Why Compiling A Cloud Cost Comparison Is Harder Than Ever Before

CloudHealth Tech Staff
Oct. 23, 2019
4 minute read

Once upon a time, compiling a cloud cost comparison was difficult, but not impossible. Now, due to the increased number of services, discount options, and auxiliary tools, a comparison of cloud costs can involve multiple calculations per workload.

Only a few years ago, a comparison of cloud costs was a relatively simple operation. There was a narrow choice of compute and storage options, plus a handful of auxiliary costs such as snapshots, data transfers, load balancers, and monitoring tools. Practically the only complication at the time was the way in which the Google Cloud calculator deducted the sustained use discount automatically.

Over the years the number of cloud services - and the variety of options within each type of service - has increased dramatically. Now, any businesses compiling a VM/instance cloud cost comparison between the major providers can have up to five family types to choose from, four block storage options, and a decision to make about whether to reserve VM/instance capacity or not.

Remember When There was Only One Type of Reserved Instance?

You don´t need to have a long memory to remember a time when there was only one type of Reserved Instance. Prior to mid-2017, the only generally available committed use discount was AWS´ Reserved Instances (RIs), which could be purchased for one or three-year terms with a choice of all, partial, or no upfront payment. It was a relatively simple calculation to factor RIs into a cloud cost comparison.

Since 2017, AWS has added a new dimension to cloud cost comparisons by introducing Convertible RIs. During the same period, Microsoft Azure has extended its Reserved VM Instances and Hybrid Benefit to non-EA customers, Google Cloud has supplemented its Sustained Use discounts with Committed Use discounts, and Alibaba Cloud (which wasn´t a consideration in 2017) has launched a subscription service.

VM/Instance Comparisons Are Not the Only Comparisons

These days, a cloud cost comparison is more likely to include services and tools that weren´t in high demand a few years ago. For example, in the last year, spend on container services has increased six-fold and other fledgling services such as serverless computing, IoT, and machine learning are also being factored into comparisons of cloud costs as demand for these services increases.

Alongside these services, more management tools are being introduced to orchestrate services, monitor usage, improve cloud spend efficiency, and enhance security. The cost of each tool also has to be factored into a cloud cost comparison in order to reflect the actual cost of deploying a service on one cloud compared to deploying the same service on another cloud.

A Cloud Cost Comparison for Storage is even More Complicated

Aside from block storage attached to VMs/instances, Cloud Service Providers can offer up to seven further types of storage; and, within each type of storage, up to six pricing tiers. Each type of storage can have up to four data redundancy options, scaled pricing (including for API requests), and countless tools to manage data and ensure compliance with data protection regulations.

Because of the depth of options and scaled pricing, businesses need to have a pretty good idea of what, where, and how they want to use cloud storage services before starting a comparison of cloud costs. Indeed, it will likely be necessary to compile more than one cloud cost comparison per provider for each storage service required in order to account for varying degrees of demand.

Cloud Cost Management is Equally as Important

If you are going to commit a considerable amount of time to compile a comparison of cloud costs, you need to have safeguards in place to ensure costs are managed effectively once a decision has been made to choose one provider over another. There´s little point in compiling a cloud cost comparison if, after the services have been deployed, costs are allowed to spiral out of control.

To help businesses maintain control over their cloud costs, we have produced a free eBook “5 Best Practices for Improving Cloud Cost Management” which you are invited to download and read.