, Inc.

Theodore Omtzigt said...

Barry:

Re: "Yes, we are a software company that provides the only true Cloud Computing platform in the world today"

Could you elaborate on that assertion? 3Tera is defining cloud computing rather narrowly if you believe that statement to be true.

Erik Carlin said...

Theodore,

Thanks for the post. A quantitative cost comparison of the various cloud offerings is desperately needed. I've been working to produce an apples to apples cost comparison of Cloud Files + LimeLight and S3 + CloudFront, so I can relate to your frustration. I'll be posting a calculator soon and will comment again once it's ready for consumption. In just about every scenario I ran, Rackspace/Mosso cloud storage was cheaper than AWS. Where did you get the cost data for Rackspace/Mosso? For example, Cloud Files pricing starts at $0.15/GB while you show $0.50/GB. Outgoing bandwidth starts at $0.22/GB but you show $0.25/GB. Cloud compute is currently available via SliceHost where the pricing is bundled (compute + storage + bandwidth for one price). That makes it difficult to ascertain an exact CPU charge so I'm wondering where the $0.72/CPU-hr came from. What instance/slice size was that for? In many cases, bundling is cheaper than pure pay as you go, but we are currently working on an updated, more granular pricing model. Once that comes, apples to apples on compute will be much easier. I'm happy to chat more and clarify any Rackspace/Mosso pricing. My e-mail is erik [dot] carlin [at] rackspace [dot] com.

Regards,
Erik Carlin
Senior Architect, Rackspace Cloud Division

Theodore Omtzigt said...

Erik:

I derived the data from the Mosso website. The standard instance is $100/month. Given that the 10k compute cycles included in that is equivalent to the compute power of a 2.8GHz cpu and that there are 720 hours in a month, this yields a reasonable $0.72/cpu hour. To estimate the other costs I took the bulk costs beyond the standard instance because our workload is consuming much more than the standard instance and thus the cost quickly are settling on those bulk costs.

Erik Carlin said...

Theodore,

I see. You are comparing the cost of Cloud Sites which is a platform cloud to AWS which is an infrastructure cloud. A challenging problem indeed! I wrote a blog post here where I lay out our view on the different types of clouds. Depending on what you are trying to do, Cloud Sites may or may not be a good fit. If it is, it's generally a superior choice. May I suggest that you look at our Cloud Files and Cloud Servers offerings as well. They are infrastructure clouds and map to S3 and EC2, respectively. Comparing the costs of these solutions is still a bit tricky, but is much easier since they are at least in the same category of clouds. I'll follow up off list and we can continue any discussions there.

Thanks again for your efforts to produce a quantifiable cost comparison. It is definitely needed!

Erik

Theodore Omtzigt said...

Erik:

Thanks for the links. The data I used was the only data I could find on the Rackspace and Mosso websites. I did start with the Cloud Servers but the only pricing data I could find was on Cloud Sites. Let's work together to get the right data from Rackspace and i will update the blog accordingly.

sam said...

Hi Theodore,

Echoing the comments from Barry at 3tera, Appistry has been mis-categorized as well. We don't provided hosted services, but rather offer a software platform that helps public and private cloud users more easily build scalable cloud applications.

You may want to add GoGrid to your list of cloud infrastructure providers, though. They come from a hosting heritage, but in the end provide the end-user with access to the raw compute VM which they can do whatever they'd like with.

Sam
Appistry
http://www.appistry.com/blogs/sam