Although there are some circumstances in which a cloud pricing comparison can be worthwhile, in most cases Cloud Service Providers´ services and prices are so closely matched it will likely cost you more in time than you can save by comparing one provider against another.
A few years ago, cloud pricing comparisons were all the rage despite the fact the comparisons would quickly be out of date due to frequent price reductions. Price reductions still happen, but they only appear to be as frequent as before due to a vastly increased number of regions and services giving the impression price reductions are being made here, there, and everywhere. That´s not the case.
In fact, apart from the occasional anomaly, there has been little to choose in pricing between the major Cloud Service Providers for quite some time. A cloud pricing comparison should factor in auxiliary services such as block storage, load balancing, and data transfers, and committed use discounts where applicable; but, these are generally similar as well. Certainly, if you are compiling a cloud pricing comparison for a relatively small project, the savings you may achieve will likely be mitigated by the time spent compiling the comparison.
What about large scale deployments?
There is a case for compiling a cloud pricing comparison when you are pricing a large scale deployment, but the case is pretty shaky unless you have architected the deployment to know exactly what type of services you will use (not just “what services” you will use), what level of performance you require, what security considerations have to be taken into account, and what volume of demand you expect.
Even then, compiling a cloud pricing comparison can be time-consuming due to the number of variables involved. Comparisons of cloud prices for large scale deployments are no longer just a calculation of computing, storage, and auxiliary services. They are likely to contain micro-services such as containers and serverless computing as well, plus the tools to orchestrate, monitor, and manage the deployment.
Then there´s the question of what to do if some elements of the large scale deployment can be run more cost-efficiently in one cloud, while other elements can be run more cost-efficiently in another? In this case, you also have to reconcile the additional management overhead and complexity against what you might save by deploying resources across two or more public clouds. You have to ask yourself, “Is compiling a cloud pricing comparison still worthwhile?”
So, is compiling a cloud pricing comparison still worthwhile?
In the majority of cases, no. Not only will you find little difference in price between major Cloud Service Providers, but you will also likely find that - due to the rapidly evolving nature of the cloud - any large scale project you cost prior to deployment will change in its architecture soon after deployment due to new services and tools being introduced.
Furthermore, rather than focus on comparing cloud costs, your time may be better spent managing cloud costs to ensure you achieve maximum cost efficiency for the projects being deployed. Costs can quickly spiral out of control in the cloud due to the self-provisioning nature of cloud computing; and, not only is this damaging to the business, it can nullify the benefits of any cloud pricing comparison.
To find out how best to manage costs in the cloud, we have produced an eBook entitled “5 Best Practices for Improving Cloud Cost Management”. The eBook is free to download and provides information about getting to know your spend in order to better control cloud costs and more accurately forecast cloud spend each month.