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Comparing cloud hosting prices – Challenges and solutions

Comparing cloud hosting prices

Challenges and solutions

Migrating existing systems to the cloud can offer improved levels of service and IT agility at lower cost when the most appropriate cloud hosting provider is chosen. Some of the issues in making that appropriate choice include:

  • How do you generate a realistic business case that justifies moving to the cloud?
  • How do you efficiently compare the different provider’s prices?
  • Is a multi-cloud strategy worthwhile?
  • What are the true cost of services in the cloud?

Taking too long, or getting it wrong are both considerations that cloud migration initiatives must manage.

Hosting vendor's cloud calculators

Starting with your inventory of systems, it should be straight forward to calculate the cost to host those virtual machines (VMs) on cloud infrastructure as a service (IAAS) offerings.

The global public cloud providers, such as Amazon EC2, Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud Platform provide on-line hosting cost calculators. To use them, you need to know which service best matches the technical specification of each server or VM. That's fine for a couple of new assets, but a significant inventory takes commitment.

With providers offering different charges for locations, the analysis needs to be repeated for every single location of choice.

To generate an accurate comparison across providers, this process must be run against each provider. If public cloud hosting is a utility, you should have freedom of choice.

In our business technology transformation consulting, we have found that the reality of trying to manually match existing servers to hosting services needs significant time and effort, even for a small estate of several hundred business systems. Whether that is run in-house or dumped on consultants that is time, effort and cost.

Keeping cloud provider prices current

Cloud hosting prices frequently change for competitive advantage, so it is likely that by the time initial analysis work has been completed, the data and matches will be out of date and needs to be reworked.

Given the scale of this challenge, many professional service providers use mapping spreadsheets. These are often manually created and are not linked to the ever changing prices or regional differences.

What's worse, is that this still requires significant time and effort which is expensive on a day rate with potential and likelihood of error.

Taking even a modest server estate of 300 server or VM assets and a host matching look-up time of 5 minutes per asset, that's 25 hours of effort for one hosting provider. Across the three principle public cloud hosting providers is 75 hours. Now try to run the analysis on a regular basis to account for your ever changing inventory and hosting prices ...

Mapping assets like for like

If this wasn't enough, the true complexity comes in trying to determine how cloud providers really relate. For good commercial reasons, the cloud providers make it difficult to compare their services and pricing. That product differentiation is for your consumer benefit !

The way storage, CPU and throughput are calculated vary provider to provider. Data centres exist in different locations with different services and capabilities. Each provider then requires different additional services to be layers in with different licensing arrangement. All of this and this adds significant complexity.

Most service providers align with a single cloud partner in order to avoid this complexity, which can lock you out of benefiting from a multi-cloud or multi-hybrid opportunity.

A better way to compare cloud prices

There are online services that will compare the price for individual technical specifications across multiple public and private cloud hosting providers, which is fine for modest deployments, but not at corporate scale.

The challenge of multi-cloud pricing complexity at scale can be solved with on-line analytics such as Cloud Compare.

Upload an inventory of hundreds of server assets which are matched to the best technical fit service from each provider in the relevant geography, with the on-demand and commitment discounted prices compared side by side in seconds.

Compare your global estate or drill down to datacentres, environments or even individual VMs to define the perfect cost to service mix at that price point in time. Run the analytics again after any price change to identify risks and opportunities.

A cloud hosting cost comparison solution that takes the time, effort and complexity of finding the right cloud provider and generating a business case to get the best of the cloud.

That is cloud hosting cost comparison made easy.

First published by Hans Baumhardt in April 2019 on