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Regain your visibility and control over cloud computing costs

IT Best Practices Alert By Linda Musthaler, Network World
June 14, 2013 04:14 PM ET
Linda Musthaler
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Network World - 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.

[ SHADOW IT: Onetime hidden, often hated, but well worth embracing ]

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.

Linda Musthaler is a principal analyst with Essential Solutions Corporation.

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