New in ParkMyCloud: Park Azure Scale Sets

Today, we are happy to announce that you can now park Azure scale sets – allowing you to optimize costs for these groups of Microsoft Azure virtual machines.

Use other public clouds? You can park those scale groups, too. A few weeks ago, we announced GCP Managed Instance Group support, and we have supported AWS auto scaling group for some time.

Back to Azure – let’s take a look at the new functionality.

How You Can Park Azure Scale Sets

In ParkMyCloud, you can now manage and park Azure scale sets, both with and without autoscaling, to turn them off or to a “low” state when not needed to save money. When you set a parking schedule on a scale set, you have the option to set a straightforward “on/off” schedule — when parked, the maximum number of resources is 0 and therefore the group is fully parked. Or if you prefer, set your own preferred number of resources for a “low” rather than “off” state.

While we’re talking to our Microsoft fans — don’t miss the Microsoft Teams bot we made so you can control ParkMyCloud right from your chat window! ChatOps is fun, and this bot can streamline your workday by saving you a trip to the ParkMyCloud console.

ParkMyCloud Users: Enable Scale Sets and Get Parking

Existing users: in order to use Azure scale sets, you must update Azure Service Account permissions, as detailed in the ParkMyCloud User Guide.

Once you’ve done that, you can start parking scale sets. You can filter your dashboard to show only scale groups – on the left menu under “Resources” click “Auto Scaling Groups” to filter to just that type of resource. You can select a group and put a parking schedule on it, just like an individual instance.

As mentioned above, you can customize the amount of resources in the group in the high/low states. For the selected group, click the arrow on the far right to open the resource detail screen. You will be able to set a “desired” value of resources for the group at start and at stop.

Note that if your scale sets have multiple scaling profiles, they won’t be parkable and will be denoted with the “unparkable” icon. The number of “Autoscale Profiles” assigned to an Azure scale set is listed on the resource details screen.

New Users: Get Started

If you don’t use ParkMyCloud yet, it’s easy to get started and start saving 65% or more on your cloud costs. We recently upgraded our 14-day free trial to provide Enterprise tier access, so you’ll get to try out everything from user import/export feature to database parking to SmartParking, with unlimited users, teams, and cloud credentials. Get started now.

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ParkMyCloud Announces Scale Group Parking for Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud Platform

Leading Cloud Cost Optimization Platform Expands Savings on Public Cloud Resources

May 31, 2018 (Dulles, VA) – ParkMyCloud, the leading enterprise platform for continuous cost control in public cloud, announced today that it has released cost optimization support for Microsoft Azure virtual machine scale sets and Google Cloud Platform managed instance groups.

The ParkMyCloud platform helps Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure (Azure), and Google Cloud Platform (GCP) customers save money on cloud resources by automatically integrating cost control into their DevOps processes. ParkMyCloud saves money by scheduling cloud resources to turn off when they are not needed – which they call “parking”.

Azure scale sets and GCP managed instance groups are groups of cloud resources that are frequently used for redundancy and scaling purposes. For testing and development, common practice is to set up a non-production network architecture that mirrors production. All too often, the non-production environment is left running, wasting money on resources that aren’t being used. With ParkMyCloud cost control in place, users can automate “off” or “scaled down” schedules for these resources, ensuring that they only pay for services they are actually using.

“Customers using scale groups in public cloud are typically savvy users who are increasingly cost conscious,” said Bill Supernor, ParkMyCloud CTO. “With each release, we are expanding ParkMyCloud’s automation engine to support the cloud resources our customers are using.  This allows them to easily incorporate cost optimization with their DevOps process.”

Earlier this year, ParkMyCloud released automated usage-based cost optimization called “SmartParking” for AWS, Azure and GCP. In the coming months, ParkMyCloud plans to release support for Alibaba Cloud as well as additional resource types  in AWS, Azure, and GCP.

About ParkMyCloud

ParkMyCloud is a SaaS platform that automatically identifies and eliminates public cloud resource waste, reducing spending by 65% or more — think “Nest for the cloud.” AWS, Azure and Google users such as McDonald’s, Sysco Foods, Unilever, Avid, and Sage Software have used ParkMyCloud to cut their cloud spending by millions of dollars. ParkMyCloud helps companies like these optimize and govern cloud usage by integrating cost control into their DevOps processes. For more information, visit https://www.parkmycloud.com.

