Dec 02, 2014

What does a cloud provider bill for?

Just starting to research cloud computing as an extension to our data center. Looking for a baseline of costs. Help?
By now we all know that cloud computing can be cheaper than paying for setting up and running your own server. But the dirty little secret is that comparison shopping can be a bear, akin to trying to get that "final number" from your local car dealer. The reason is because almost everything in the cloud is priced a la carte and on a usage basis. To make matters worse, some cloud providers don't even reveal their pricing until you sign up for their service.

And therein lies the challenge for an IT manager who wants to try to find the best-priced cloud: you have to read the fine print, and make sure you understand what is billable and when the meter starts – and stops – running. And to make matters worse, prices change often, although typically they drop as storage and compute power become cheaper. Each vendor is constantly adding new features or supporting new configurations in an attempt to be responsive to the market and its competition.

Each of the major cloud providers has calculator pages on their websites that you can use to estimate your monthly bill. You should start there and understand the various pricing tiers and what the particular units or rates are based on: sometimes it is in bytes consumed or transmitted, sometimes in machine hours or some other oddball unit (Google is fond of these) that have no real meaning outside that context. You should also understand what isn’t included or what you will have to pay extra for too.

Here are links to some of the major cloud providers’ pricing pages:

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