Click here to close now.




















Welcome!

Agile Computing Authors: Carmen Gonzalez, Pat Romanski, Gregor Petri, Elizabeth White, Georgiana Comsa

Related Topics: @CloudExpo

@CloudExpo: Blog Post

Navigating the Fog - Billing, Metering & Measuring the Cloud

The 400,000+ Amazon Web Service consumers await with great anticipation and horror

It's that dreaded time of the month again, the time of the month that we, the 400,000+ Amazon Web Service consumers await with great anticipation / horror. What I'm talking about is the Amazon Web Services Billing Statement sent at beginning of each month. A surprise every time. In honor of this monthly event, I thought I'd take a minute to discuss some of the hurdles as well as opportunities for Billing, Metering & Measuring the Cloud.

I keep hearing that one of the biggest issues facing IaaS users currently is a lack of insight into costing, billing and metering. The AWS costing problem is straightforward enough, unlike other cloud services Amazon has decided to not offer any kind of real time reporting or API for their cloud billing (EC2, S3, etc). There are some reporting features for DevPay and Flexible Payments Service (Amazon FPS) as well as a Account Activity page, but who has time for a dashboard when what we really want is an realtime API?

To give some background, when Amazon launched S3 and later EC2 the reasoning was fairly straightforward, they were a new services still in beta. So without officially comfirming, the word was a billing API was coming soon. But 3 years later, still no billing billing API? So I have to ask, what gives?

Other Cloud services have done a great job of providing a real time view of what the cloud is costing you. One of the best examples is GoGrid's myaccount.billing.get API and widget which offers a variety of metrics through their Open Source GoGrid API.

Billing APIs aside, another major problem still remains for most cloud users, a basis for comparing the quality & cost of cloud compute capacity between cloud providers. This brings us to the problem of metering the cloud which Yi-Jian Ngo at Microsoft pointed out last year. In his post he stated that "Failing to come up with an appropriate yardstick could lead to hairy billing issues, savvy customers tinkering with clever arbitrage schemes and potentially the inability of cloud service providers to effectively predict how much to charge in order to cover their costs."

Yi-Jian Ngo couldn't have been more right in pointing to Wittgenstein's Rule: "Unless you have confidence in the ruler's reliability, if you use a ruler to measure a table, you may as well be using the table to measure the ruler."



A few companies have attempted to define cloud capacity, notably Amazon's Elastic Compute Cloud service uses a EC2 Compute Unit as the basis for their EC2 pricing scheme (As well as bandwidth and storage) Amazon states they use a variety of measurements to provide each EC2 instance with a consistent and predictable amount of CPU capacity. The amount of CPU that is allocated to a particular instance is expressed in terms of EC2 Compute Units. Amazon explains that they use several benchmarks and tests to manage the consistency and predictability of the performance from an EC2 Compute Unit. One EC2 Compute Unit provides the equivalent CPU capacity of a 1.0-1.2 GHz 2007 Opteron or 2007 Xeon processor. They claim this is the equivalent to an early-2006 1.7 GHz Xeon processor. Amazon makes no mention of how they achieve their benchmark and users of the EC2 system are not given any real insight to how they came to their benchmark numbers. Currently there are no standards for cloud capacity and therefore there is no effective way for users to compare with other cloud providers in order to make the best decision for their application demands.

An idea I suggested in a post last year was to create an open universal compute unit which could be used to address an "apples-to-apples" comparison between cloud capacity providers. My rough concept was to create a Universal Compute Unit specification and benchmark test based on integer operations that can form an (approximate) indicator of the likely performance of a given virtual application within a given cloud such as Amazon EC2, GoGrid or even a virtualized data center such as VMWare. One potential point of analysis cloud be in using a stand clock rate measured in hertz derived by multiplying the instructions per cycle and the clock speed (measured in cycles per second). It can be more accurately defined within the context of both a virtual machine kernel and standard single and multicore processor types.

My other suggestion was to create a Universal Compute Cycle (UCC) or the inverse of Universal Compute Unit. The UCC would be used when direct system access in the cloud and or operating system is not available. One such example is Google's App Engine or Microsoft Azure. UCC could be based on clock cycles per instruction or the number of clock cycles that happen when an instruction is being executed. This allows for an inverse calculation to be performed to determine the UcU value as well as providing a secondary level of performance evaluation / benchmarking.

I'm not the only one thinking about this, One such company trying to address this need is Satori Tech with their capacity measurement metric, which they call the Computing Resource Unit (“CRU”). They claim that the CRU allows for dynamic monitoring of available and used computing capacity on physical servers and virtual pools/instances. The CRU allows for uniform comparison of capacity, usage and cost efficiency in heterogeneous computing environments and abstraction away from operating details for financial optimization. Unfortunately the format is a patented and closed format only available to customers of Satori Tech.