Contact

Katy Stalcup

kstalcup@parkmycloud.com

(571) 334-3291

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Don’t Let Orphaned Volumes and Resources Contribute to Cloud Waste

Maybe you’re familiar with the ways idle instances contribute to cloud waste, but orphaned volumes and other resources also go easily-missed, needlessly increasing your monthly bill. Since the cloud is a pay-as-you-go utility, it’s easy to lose visibility of specific infrastructure costs and discover charges for resources you aren’t even using. Here’s how orphaned resources contribute to cloud waste, and what you can do do about it.

How Orphaned Volumes are Eating Your Budget

The gist of it: When you shut down or terminate an instance or VM, you deal with orphaned volumes and snapshots of those or other volumes, unattached to servers and continuing to incur monthly $/GB charges.

Let’s take the example of AWS EC2. You’ve stopped all of your AWS EC2 instances, but you’re still getting charged monthly for Amazon EBS storage and accruing charges for unused instances. This happens because even though you didn’t leave your instances running (*high five*), you’re still getting charged for EBS storage in GB per month for the amount provisioned to your account. While EC2 instances only accrue charges while they’re running, EBS volumes attached to those instances retain information and continue charging you even after an instance has been stopped.

How to Reduce Waste from Orphaned Volumes

To save your data without paying monthly for the storage volume, you can take a snapshot of the volume as a backup and then delete the original volume. You’ll still be charged for EBS snapshots, but they’re billed at a lower rate and you still have the option to restore the volume from the snapshot if you need it later. EBS volume snapshots are backed up to S3. They’re compressed and therefore save storage, but do keep in mind that the initial snapshot is of the entire volume, and depending on how frequently you take subsequent (incremental) snapshots, your total could end up taking as much space the first snapshot.

When you no longer need these snapshots, Amazon’s user guide has instructions for how to delete EBS volumes and EBS snapshots.

Similar to EBS, Azure offers Managed Disks as a storage service for VMs and provides backups of persistent disks. But while EBS volume snapshots are compressed and also include incremental backups, therefore taking up less storage, Azure only takes full point-in-time snapshots, which can become costly when you can take as many snapshots as you want from the same Managed Disk.

If you’re using Google Cloud Platform, then Compute Engine also provides backups of persistent disks with instructions for create, restore, and delete snapshots. Like EBS snapshots, Google’s persistent disk snapshots are automatically compressed and also include incremental backups, saving storage space. The benefits (and risks) are the same as the other cloud providers e.g. lower bills and less storage costs, but you will still need to ensure that your snapshotting strategy does not leave you exposed to risk.

Watch Out for Other Orphaned Resources

Moral of the story: delete snapshots that you don’t need from terminated instances and VMs. It’s easy to see how a small feature that is supposed to save you money can end up forgotten, costing you money for resources you’re not using.

Orphaned volumes and snapshots are just one example of how orphaned resources can result in unnecessary charges. Others include:

  • Unassociated IPs (AWS – Elastic IPs);
  • Load Balancers (with no instances);
  • Unused machine images; and
  • Object Storage.

Don’t let orphaned volumes, snapshots, and other forgotten resources drive up your cloud bill. Put a stop to cloud waste by eliminating orphaned resources and inactive storage, saving space, time, and money in the process.

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New Microsoft Teams Bot to Control Cloud Costs

Today we’d like to announce a new Microsoft Teams bot that allows you to fully interact with ParkMyCloud directly through your chat window, without having to access the web GUI. By combining this chatbot with a direct notifications feed of any ParkMyCloud activities through our webhook integration, you can manage your continuous cost control from the Microsoft Teams channels you live in every day — making it easy to save 65% or more on your instance costs.

Organizations who are utilizing DevOps principles are increasingly utilizing ChatOps to manipulate their environments and provide a self-service platform to access the servers and databases they require for their work. There are a few different chat systems and bot platforms available – we also have a chat bot for Slack – but one that is growing rapidly in popularity is Microsoft Teams.

