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6/17/2014
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CloudHealth Finds Path To Amazon Savings

CloudHealth Technologies tracks usage of Amazon Web Services and recommends ways to improve service and cut costs.

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Many cloud customers have discovered it is hard to get a comprehensive view into a company's total cloud workload operations. An enterprise will get a bill for all its users, but it's hard to see exactly who they are or what they're doing.

CloudHealth Technologies has produced a new monitoring system designed to collect information from Amazon Web Services and other sources, consolidate it, and then present one picture of operations to the AWS customer. "We've focused on making the cloud understandable for the hardest, most complex companies" that are cloud users, said Joe Kinsella, founder and CTO of CloudHealth, in an interview.

In effect, CloudHealth is trying to be successful as a supplier of IT systems management system in the cloud era in the way an earlier generation of IT systems management proved essential in the datacenter. That generation included the likes of IBM's Tivoli, CA Technologies' UniCenter, Microsoft's System Center, and HP's OpenView. As applications shift from the enterprise into the cloud, these systems are no longer able to track them effectively, Kinsella says.

CloudHealth reporting can break out instances and instance types and show their usage trend-line by the hour, the day, week, month, or year. It can get down into the details of which department uses which accounts for which portions of the bill.

[Want to learn more about how cloud expenses can be tracked? See Cloudability Sheds Light On Cloud Spending.]

CloudHealth also can help do something that many Amazon users say is hard to do, model a Reserved Instance so you pick the type you need. Reserved Instances are commissioned for use over a one-year or three-year period and are charged for at a substantially reduced rate, in exchange for an upfront payment.

Kinsella claims 50 of Amazon's top customers are now CloudHealth users, including Ziff Davis, the online publisher; Acquia, supplier of Drupal; and Cloudera, the Hadoop software company.

When asked specifically about one of Amazon's largest, Netflix, he concedes Netflix is not a CloudHealth customer. As a matter of fact, Kinsella says, it was an ongoing conversation that he had with Netflix engineers that convinced him not everyone would want to make the investment that Netflix made to manage its IT infrastructure in the cloud. "Netflix was the inspiration to me to see how hard it was to manage complex infrastructure in the cloud."

In addition to workloads running as Amazon Machine Images, CloudHealth wants to collect and present feedback on virtual machines running on premises in a private cloud architecture and coordinate that information with that coming from Amazon CloudWatch monitoring. CloudHealth can take information collected by New Relic, AppDynamics, or other modern web application monitoring tools and build it into its reports. It also uses information from open-source configuration and monitoring tools, such as Puppet, Chef, and Nagios.

Kinsella claims CloudHealth can provide capacity and performance reporting that can be used by IT and also by analysts in the office of the CTO or CFO to see how cloud workloads are affecting overall business operations. The user interface on CloudHealth, with its concentration on easily understandable reporting, can be used by mid-level business managers or business unit directors as well as IT managers.

For example, it's confusing to have dozens or hundreds of on-demand accounts at a single company and try to convert some of them to Reserved Instances. Even if you identify the best candidates for Reserved Instances, not every cloud customer understands that an on-demand instance is given a logical location, while an RI is tied to a physical location. The on-demand instance is restricted to those

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Charles Babcock is an editor-at-large for InformationWeek, having joined the publication in 2003. He is the former editor-in-chief of Digital News, former software editor of Computerworld and former technology editor of Interactive Week. He is a graduate of Syracuse ... View Full Bio

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Charlie Babcock
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Charlie Babcock,
User Rank: Author
6/17/2014 | 3:30:29 PM
Someday, multiple public clouds; today, Amazon
CloudHealth plans to span the private/public cloud hybrid cloud operation and reach multiple public clouds. But as of today, it's Amazon Web Services and EC2 oriented.
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