New wave of services looks to analyze cloud computing market

New services, such as the CloudSleuth real-time performance map and an offbeat 'cloud price normalization' index, cater to a growing number of buyers interested in real, valuable information on cloud computing.

Public cloud computing services like Amazon Web Services (AWS) have definitely arrived for some market segments, most notably Web operations and Web applications. In their wake, interesting new developments are now cropping up, like CloudSleuth, a real-time performance monitoring map for cloud services, and SpotCloud, a new stab at a cloud brokerage.

Essentially, one in three applications has at least one service that starts in Amazon Web Services.

Doug Willoughby, Compuware's director of cloud strategy,

This new crop of supporting characters is starting to grow as buyers search for more valuable, independent and realistic information on what cloud computing actually does and what it costs. Cloud benchmarks are already available from sites like CloudHarmony and others; now CloudSleuth, which launched Monday, uses Compuware's application performance monitoring tool Gomez to analyze publically available data from the Internet.

"The fact that they're doing this as an open platform is really encouraging," said Forrester VP and infrastructure expert James Staten. Cloud monitoring sites aren't really new -- there are several networking monitoring sites that track cloud availability -- but CloudSleuth offers a greater level of detail and interaction. "The granularity that's on display will be attractive," Staten said.

The site not only shows a dizzying array of performance statistics but allows users to test-fly applications and see how performance might be affected around the world. There are forums for discussion and quite a few tools that pretty much anyone developing a Web service or looking for detail on what cloud can do for them will find interesting.

For instance, CloudSleuth makes it so performance can be monitored at many different providers around the world. It's sort of a stock ticker showing where a given application might work best. Users could use the site to route around areas that have traffic holdups, and vendors can tailor their deployments to where there is more demand, all in almost real time.

Compuware's plan for CloudSleuth
So what does Compuware, a venerable mainframe solutions firm that most people wouldn't associate with cloud computing, get out of it? Its good old-fashioned boosterism, said Doug Willoughby, Compuware's director of cloud strategy. Compuware and the other companies that partnered on CloudSleuth, including Cisco, Japanese firm Internet Initiative Japan Inc. (a network solutions provider) and OpSource, all have a vested interest in encouraging awareness, visibility and transparency in cloud services to encourage growth.

"[Cloud computing providers] are competing against non-consumption, not each other," he said. Compuware's own customers were turning to cloud in increasing numbers, which doesn't hurt its bottom line too much; Compuware doesn't care if customers run its products on Amazon or anywhere else. But cloud is a major growth opportunity, Willoughby said, and launching CloudSleuth eases user confusion about what's out there.

He claims CloudSleuth is the only company that can provide this kind of visibility in the cloud. Gomez shows users exactly where and how most website transactions go, a virtual traffic map for the world's Internet consumption.

"If we go through the 50,000 transacts we monitor on an hourly basis and break it down…32% of sites have at least one call that ends up at Amazon or EC2 [Elastic Compute Cloud]. Essentially, one in three applications has at least one service that starts in AWS," he said.

That makes it incredibly important for Compuware users to be able to keep track of what's happening and where (and Amazon certainly doesn't care to broadcast information), so CloudSleuth fills in the gap. It costs Compuware little, relatively speaking, and gives users peace of mind about dipping into the cloud, Willoughby said. The site is hosted on GoGrid.

Enomaly debuts SpotCloud brokerage service
Cloud firm Enomaly also launched a side business this week. The company's SpotCloud is a commodity brokerage service for cloud providers; cloud users sign up on the buy side to look for the price they want and cloud sellers sign up on the sell side to compete to provide that capacity.

The brokerage is modeled on Amazon's Spot Instances, where AWS users bid for instances that go up and down in price, but SpotCloud aggregates multiple service providers into its marketplace. There's one major limitation at the moment, however: this is Enomaly's cloud only. Cloud providers using other technologies need not apply.

"I think when [Enomaly] supports at least one more implementation, it'll be interesting," said Forrester's Staten. He applauded the idea of an autonomous clearinghouse for cloud but said SpotCloud will wither if Enomaly can't bring more providers into the fold.

The real technical feat will be to make cloud delivery seamless and attractive across different technology platforms, but that will be a long-term proposition. "I've yet to see an IT person say 'I want to change the way I deploy this as often as possible,'" Staten said.

Where to get more cloud bang for your buck
Another thing that's changing rapidly is the era of price exclusivity or the ability to charge whatever feels right rather than facing external pressures. This lack of competitive price pressure, some observers say, has kept costs for cloud services high.

Web development shop GoCipher thinks it has a rudimentary answer: its new Cloud Price Calculator uses what the company calls a Cloud Price Normalization (CPN) index to show the kind of cloud resources users will get for their money.

GoCipher president Daniel Berninger said on his blog that there are giant, unjustifiable differences between what should be essentially equal services, such as compute, memory, storage and bandwidth. To show this, his calculator looked at five providers and their service offerings.

[Cloud computing providers] are competing against non-consumption, not each other.

Doug Willoughby, Compuware's director of cloud strategy,

It quantified the parts of each offering, added them up and divided that into the monthly price. That number (monthly fee divided by cloud resources delivered) was then divided into $1,000, returning the CPN index that can show how much cloud you'll get for $1,000 per month.

GoGrid fared poorly, with one of its smaller cloud services costing $721.90 per month but receiving a CPN of just 5.54. Softlayer, on the other hand, scored a 58.57 for its four-core Public Cloud CloudLayer service, which costs $309 per month. Berninger thinks some of the lack of value is due to the hidden, or at least underemphasized, costs of bandwidth in cloud usage.

To prove out his point about value and price, GoCipher resells three offerings from hoster DomainGurus that match up with three different AWS offerings and significantly undercut Amazon's prices on each. Of course, it's a monthly charge, not hourly, and only runs two different images, Windows and CentOS, so it's not exactly a true cloud offering. Nor is it on par with the range of features that AWS now offers, but the point is made. There's less and less room to hide, cloud providers -- the market is coming to expose you.

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

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