By setting up the Microsoft Teams bot to interact with your ParkMyCloud account, you can allow users to:

  • Assign schedules
  • Temporarily override schedules on parked instances
  • Toggle instances to turn off or on as needed

Combine this with notifications from ParkMyCloud, and you can have full visibility into your cost control initiatives right from your standard Microsoft Teams chat channels. Notifications allow you to have ParkMyCloud post messages for things like schedule changes or instances that are being turned off automatically.

Now, with the new ParkMyCloud Teams bot, you can reply back to those notifications to:

  • Snooze the schedule
  • Turn a system back on temporarily
  • Assign a new schedule.

The chatbot is open-source, so you can feel free to modify the bot as necessary to fit your environment or use cases. It’s written in NodeJS using the botbuilder library from Microsoft, but even if you’re not a NodeJS expert, we tried to make it easy to edit the commands and responses. We’d love to have you send your ideas and modifications back to us for rapid improvement.

If you haven’t already signed up for ParkMyCloud to help save you 65% on your cloud bills, then start a free trial and get the Microsoft Teams bot hooked up for easy ChatOps control. You’ll find that ParkMyCloud can make continuous cost control easy and help reduce your cloud spend, all while integrating with your favorite DevOps tools.

 

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Why the Advantages of Multi-Cloud May Not Outweigh the Challenges

The time is ripe to take a fresh look at the advantages of multi-cloud. In the past 12 months, we’ve seen a huge increase in the number of our customers who use multiple public clouds – now more than 20% of our customers use multiple public clouds. With this trend in mind, we wanted to take a look at the positives of a multi-cloud strategy as well as the risks – because of course there’s no “easy button.”

What is Multi-Cloud?

First off, let’s define multi-cloud. Clearly, we’re talking about using one or more clouds, but clouds come in different flavors. For example, multi-cloud incorporates the idea of hybrid cloud – a mix of public and private Clouds. But multi-cloud can also mean two or more public clouds or two or more private clouds.

According to the RightScale 2018 State of the Cloud Report, 81% of Enterprises have a multi-cloud strategy:

What are the advantages of multi-cloud?

So why are businesses heading this direction with their infrastructure? Simple reasons include the following:

  • Risk Mitigation – create resilient architectures
  • Managing vendor lock-in – get price protection
  • Optimization – place your workloads to optimize for cost and performance
  • Cloud providers’ unique capabilities – take advantage of offerings in AI, IOT, Machine Learning, and more

When I asked our CTO what he sees as the advantages of a multi-cloud strategy, he highlighted risk management. ParkMyCloud’s own platform was born in the cloud, we run on AWS, we have a multi-region architecture with redundancy (let’s call this multi-cloud ‘light’), and if we went multi-cloud we would leverage another public cloud for risk mitigation.

Specifically, risk management from the perspective of one vendor having an infrastructure meltdown or attack. AWS had an issue about 15 months ago year when S3 was offline in US-East-1 region for 5+ hours affecting many companies, large and small, and software from web apps to smartphones apps were affected (including ours). There have also been issues of certain AWS regions getting a DDoS attack that have affected service availability.

Having a backup to another cloud service provider (CSP) or Private Cloud in these cases could have ensured 100% uptime. In the case of Alibaba and other cloud vendors, they may have a much stronger presence in certain geographic regions due to a long term presence. When any of the vendors just start getting a toe-hold in a region, their environment has minimal redundancy and safeguards in place that provide the desired high-availability, so another provider in the same region may be safer from that availability perspective.

Do the advantages of multi-cloud outweigh the challenges?

Now let’s say you want to go multi-cloud, what does this mean to you? From our own experience integrating with AWS, Azure, and Google Cloud, we’ve seen that each cloud has its own set of interfaces and own challenges. It is not a “write once, runs everywhere” situation between the vendors, and any cloud or network management utility system needs to do the work to provide deep integration with each CSP.  

Further, the nuances of configuring and managing each CSP require both broad and deep knowledge, and it is rare to find employees with the essential expertise for multiple clouds – so more staff is needed to manage multi-cloud with confidence that it is being done in a way that is both secure and highly available. With everyone trying to play catch-up with AWS, and with AWS itself evolving at a breakneck pace, it is very difficult for an individual or organization to best utilize one CSP, let alone multiple clouds.

