Sky Dollars

Seven Tools That Quantify Cloud ROI

Sky Dollars“Going to the Cloud” may have implicitly meant saving money for many in 2012, but increasingly, IT has to provide deeper fiscal justification for its cloud strategy if it’s to get buy-in from the business.

Matters are only made more complicated by the emergence of different types of clouds. As I point out in my recent blog post at Network Computing, cloud offerings are becoming more varied. Personal Clouds will replace PCs as the center of our digital lives. Industry-specific clouds are emerging that address specific security and regulatory needs. Metal Lynx, for example, is a cloud community targeting buyers and sellers of precious metals. Verizon is launching its only healthcare-specific cloud targeting those concerned with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).

Appealing to security and regulatory concerns is a good move on the part of these providers since for many buyers, simply selecting cloud services based on ROI can be very, very difficult. This is in large part due to the elasticity of many cloud offerings, such as  Amazon’s Reserved Instance, where numerous factors, such as usage patterns, costs, preferences around utilization level, and commitment term can all impact an organization’s costs.

The good news is: seven vendors are already offering cloud modeling and costing tools for determining the true cost of Cloud services, and how best to utilize on-demand resources. I review them in greater length here, but in brief:

  • 6Fusion allows IT to benchmark existing cloud operations against public services. Its Workload Allocation Cube (WAC) measures the critical compute resources required to operate an x86-based software application
  • Apptio expanded its line of IT monitoring and costing tools in December with Cloud Express, a free, cloud-costing tool.
  • Cloudyn added a tool in the fall that that allows an organization to calculate the number, type, and duration of Reserved Instances a company should purchase to meet its operational requirements.
  • Cloud Cruiser is offering tools for chargeback in enterprises and, more recently, service providers.
  • Cloudability lets you track a wide range of key performance indicators (KPI) and lets you see whether you’re saving money with Reserved Instances.
  • Newvem baselines and tracks the assets, costs, and risks of using a cloud service. The platform is available for Amazon EC2 and Amazon Simple Storage Service (S3) services.
  • Rightscale simulates the cloud deployment to identify costs. You model the deployment and then can identify the cost of elasticity, three-year costing, and can run what-if scenarios.

The potential savings and agility gains offered by Cloud services are too important to IT, but only if IT can get buy-in from management. Demonstrating the real fiscal value — not just the promise — of going to the Cloud is best way to secure that purchase order for more Cloud services.

Image credit: danxoneil (flickr)

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  • Omar Amin

    How do these tools reconcile with Dave Linthicum’s comments on ROI tools? http://www.infoworld.com/d/cloud-computing/why-cloud-computing-roi-tools-are-worthless-210536

    • DaveGreenfieldSilverPeak

      Very well, actually.  Linthicum’s point is that you have to look beyond software/hardware and consider other factors specific to your business. No argument there. These tools provide part of that answer, but only part. You still need to factor in  the value of something as amorphous as “increased agility” , which will vary based on the business and  process. Does that help?