And before you say it, I know that UCU, UCC or CRU could be "gamed" by unsavory cloud providers attempting to pull an "Enron", this is why we would need to create an auditable specification which includes a "certified measurement" to address this kind of cloud bench marking. A potential avenue is IBM's new "Resilient Cloud Validation" program, which I've come to appreciate lately. (Sorry about my previous lipstick on pig remarks) The program will allow businesses who collaborate with IBM to perform a rigorous, consistent and proven program of benchmarking and design validation to use the IBM logo: "Resilient Cloud" when marketing their services. These types of certification programs may serve as the basis for defining a level playing field among various cloud providers. Although I feel that a more impartial trade group such as the IEEE may be a better entity to handle the certification process.

More Stories By Reuven Cohen

An instigator, part time provocateur, bootstrapper, amateur cloud lexicographer, and purveyor of random thoughts, 140 characters at a time.

Reuven is an early innovator in the cloud computing space as the founder of Enomaly in 2004 (Acquired by Virtustream in February 2012). Enomaly was among the first to develop a self service infrastructure as a service (IaaS) platform (ECP) circa 2005. As well as SpotCloud (2011) the first commodity style cloud computing Spot Market.

Reuven is also the co-creator of CloudCamp (100+ Cities around the Globe) CloudCamp is an unconference where early adopters of Cloud Computing technologies exchange ideas and is the largest of the ‘barcamp’ style of events.

