Regain your visibility and control over cloud computing costs

Cloud computing is fundamentally changing the ways that IT resources are made available to the business units and individual workers who really need them. With instant provisioning, departments can get what they need immediately. Unfortunately that means that the CIO and CFO have lost visibility to the costs that are incurred for these resources. Now a service called Cloud Cruiser is bringing visibility and control back to the CIO without placing restrictions on departmental use of cloud services.

When cloud computing was in its infancy, proponents raised interest in the technology by telling companies they could save money by running their applications on infrastructure they didn't own or operate. In fact, some companies wouldn't even need their own data center anymore! Amazon, or Rackspace or some other service provider, could provide all the computing capacity a company could ever want. And SaaS providers could deliver ready-to-use enterprise applications that companies could rent by the month.

With a value proposition like that, some companies started to jump on the bandwagon, using cloud computing in all its forms. Software, security, infrastructure, platforms -- all delivered as a convenient service.

But the downside involved losing visibility and control over computing. Now, departments and even individuals can engage a cloud service without the approval or even the knowledge of the IT department.

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Before the onslaught of the cloud, everything went through IT. The CIO knew the capacity that everybody was using, and the CFO could see the cost for each department. Now people get their credit cards out and buy services and capacity as they are needed. As a result, there is no centralized financial view across any of this. Ask a CFO if cloud computing is saving the company money and the likely answer will be, "I don't know."

Cloud Cruiser is a financial management solution that brings a company's total IT resources into view again. This includes resources deployed in a public cloud, in a private cloud, in a hybrid environment and in a traditional IT environment. Cloud Cruiser provides a central repository for all IT spending, allowing the CFO and CIO to see their usage and get control over their costs. This intelligent cost information is the missing link to help companies truly save money with cloud computing.

If you look at a cloud provider like Amazon, they only understand how to bill to individual users, even if multiple people from a single company are buying services from the same provider. Cloud Cruiser pulls an entire company's data from the cloud provider, consolidates the bills and then charges back the departmental charges instead of having individuals pay the bills. Cloud Cruiser's collector can tap into the provider's billing data for individual users or multiple users and then associate the information with the right departments and take care of the internal billing.

One needs to look no further than an application development group to find a perfect use case. Individual developers may deploy resources to a public cloud, such as for testing purposes. The individuals just keep getting billed on their corporate accounts and real money is going out the door, whether or not these cloud instances are actively being used. When the department reviews workers' expense reports and sees it has 10 developers and each of them is contracting individually for cloud resources, the department head wants to get some sort of visibility into this so they can minimize their costs. Certainly the CFO and the CIO want visibility but the individual departments want visibility too because sometimes individuals are not being responsible for their uses of the public cloud resources.

Cloud Cruiser also can function as a chargeback system for internal IT resources, such as a private cloud or traditional IT services. CIOs use Cloud Cruiser, not only as the financial arm of the private cloud, but as a central repository for all IT spending. Cloud Cruiser touts what it calls the "see it, charge it, own it, control it" strategy of cost management.

"See it" refers to cost transparency -- allowing a company to see all of its costs across all IT usage, whether it's internal or external. "Charge it" stands for cost accountability and being able to charge individual users and business units for the resources they use.

"Own it" refers to cost empowerment. Cloud Cruiser providers its customers with their own personal portal where they can view their IT usage this week, month or quarter. Customers get extensive analytics and business intelligence so they can look at their cost trends and their gross rates. If they have a question about their bill, they can double-click and look at all the usage they have incurred. It allows the business to really understand and shape their usage.

And finally, "control it" means cost control. Cloud Cruiser lets a company set budgets for each department, forecast the use of IT resources, and watch all the actual usage by department. If a particular group is on a track to exceed their budget for a given time period, they can be alerted to the fact. This helps the department make a decision to scale back or accept the overage.

Cloud computing really can save a company money -- but corporate leaders have to have good visibility into costs and how to control them. Cloud Cruiser provides those capabilities across all environments.

Linda Musthaler is a principal analyst with Essential Solutions Corporation. You can write to her at


About Essential Solutions Corp:

Essential Solutions researches the practical value of information technology, and how it can make individual workers and entire organizations more productive. Essential Solutions offers consulting services to computer industry and corporate clients to help define and fulfill the potential of IT.

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