The inability to see into a bill as its taking shape versus paying it after its reached runaway heights is a common complaint of major cloud computing users. Several startups have attempted to address the issue, each in a different way. They include Apptio, Cloudyn, Uptime Software, 6Fusion, and CloudCruiser.
Cloudability is giving companies the means to automatically aggregate individual accounts into a company-wide bill, then segregate groups of users within that bill.
The "tribes" feature recently became available after several months of beta testing. It is not available with Cloudability's frequently used, free online service offering. Rather, it is part of its high end Enterprise service that is available for a fee, calculated as a percentage of the total cloud bill your company is generating. For example, a $25,000 a month cloud bill would result in a Cloudability service subscription of $250 a month, said Mat Ellis, CEO, in an interview.
While cloud users, even from the same company, have individual accounts, Cloudability has software that detects that a new user is part of a larger group or identifiable company by examining its email pattern or company network origin. It queries the user to specify and join the project team or group that he is most closely affiliated with. Cloudability can then report on the group as a whole. When the manager of the group enters a budgeted amount per month, Cloudability can warn him when it appears the group is projected to go over its limit.
[ Want to learn more about how to judge what you're spending in the cloud versus traditional on-premises IT? See Cloud's Thorniest Question: Does It Pay Off? ]
The system sends email reports to both individual and group accounts to show daily usage and how that usage is trending in terms of a monthly budget. When the trend shows the account will exceed its budget before the end of the month, the background in the report's daily usage box turns red. By checking his cloud expense figure, a manager quickly knows if everything is on track expense-wise or whether he needs to start looking for excess usage culprits.
Members within the group may be using different services, such as both software as a service and platform as a service at Salesforce.com. The reporting mechanism can combine the costs of the different services to produce a figure for the group, said Ellis.
An operations manager, granted authority over a set of users, can look through individual accounts to compare typical use with above average use. He does that by downloading to Cloudability encrypted email addresses that are members of his group. Automated software can check for details on each member and send a report to the manager. "When the box goes red, you can get a sense of who's doing what," Ellis said.
If the manager decides it's appropriate, he can set a limit for individual users and get an alert when their trend line shows they're likely to exceed budget before the end of the month. "It's up to managers when to start bugging users," he added.
The Cloudability also aggregates charges across different cloud services if they're being levied against one group, allowing a composite charge that relates to the group's budget to be built up, Ellis said.
Cloudability partners with Rackspace, where its expense monitoring service is available free to all customers. It can also be employed with Salesforce.com, Amazon Web Services, Heroku, Google Apps, github, Akamai, MailChimp and several other providers.
Expertise, automation, and silo busting are all required, say early adopters of private clouds. Also in the new, all-digital Private Clouds: Vision Vs. Reality issue of InformationWeek: How to choose between OpenStack and CloudStack for your private cloud. (Free with registration.)