@ThingsExpo Stories
With major technology companies and startups seriously embracing IoT strategies, now is the perfect time to attend @ThingsExpo in Silicon Valley. Learn what is going on, contribute to the discussions, and ensure that your enterprise is as "IoT-Ready" as it can be! Internet of @ThingsExpo, taking place Nov 3-5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, is co-located with 17th Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. The Internet of Things (IoT) is the most profound change in personal an...
In his session at @ThingsExpo, Lee Williams, a producer of the first smartphones and tablets, will talk about how he is now applying his experience in mobile technology to the design and development of the next generation of Environmental and Sustainability Services at ETwater. He will explain how M2M controllers work through wirelessly connected remote controls; and specifically delve into a retrofit option that reverse-engineers control codes of existing conventional controller systems so they don't have to be replaced and are instantly converted to become smart, connected devices.
17th Cloud Expo, taking place Nov 3-5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. Cloud computing is now being embraced by a majority of enterprises of all sizes. Yesterday's debate about public vs. private has transformed into the reality of hybrid cloud: a recent survey shows that 74% of enterprises have a hybrid cloud strategy. Meanwhile, 94% of enterprises are using some form of XaaS – software, platform, and infrastructure as a service.
The 17th International Cloud Expo has announced that its Call for Papers is open. 17th International Cloud Expo, to be held November 3-5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, brings together Cloud Computing, APM, APIs, Microservices, Security, Big Data, Internet of Things, DevOps and WebRTC to one location. With cloud computing driving a higher percentage of enterprise IT budgets every year, it becomes increasingly important to plant your flag in this fast-expanding business opportunity. Submit your speaking proposal today!
The 3rd International WebRTC Summit, to be held Nov. 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, announces that its Call for Papers is now open. Topics include all aspects of improving IT delivery by eliminating waste through automated business models leveraging cloud technologies. WebRTC Summit is co-located with 15th International Cloud Expo, 6th International Big Data Expo, 3rd International DevOps Summit and 2nd Internet of @ThingsExpo. WebRTC (Web-based Real-Time Communication) is an open source project supported by Google, Mozilla and Opera that aims to enable bro...
SYS-CON Events announced today the Containers & Microservices Bootcamp, being held November 3-4, 2015, in conjunction with 17th Cloud Expo, @ThingsExpo, and @DevOpsSummit at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. This is your chance to get started with the latest technology in the industry. Combined with real-world scenarios and use cases, the Containers and Microservices Bootcamp, led by Janakiram MSV, a Microsoft Regional Director, will include presentations as well as hands-on demos and comprehensive walkthroughs.
The Internet of Things is in the early stages of mainstream deployment but it promises to unlock value and rapidly transform how organizations manage, operationalize, and monetize their assets. IoT is a complex structure of hardware, sensors, applications, analytics and devices that need to be able to communicate geographically and across all functions. Once the data is collected from numerous endpoints, the challenge then becomes converting it into actionable insight.
Contrary to mainstream media attention, the multiple possibilities of how consumer IoT will transform our everyday lives aren’t the only angle of this headline-gaining trend. There’s a huge opportunity for “industrial IoT” and “Smart Cities” to impact the world in the same capacity – especially during critical situations. For example, a community water dam that needs to release water can leverage embedded critical communications logic to alert the appropriate individuals, on the right device, as soon as they are needed to take action.
As more and more data is generated from a variety of connected devices, the need to get insights from this data and predict future behavior and trends is increasingly essential for businesses. Real-time stream processing is needed in a variety of different industries such as Manufacturing, Oil and Gas, Automobile, Finance, Online Retail, Smart Grids, and Healthcare. Azure Stream Analytics is a fully managed distributed stream computation service that provides low latency, scalable processing of streaming data in the cloud with an enterprise grade SLA. It features built-in integration with Azur...
Akana has announced the availability of the new Akana Healthcare Solution. The API-driven solution helps healthcare organizations accelerate their transition to being secure, digitally interoperable businesses. It leverages the Health Level Seven International Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources (HL7 FHIR) standard to enable broader business use of medical data. Akana developed the Healthcare Solution in response to healthcare businesses that want to increase electronic, multi-device access to health records while reducing operating costs and complying with government regulations.
SYS-CON Events announced today that the "Second Containers & Microservices Expo" will take place November 3-5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Containers and microservices have become topics of intense interest throughout the cloud developer and enterprise IT communities.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Pythian, a global IT services company specializing in helping companies leverage disruptive technologies to optimize revenue-generating systems, has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 17th Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 3–5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Founded in 1997, Pythian is a global IT services company that helps companies compete by adopting disruptive technologies such as cloud, Big Data, advanced analytics, and DevOps to advance innovation and increase agility. Specializing in designing, imple...
WebRTC has had a real tough three or four years, and so have those working with it. Only a few short years ago, the development world were excited about WebRTC and proclaiming how awesome it was. You might have played with the technology a couple of years ago, only to find the extra infrastructure requirements were painful to implement and poorly documented. This probably left a bitter taste in your mouth, especially when things went wrong.
Through WebRTC, audio and video communications are being embedded more easily than ever into applications, helping carriers, enterprises and independent software vendors deliver greater functionality to their end users. With today’s business world increasingly focused on outcomes, users’ growing calls for ease of use, and businesses craving smarter, tighter integration, what’s the next step in delivering a richer, more immersive experience? That richer, more fully integrated experience comes about through a Communications Platform as a Service which allows for messaging, screen sharing, video...
Too often with compelling new technologies market participants become overly enamored with that attractiveness of the technology and neglect underlying business drivers. This tendency, what some call the “newest shiny object syndrome,” is understandable given that virtually all of us are heavily engaged in technology. But it is also mistaken. Without concrete business cases driving its deployment, IoT, like many other technologies before it, will fade into obscurity.
SYS-CON Events announced today that IceWarp will exhibit at the 17th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 3–5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. IceWarp, the leader of cloud and on-premise messaging, delivers secured email, chat, documents, conferencing and collaboration to today's mobile workforce, all in one unified interface
With the proliferation of connected devices underpinning new Internet of Things systems, Brandon Schulz, Director of Luxoft IoT – Retail, will be looking at the transformation of the retail customer experience in brick and mortar stores in his session at @ThingsExpo. Questions he will address include: Will beacons drop to the wayside like QR codes, or be a proximity-based profit driver? How will the customer experience change in stores of all types when everything can be instrumented and analyzed? As an area of investment, how might a retail company move towards an innovation methodolo...
SYS-CON Events announced today that HPM Networks will exhibit at the 17th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 3–5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. For 20 years, HPM Networks has been integrating technology solutions that solve complex business challenges. HPM Networks has designed solutions for both SMB and enterprise customers throughout the San Francisco Bay Area.
Consumer IoT applications provide data about the user that just doesn’t exist in traditional PC or mobile web applications. This rich data, or “context,” enables the highly personalized consumer experiences that characterize many consumer IoT apps. This same data is also providing brands with unprecedented insight into how their connected products are being used, while, at the same time, powering highly targeted engagement and marketing opportunities. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Nathan Treloar, President and COO of Bebaio, will explore examples of brands transforming their businesses by t...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Micron Technology, Inc., a global leader in advanced semiconductor systems, will exhibit at the 17th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 3–5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Micron’s broad portfolio of high-performance memory technologies – including DRAM, NAND and NOR Flash – is the basis for solid state drives, modules, multichip packages and other system solutions. Backed by more than 35 years of technology leadership, Micron's memory solutions enable the world's most innovative computing, consumer,...