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The case for cloud storage: Cloud considerations and strategies

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Crunching the numbers with cloud cost analysis tools

Cloud costs can quickly skyrocket if the budget isn't kept in check. Cloud cost analysis tools, such as CloudCheckr and Cloudability, however, can help avoid that monthly sticker shock.

President Ronald Reagan famously said, "Trust, but verify." That concept applies to the world of public cloud services. Managing cloud costs can be tricky, and no one wants an expensive surprise at the end of the month. Cloud cost analysis tools -- such as Amazon Web Services' Trusted Advisor, CloudCheckr and Cloudability -- can prevent this sticker shock and keep your IT budget under control.

In addition to providing insight on the costs associated with public cloud use, cloud cost analysis tools shed light on costs you may not have considered. They can issue alerts as you approach service limits, suggest ways to mitigate costs incurred via security breaches and ensure your system is set up most effectively.

Analyzing the major cost analysis tools

Each of these tools efficiently uses the wide variety of cloud services available to prevent potential trouble. It's worth taking the time to see which tool works best for your unique situation, rather than jumping in with the biggest name or the cheapest option.

If your company spends less than $300 a month on cloud services, you won't need more than what your specific cloud provider offers for cost analysis. However, cloud users with higher budgets should look to a third-party or more advanced cloud cost analysis tool to ensure the budget stays under control.

Trusted Advisor. Public cloud titan Amazon Web Services (AWS) recently updated its Trusted Advisor Console for cloud cost analysis. AWS now provides Trusted Advisor at several levels -- free, developer, business and enterprise -- through the new console.

The free level provides four simple diagnostic checks: cost optimization, performance, security and fault tolerance. These checks can be used continuously, and they provide actionable information to help reduce overspending.Trusted Advisor's business level offers 37 checks and additional support for a minimum monthly payment of $100.

It's worth taking the time to see which tool works best for your unique situation, rather than jumping in with the biggest name or the cheapest option.

Choosing among the levels depends entirely on a business' needs and goals, but there should be something for everyone in the updated AWS cloud cost tool.

CloudCheckr. CloudCheckr helps to optimize spending and allocation costs, and it takes a snapshot to optimize your best practices for future use. Its best practices and resource dashboard reports can be very insightful.

CloudCheckr is designed for use with only AWS, so using this tool with multi-tenant hybrid cloud would only offer limited results. However, for AWS users, there is a free version that is worth checking out. Going one level up, there is a basic package for $75 per month. The more sophisticated your system, the higher-level tool you will need, and the more it will cost.

Cloudability. For non-AWS cloud users or for those that take advantage of multiple providers, Cloudability benefits from working with AWS, Heroku, Rackspace, SoftLayer and HP, among other providers. Cloudability can provide cost aggregation across these service providers -- for example, you may want to look at instance use overall. The tool also offers budget alerts. However, Cloudability will not work with all cloud service providers.

Cloudability starts at $95 per month, and it offers a free trial.

Cloud Cruiser. Enterprise users looking for a more advanced cloud cost management tool should look at Cloud Cruiser. This tool offers a wide range of features and spans several providers, including OpenStack, Microsoft and HP.

For a specific pricing estimate, contact Cloud Cruiser directly on its website.

About the author:
Casey Benko is the president of BLT Global Ventures LLC, which works with companies to leverage cloud services like AWS, Salesforce and Zuora.

Next Steps

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This was first published in August 2014

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The case for cloud storage: Cloud considerations and strategies

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