Things like a common container environment can help mitigate these issues somewhat by isolating engineers from the nuances of virtual machine management, but the issues of network, infrastructure, cost optimization, security, and availability remain very CSP-specific.

On paper there are advantages of having a multi-cloud strategy. In practice, like many things, it ain’t easy.

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Why Your Spring Cleaning Should Include Unused Cloud Resources

Given that spring is very much in the air – at least it is here in Northern Virginia – our attention has turned to tidying up the yard and getting things in good shape for summer. While things are not so seasonally-focused in the world of cloud, the metaphor of taking time out to clean things up applies to unused cloud resources as well. We have even seen some call this ‘cloud pruning’ (not to be confused with the Japanese gardening method).

Cloud pruning is important for improving both cost and performance of your infrastructure. So what are some of the ways you can go about cleaning up, optimizing, and ensuring that our cloud environments are in great shape?

Delete Old Snapshots

Let’s start with focusing on items that we no longer need. One of the most common types of unused cloud resources is old Snapshots. These are your old EBS volumes on AWS, your storage disks (blobs) on Azure, and persistent disks on GCP. If you have had some form of backup strategy then it’s likely that you will understand the need to manage the number of snapshots you keep for a particular volume, and the need to delete older, unneeded snapshots. Cleaning these up immediately helps save on your storage costs and there are a number of best practices documenting how to streamline this process as well as a number of free and paid-for tools to help support this process.

Delete Old Machine Images

A Machine Image provides the information required to launch an instance, which is a virtual server in the cloud. In AWS these are called AMIs, in Azure they’re called Managed Images, and in GCP Custom Images. When these images are no longer needed, it is possible to deregister them. However, depending on your configuration you are likely to continue to incur costs, as typically the snapshot that was created when the image was first created will continue to incur storage costs. Therefore, if you are finished with an AMI, be sure to ensure that you also delete its accompanying snapshot. Managing your old AMIs does require work, but there are a number of methods to streamline these processes made available both by the cloud providers as well as third-party vendors to manage this type of unused cloud resources.

Optimize Containers

With the widespread adoption of containers in the last few years and much of the focus on their specific benefits, few have paid attention to ensuring these containers are optimized for performance and cost. One of the most effective ways to maximize the benefits of containers is to host multiple containerized application workloads within a single larger instance (typically large or x-large VM) rather than on a number of smaller, separate VMs. In particular, this is something you would could utilize in your dev and test environments rather than in production, where you may just have one machine available to deploy to. As containerization continues to evolve, services such as AWS’s Fargate are enabling much more control of the resources required to run your containers beyond what is available today using traditional VMs. In particular, the ability to specify the exact CPU and memory your code requires (and thus the amount you pay) scales exactly with how many containers you are running.

So alongside pruning your trees or sweeping your deck and taking care of your outside spaces this spring, remember to take a look around your cloud environment and look for opportunities to remove unused cloud resources to optimize not only for cost, but also performance.

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How to Use Google Preemptible VMs to Get 80% Savings

Google Cloud has always had a knack for non-standard virtual machines, and their option of creating Google preemptible VMs is no different. Traditional virtual machines are long-running servers with standard operating systems that are only shut down when you say they can be shut down. On the other hand, preemptible VMs last no longer than 24 hours and can be stopped on a moment’s notice (and may not be available at all). So why use them?

Use Cases for Google Preemptible VMs

As with most trade-offs, the biggest reason is cost. Preemptible VMs can save you up to 80% compared to a normal on-demand virtual machine. (By the way – AWS users will want to use Spot Instances for the same reason, and Azure users can check out Low Priority VMs). This is a huge savings if the workload you’re trying to run consists of short-lived processes or things that are not urgent and can be done any time. This can include things like financial modeling, rendering and encoding, and even some parts of your CI/CD pipeline or code testing framework.

