As more than 18,000 cloudophiles descend on Las Vegas for AWS re:Invent, it’s easy to forget that most enterprises are operating in a world of heterogeneous infrastructure — public and private clouds, virtualized environments, and bare-metal servers. IT teams are brokering cloud services alongside other infrastructure options to their internal users. Their goal is to place workloads in the lowest-cost environment that meets an application’s requirements. However, determining the most economical cloud pricing isn’t always easy.
Why Cloud Pricing Can Drive You Crazy
Public cloud pricing is complex. By the time you multiply the number of instance sizes by the number of regions and then multiply again by operating system options, the number of price points quickly explodes. Add in a variety of purchase options or discounts from each cloud provider (like AWS Reserved and Spot Instances or Google Sustained Use Discounts and Preemptible VMs) and the number of price points quickly gets out of hand for mere mortals using spreadsheets. RightScale currently tracks and manages more than 100,000 unique price points for compute resources across the top public cloud providers, and that number is growing rapidly.
The complexity doesn’t stop at list prices because enterprise customers often have unique discounts or added costs. For example, organizations may get volume discounts or special pricing when signing up for an enterprise agreement. In addition, when internal IT teams or managed services providers pass on costs to their cloud consumers, they may add markups to cover additional services or overhead on top of the public cloud list prices. Add in prices for private clouds, virtualized environments, and bare-metal servers and life gets even more complicated.
One Repository for All Your Cloud Prices
The new RightScale Cloud Pricing Service provides API access to an up-to-date repository of more than 100,000 current and historical public cloud prices. RightScale customers can apply markups and markdowns to standard prices and track custom price books for their private clouds, virtualized environments, and bare-metal servers. Additionally, customers who have purchased AWS Reserved Instances (RIs) will also be able to access information on their purchased RIs catalog across all of their accounts — there’s no need to log in to each account separately. The RightScale Cloud Pricing Service lets you access all these price points through an API so that you can integrate with other systems and automate processes in RightScale or other applications.
Here are a few common examples of how you can use the Cloud Pricing Service.
Compare Costs and Choose the Lowest Cost Venue
For many workloads there are several viable resource pools that meet an application’s requirements. For example, a testing workload may be approved to run in one of several public clouds or a private cloud. Depending on the tests being run, you might want to deploy different configurations, such as a high-performance configuration for load testing, to give one example. When deploying an application in RightScale, you can use data from the RightScale Cloud Pricing Service to automatically calculate the cost of running the workload in each cloud and choose the lowest cost option automatically.
Direct Deployment Choices Based On Purchased Reserved Instances
One of the greatest challenges for users of AWS RIs is ensuring that the RIs are fully utilized. Many enterprises find that they have unused RIs when cloud users unknowingly deploy into the wrong regions or on the wrong instance sizes. By using data on your existing RI purchases from the Cloud Pricing Service along with current usage information from RightScale, you can define logic to automatically select a region and instance size that aligns with your already purchased RIs.
Automate Choice of AWS Spot Instances or Google Preemptible Virtual Machines
For some applications, such as batch processes, the use of “temporary” instances may be a viable option. These types of instances can be shut down as capacity on the cloud gets tight. AWS offers Spot Instances that have constantly changing prices based on available supply and current demand. Google’s new Preemptible virtual machines offer a fixed discount, but are limited to a maximum of 24 hours of runtime. With the RightScale Cloud Pricing Service, you’ll be able to gain access to standard prices as well as Spot or Preemptible prices. For example, on deployment, you could set up RightScale to automatically choose AWS Spot Instances if the latest Spot prices are significantly lower than the rates for On-Demand or Google Preemptible virtual machines.
Integrate with Your Financial Systems or Spreadsheets
Your finance, accounting, and procurement teams may also need access to the latest cloud prices. With the API you can load information from the RightScale Cloud Pricing Service into your financial systems on a scheduled basis, or you can access prices on an ad hoc basis for analysis in spreadsheets.
How to Get Started
The RightScale Cloud Pricing Service is now available to all users as Early Access. We’d love to hear your feedback and learn more about your use cases for the Cloud Pricing Service. A RightScale account (paid or free) is required to access the API. See our documentation on how to use the API and check out the RightScale Engineering Blog for additional details.