Welcome!

Agile Computing Authors: Elizabeth White, Liz McMillan, Yeshim Deniz, Pat Romanski, Andy Thurai

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.

IoT & Smart Cities Stories
SYS-CON Events announced today that CrowdReviews.com has been named “Media Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 22nd International Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 5–7, 2018, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. CrowdReviews.com is a transparent online platform for determining which products and services are the best based on the opinion of the crowd. The crowd consists of Internet users that have experienced products and services first-hand and have an interest in letting other potential buye...
In his general session at 19th Cloud Expo, Manish Dixit, VP of Product and Engineering at Dice, discussed how Dice leverages data insights and tools to help both tech professionals and recruiters better understand how skills relate to each other and which skills are in high demand using interactive visualizations and salary indicator tools to maximize earning potential. Manish Dixit is VP of Product and Engineering at Dice. As the leader of the Product, Engineering and Data Sciences team at D...
We are seeing a major migration of enterprises applications to the cloud. As cloud and business use of real time applications accelerate, legacy networks are no longer able to architecturally support cloud adoption and deliver the performance and security required by highly distributed enterprises. These outdated solutions have become more costly and complicated to implement, install, manage, and maintain.SD-WAN offers unlimited capabilities for accessing the benefits of the cloud and Internet. ...
"IBM is really all in on blockchain. We take a look at sort of the history of blockchain ledger technologies. It started out with bitcoin, Ethereum, and IBM evaluated these particular blockchain technologies and found they were anonymous and permissionless and that many companies were looking for permissioned blockchain," stated René Bostic, Technical VP of the IBM Cloud Unit in North America, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Conventi...
René Bostic is the Technical VP of the IBM Cloud Unit in North America. Enjoying her career with IBM during the modern millennial technological era, she is an expert in cloud computing, DevOps and emerging cloud technologies such as Blockchain. Her strengths and core competencies include a proven record of accomplishments in consensus building at all levels to assess, plan, and implement enterprise and cloud computing solutions. René is a member of the Society of Women Engineers (SWE) and a m...
DXWordEXPO New York 2018, colocated with CloudEXPO New York 2018 will be held November 11-13, 2018, in New York City and will bring together Cloud Computing, FinTech and Blockchain, Digital Transformation, Big Data, Internet of Things, DevOps, AI, Machine Learning and WebRTC to one location.
In an era of historic innovation fueled by unprecedented access to data and technology, the low cost and risk of entering new markets has leveled the playing field for business. Today, any ambitious innovator can easily introduce a new application or product that can reinvent business models and transform the client experience. In their Day 2 Keynote at 19th Cloud Expo, Mercer Rowe, IBM Vice President of Strategic Alliances, and Raejeanne Skillern, Intel Vice President of Data Center Group and G...
DXWorldEXPO LLC announced today that All in Mobile, a mobile app development company from Poland, will exhibit at the 22nd International CloudEXPO | DXWorldEXPO. All In Mobile is a mobile app development company from Poland. Since 2014, they maintain passion for developing mobile applications for enterprises and startups worldwide.
Founded in 2000, Chetu Inc. is a global provider of customized software development solutions and IT staff augmentation services for software technology providers. By providing clients with unparalleled niche technology expertise and industry experience, Chetu has become the premiere long-term, back-end software development partner for start-ups, SMBs, and Fortune 500 companies. Chetu is headquartered in Plantation, Florida, with thirteen offices throughout the U.S. and abroad.
DXWorldEXPO | CloudEXPO are the world's most influential, independent events where Cloud Computing was coined and where technology buyers and vendors meet to experience and discuss the big picture of Digital Transformation and all of the strategies, tactics, and tools they need to realize their goals. Sponsors of DXWorldEXPO | CloudEXPO benefit from unmatched branding, profile building and lead generation opportunities.