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Cloud pricing: Are per-second billing models really needed?

  • Now, there are so many services being offered by each cloud provider – and each has its own pricing model behind it – that anyone wanting to put together a cloud architecture could be forgiven for tearing their hair out as they work out what is required.
  • Cloud tended to start off with per-hour pricing, which has then been lowered to per-minute charging as more granular workloads have come through – but does per-second really offer anything of value to a customer?
  • Oracle chairman and chief technology officer Larry Ellison has announced a cloud pricing programme that includes what the supplier calls “bring your own licence to PaaS” and “universal credits”.
  • Without forcing a square use case into a round cloud hole, I fail to see just how per-second pricing can really add anything to a cloud model, and cannot think of a workload which is sensitive to per-second loadings: sure, there are plenty (such as those in financial trading) where…
  • With Oracle having tweaked its pricing model to make AWS twice as expensive as Oracle’s own cloud for licences, it’s pretty much a slam dunk that it can promise the 50% savings – at the licence level.

Clive Longbottom looks at the growing complexity of cloud pricing models, and weighs up the value of per-second billing.

In the early days, there was a lot more simplicity around cloud pricing. When there were only a few different services, it was easy for the likes of Amazon Web Services (AWS) to just say “this is how much it costs – click here, submit credit card details and you’re off”.

Now, there are so many services being offered by each cloud provider – and each has its own pricing model behind it – that anyone wanting to put together a cloud architecture could be forgiven for tearing their hair out as they work out what is required.

As a relatively basic example, let’s take a look at what an overall workload could potentially consist of, by breaking down the server, network and storage requirements.

Each area has a possible impact on the overall price – and this is before considering whether pricing is going to be calculated per transaction, per volume of data stored/transferred, per user per month or whatever metric the cloud provider wants to push.

Even when a contract has been signed, it is not the end of the problem. The cloud providers are vying with each other through continuously lowering prices, and unwary customers can find themselves tied into high costs as prices tumble around them.

There are also new cost models being brought in, and the financial acumen of a technical person can be tested beyond breaking point.

An example of this is…

Cloud pricing: Are per-second billing models really needed?