Comparing Costs of Different Cloud Computing Providers

January 6, 2009
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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 incredib


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.
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