How to Create a Google Preemptible VM

To create a preemptible VM, you can use the Google Cloud Platform console, the ‘gcloud’ command line tool, or the Google Cloud API. The process is the same as creating a standard VM: you select your instance size, networking options, disk setup, and SSH keys, with the one minor change that you enable the ‘preemptible’ flag during setup. The other change you’ll want to make is to create a shutdown script to decide what happens to your processes and data if the instance is stopped without your knowledge. This script can even perform different actions if the instance was preempted as opposed to shut down from something you did.

One nice benefit of Google preemptible VMs is the ability to attach local SSD drives and GPUs to the instances. This means you can get added extensibility and performance for the workload that you are running, while still saving money. You can also have preemptible instances in a managed instance group for high scalability when the instances are available. This can help you process more of your jobs at once when the preemptible virtual machines are able to run.

How to Use Google Preemptible VMs to Optimize Costs

Our customers who have the most cost-effective use of Google resources often mix Google preemptible VMs with other instance types based on the workloads. For instance, production systems that need to be up 24/7 can buy committed-use discounts for up to 57% savings on those servers. Non-production systems, like dev, test, QA, and staging, can use on-demand resources with schedules managed by ParkMyCloud to save 65%. Then, any batch workloads or non-urgent jobs can use Google preemptible VMs to run whenever available for up to 80% savings. Questions about optimizing cloud costs? We’re happy to help – email us or use the chat client on this page (staffed by real people, including me!).

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New in ParkMyCloud: Park GCP Groups, Schedule Override, New Trial Experience, and More

Today, we share the latest update in ParkMyCloud, which highlights new types of GCP resources you can park, and updates for new and existing users alike.

Park GCP Groups

Now in ParkMyCloud, you can manage and optimize costs for your GCP Managed Instance Groups, both with and without Autoscaling. You can set parking schedules on these groups, but rather than simply turning them “on” and “off”, you can set “high” and “low” stages for your groups, for which you set a maximum and minimum number of resources, respectively. Some additional details:

  • GCP Managed Groups with Autoscaling can have a minimum size of 1 instance in the Low/Off state, and thus they can never be fully shut off to zero instances.
  • GCP Managed Groups without Autoscaling can have a minimum size of 0 instances in the Low/Off state, and can be fully shut off.
  • The Console will show the members of GCP Unmanaged Groups as “regular” resources, allowing them to be scheduled/controlled individually. You wish to assign them to ParkMyCloud Logical Groups in order to start and stop them as a set.

In order to allow ParkMyCloud to support management of GCP Instance Groups, please update your ParkMyCloud Access Role to include the latest set of permissions defined here in the User Guide.

What about other cloud service providers? ParkMyCloud already supports parking for AWS Auto Scaling groups. Management of Azure’s equivalent, Azure scale sets, is coming later this month.

Schedule “Snooze” is now “Override”

ParkMyCloud has long allowed you to “snooze” parking schedules — as in, snooze the on/off actions of the schedule, not the resource. But it was confusing — when people heard “snooze”, they incorrectly assumed it meant, “put the resource to sleep”.

So we’ve renamed it “override”. When you override a schedule on a resource, you can set it to your preferred state of running or parked, either for a set duration (e.g., override the schedule for 3 hours) or until a set time (e.g., override the schedule until 8:00 a.m. on May 16). After that time, normal schedule actions will resume.

For Existing Users…

This release includes a number of other updates that will interest existing users of ParkmyCloud:

    • Recommendations Export: The recommendations screen can now be exported to CSV, via a new Export button, for easy sharing and analysis.
    • Online Help: Each page on the console now has a “?” link to context-sensitive help from the PMC User Guide.
    • Teams: Superadmins now appear as greyed-out users on all team lists, showing their visibility into all teams.
    • Notifications: User-level notifications are now more obvious with a link from the org/team-level notifications screen.
  • Resources Screen:
    • The Schedule/Start/Stop/Team/Group buttons are now always visible, and only enabled when appropriate instances are checked, depending on the function of the button.
    • The resources screen is now more mobile-device friendly. There used to be an issue with how the screen scrolled, which is now fixed.
    • Performance improvements for customers with large numbers of schedules and recommendations.

For New Users…

Don’t tell the existing users above, but we’ve improved the ParkMyCloud free trial for new users. When you start a 14-day free trial, you will now be given Enterprise tier access to the product – that means unlimited instances, teams, users, and cloud accounts across providers in your trial ParkMyCloud account, access to the user import/export feature, database parking, SmartParking, and more. Check it out with a free trial.

