Cloudkick adds premium features for a fee

Cloud management startup Cloudkick has added monitoring, multi-user accounts, email alerts and other features it hopes users will pay for.

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Cloud management firm Cloudkick has won customers for its free, Web-based cloud manager by latching on to the increase in cloud computing awareness, but will users pay for its software?

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The startup is launching an official commercial product in the hopes that it can convince users to pony up for premium features. Co-founder Alex Polvi said the initial free service and basic functionality were well received, but users wanted more from the portal. Cloudkick inititally allowed users to start, stop and store virtual servers across Amazon Web Services and Rackspace.

"Folks wanted to see all these metrics about their servers," Polvi said.

Cloudkick lowered the bar for cloud computing from the command line user to the browser user, and the company is now looking to add more conveniences in one place. Polvi said Cloudkick based most of the planned commercial offerings around user feedback.

"They were saying, 'I want this! I'll pay for it,'" he said, of tools like SMS, email alerts and detailed performance monitoring.

Cloudkick allows users to manage, deploy and monitor virtual server instances across a variety of cloud providers through a single point-and-click Web interface. It also created and supports the libcloud project, a Python library that developers can build into applications to perform many of the same functions. Cloudkick and libcloud recently added support for VMware's vCloud APIs, a move that may prove important in convincing larger enterprises to dip a toe into the cloud.

Who will pay for Cloudkick?
The new features will start at $99 per month and include new monitoring features like performance logs, email alerts and multi-user accounts, a key feature for businesses that need users and resources under control.

"We did get a lot of requests from enterprises [for features] like multiple logins," Polvi said.

It's mainly for folks who are already spending a decent amount on hosting providers.
Alex Polvi, co-founder of Cloudkick,
Polvi's ambitions are modest. The firm raised $750,000 in venture capital in September 2009; enough, Polvi says, to "hire a bunch of folks" and keep operations going while they attract revenue. He said the free users and the cloud community remain essential to Cloudkick's grassroots efforts, and he's not looking to discourage free users or entice the unsure. Polvi said that knowing as much about the various cloud providers as he does now is enough value for users to want to pay for Cloudkick.

"It's mainly for folks who are already spending a decent amount on hosting providers," he said, who will want to pay for Cloudkick's features and experience using cloud platforms.

Cloud management competitive landscape
Cloudkick has stiff competition in cloud management. RightScale operates on the same "freemium" model, boasts years of experience with multiple cloud providers and presents a raft of products that put Cloudkick in the shade at this point, not to mention the company's 100-plus employees and booming revenue.

Enterprise-grade competitors like Savvis and OpSource have also announced polished, Web-based cloud environments that are designed with the cloud-wary in mind. Despite costing more, these environments have far more hooks in the lucrative enterprise market, as well as a focus on letting enterprises create hybrid clouds, which are secure mixes of public clouds and internal IT environments.

Carl Brooks is the Technology Writer at SearchCloudComputing.com. Contact him at cbrooks@techtarget.com.

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