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5 Ways to Get Discounts on Cloud Resources

Whether you’re just getting started on public cloud, or you’ve gotten a bill that blew your budget out of the water, it’s a good idea to research ways to get discounts on cloud resources. There’s no reason to pay list price when so many cost-savings measures are available (and your peers are probably taking advantage of them!) Here are our top five ways to get discounts on cloud.

1. Buy in Advance

By purchasing your compute power in advance, you can get a discounted rate — the notable examples being AWS Reserved Instances, Azure Reserved Instances, and Google Committed Use Discounts.

So will these save you money? Actually, that’s a great question. There are several factors that weigh into the answer:

  • How much you pay upfront (for example AWS offers all-upfront, partial-upfront, or no-upfront)
  • Contract term: 1-year or 3-year term – the longer term will save more, but there’s risk involved in committing for that long
  • If the cloud provider cuts their prices during your contract term (and they probably will), you’ll save less

This blog post about AWS Reserved Instances digs into these issues further. Bottom line: paying in advance can save you money, but proceed with caution.

2. Use Your Resources More

The primary example of “spending more to save more” in the cloud computing world is Google Sustained Use Discounts. This is a cool option for automatic savings – as long as you use an instance for at least 25% of the month, GCP will charge you less than list price.

But just like the advanced purchasing options above, there are several factors to account for before assuming this will really save you “up to 60%” of the cost. It may actually be better to just turn off your resources when you’re not using them – more in this post about Google Sustained Use Discounts.

3. If You’re Big: Enterprise Agreements and Volume Discounts

Anyone who’s shopped at Costco isn’t surprised that buying in bulk can get you a discount. Last week, Twitter announced that it will be using Google Cloud Platform for cold data storage and flexible compute Hadoop clusters — at an estimated list price of $10,000,000/month. Of course, it’s unthinkable that they would actually pay that much – as such a high-profile customer, Twitter is likely to have massive discounts on GCP’s list prices. We often hear from our Azure customers that they chose Azure due to pre-existing Microsoft Enterprise Agreements that give them substantial discounts.

If you have or foresee a large volume of infrastructure costs, make sure to look into:

4. If You’re Small: Startup Credits

Each of the major cloud providers offers free credit programs to startups to lure them and get locked in on their services – but that’s not a bad thing. We’ve talked to startups focused on anything from education to location services who have gotten their money’s worth out of these credits while they focus on growth.

If you work for a startup, check out:

5. Wait

So far, history tells us that if you wait a few months, your public cloud provider will drop their prices, giving you a built-in discount.

If you stick with the existing resource types, rather than flocking to the newer, shinier models, you should be all set. The same AWS m1.large instance that cost $0.40/hour in 2008 now goes for $0.175. We’ll just say that’s not exactly on pace with inflation.

It’s Okay if You Don’t Get Discounts on Cloud

What if you’re not a startup, you’re not an enterprise, and you just need some regular compute and database infrastructure now? Should you worry if you don’t get discounts on cloud list prices? No sweat. Even by paying list price, it’s still possible to optimize your spend. Make sure you’re combing through your bill every so often to find orphaned or unused resources that need to be deleted.

Additionally, right-size your resources and turn them off when you’re not using them to pay only for what you actually need – you’ll save money, even without a discount.

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Alibaba Cloud Market Share 2018: The Next Big Cloud Provider?

After reviewing Q1 earnings for the ‘big three’ cloud providers last week, it’s obvious AWS is still number one overall. While the other CSPs are growing faster than expected, what about the Alibaba cloud market share? Alibaba made big waves in Asia, dominating in China with accelerating cloud revenue. Here’s the deal with Alibaba Cloud, and why it should not be overlooked in 2018.

Alibaba Cloud at a Glance

Following, Amazon, Google, and Microsoft, Alibaba made headlines of its own when they reported cloud revenue for the March quarter:

Here’s what the quarterly earnings report tells us:

  • Alibaba’s annual cloud revenue reached $2.1 billion for the quarter, up 103 percent.
    • In comparison, AWS growth was at 49 percent for the same period, although Alibaba’s cloud revenue can’t quite compare with the $5.4 billion AWS generated in the fourth quarter.
  • Cloud computing revenue saw 101 percent year-over-year growth for fiscal 2018.
  • Alibaba´s IaaS segment is dominating in China, with almost 47.6 percent of the market share, up from 43 percent only a year ago, crediting growth from recent customer additions and value added products.

What’s clear:

Alibaba is growing its market presence, not only with a firm hold over Asia, but also securing a spot as one of the top five cloud providers worldwide. Synergy Research Group reported Q1 2018 market share numbers: Amazon 33%, Microsoft 13%, IBM 8%, Google 6% and Alibaba 4%.

In comparison to other cloud providers, Alibaba might be in last place among the top five, but they also show consistently steady, upward growth, and land only a hair shy of catching up to Google at 6 percent. And while AWS has a third of the total market share, Alibaba holding onto nearly half of China’s market share is nothing to scoff at.

Not to mention the company added 316 new products and features to their cloud platform in the fourth quarter alone, added a data center in Indonesia, and acquired or partnered with major enterprise customers including China National Petroleum Corporation, Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation, and Cathay Pacific, showing no signs of slowing down anytime soon.  

Alibaba Cloud Market Share – 2018 and Beyond:

The opening of a data center in Indonesia expanded Alibaba Cloud’s reach to 18 countries and regions worldwide, setting their sights high and with the expectation of continued growth. If that’s not a clear indication of future success, the outlook of company executives sheds more light.

Daniel Zhang, CEO of Alibaba Group, says “Alibaba Group had an excellent quarter and fiscal year, driven by robust growth in our core commerce business and investments we have made over the past several years in longer-term growth initiatives. […] During the past year we also doubled down on technology development, cloud computing, logistics, digital entertainment and local services so that we are in a position to capture consumption growth in China and other emerging markets.”

Maggie Wu, CFO of Alibaba Group, echoes this sentiment, saying “Looking ahead to fiscal 2019, we expect overall revenue growth above 60%, reflecting our confidence in our core business as well as positive momentum in new businesses. We expect our new growth initiatives will drive long-term, sustainable value for our customers and partners and increase our total addressable market.”

So as the Alibaba cloud market share grows, could they be the next big cloud provider in 2018? Will they jump into the ‘big three’ or will it become a ‘big five,’ including IBM’s market share? What we know for sure is that we can expect more growth, and that’s a good thing for all of us because growth drives competition, innovation, and better offerings for all. So while we continue looking at AWS, Azure, Google, and IBM in the next year, we’ll also be keeping an eye on Alibaba Cloud and other up-and-coming providers to see what they bring to the table.  

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Do Google Sustained Use Discounts Really Save You Money?

When looking to keep Google Cloud Platform (GCP) costs in control, the first place users turn are the discount options offered by the cloud service provider itself, such as Google’s Sustained Use discounts. The question is: do Google Sustained Use discounts actually save you money, when you could just turn the instance off?

How Google Sustained Use discounts work

The idea of the Sustained Use discount is that the longer you run a VM instance in any given month, the bigger discount you will get from the list price. The following shows the incremental discount, and its cumulative impact on a hypothetical $100/month VM instance, where the percentages are against the baseline 730-hour month.

I have to say here that the GCP prices listed can be somewhat misleading unless you read the fine print where it says “Note: Listed monthly pricing includes applicable, automatic sustained use discounts, assuming the instance runs for a 730 hour month.”  What this means to us is that the list prices of the instances are actually much higher, but their progressive discount means that no one ever actually pays list price. That said – the list price is what you need to know in order to estimate the actual cost you will pay if you do not plan to leave the instance up for 730 hours/month.

For example, the price shown on the GCP pricing link for an n1-standard-8 instance in the Iowa region is (as of this writing) $194.1800. The list price for this instance would be $194.1800/0.7 = $277.40. This is the figure that must be used as the entry point for the table above to calculate the actual cost, given a certain level of utilization.

What if you parked the VM instance instead?

Here at ParkMyCloud, we’re all about scheduling resources to turn off when you’re not using them, i.e., “parking” them. With this mindset, I wondered about the impact of the sustained use discounts on the schedule-based savings. The following chart plots the cost of that n1-standard-8 VM instance, showing Google sustained use discounts combined with a parking schedule.

We can definitely see progressively more sustained use savings added to progressively less schedule-based savings.  I am sure this would end up getting described as the typical hype of “the more you spend, the more you save!”  But, the reality of the matter must intrude here and show the more you spend…the more you spend!

Looking at what this means for ParkMyCloud users, here is the monthly uptime for a few common parking schedules, and the associated cost:

These are a far cry from the $277.40 list price, and even the $194.18 max discounted price. From this, it can be seen that even with the most wide-open “work day” schedule of 12 hours per weekday, the schedule is barely nudging over the 182.5 hours needed to hit the first price break of 20%. And even then, the 20% discount is only applied to those hours above 182.5 hours. A welcome discount to be sure, but not very enormously impactful to the bottom line.

Another way our users keep these utilization hours low is by keeping their VM instances “always parked” and temporarily overriding the schedule for a set number of hours (such as for an 8-hour workday) when their non-production resources are needed. When the duration of the override expires, the instance is automatically shut down. Giving the best possible savings, and usually never even hitting the first GCP discount tier.

Do Google Sustained Use discounts save you money?

In short: definitely! At least, they do save you money over the price listed by Google. Do they save you the maximum amount of money possible? No, not if it’s a non-production VM instance that is only needed during a regular workday (although it’s close).

To get the optimal savings on your resources, keep them running only when you’re actually using them, and park them when you’re not. If you meet the threshold of 25% usage for the month, Google’s Sustained Use discounts will kick in, and further lower your cost from the list price. These two savings options combined will optimize your costs and provide the maximum savings.

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AWS vs Azure vs Google Cloud Market Share 2018: Is AWS Still in the Lead?

Q1 earnings are in for the ‘big three’ cloud providers and you know what that means – it’s time for an AWS vs Azure vs Google Cloud market share comparison. Let’s take a look at all three providers side-by-side to see where they stand.

Are Azure and Google catching up to AWS?

As they’ve been known to do, Amazon, Google, and Microsoft all released their quarterly earnings reports around the same time over this past week, giving us an opportunity to look at the big picture. Before we dive in, let’s take a look at the headlines for the media interpretation of the AWS vs Azure vs Google Cloud Market Share:

Here’s what the quarterly earning reports tell us:

  • AWS, the longest-standing cloud provider of the three, has managed to maintain its growth rate with a 49 percent increase to $5.44 bn for the quarter.
  • Meanwhile, Microsoft is picking up speed and picking up share. While Microsoft did not break down cloud profits for Azure specifically, they reported that Azure alone made impressive revenue growth at 93 percent. This was slightly down from 98 percent growth last quarter.
  • Microsoft’s Intelligent Cloud division as a whole, which includes Azure, went up 17 percent to $7.9bn.
  • Alphabet, Google’s parent company, released quarterly earnings for Google, but did not break down any cloud revenue. Reported revenue growth was at 26 percent year-over-year to $31.16 billion in Q1. In Q1 of last year, Google revenue growth was at 22 percent between Q1 of 2016 and Q1 of 2017.  
  • Canalys ranked the three providers in terms of market share, with AWS in the lead owning about a third of the market, Microsoft in second with about 15 percent, and Google sitting around 5 percent:

What’s clear:

In the case of AWS vs Azure vs Google Cloud market share – AWS still has the lead.

AWS is maintaining their lead and holding the lion’s share of the market. Could Amazon’s head start in the cloud business still have something to do with it? Jeff Bezos seems to think so:

“AWS had the unusual advantage of a seven-year head start before facing like-minded competition. As a result, the AWS services are by far the most evolved and most functionality-rich.”

Whether it’s true or not, it says something that Microsoft and Google aren’t breaking down their cloud numbers just yet.

Nonetheless, customers do want a choice when it comes to cloud providers. Yes, AWS is still seeing big growth, but Microsoft has sustained high levels of revenue with Azure, narrowing the gap, and suggesting that they might be the cloud provider to give Amazon a run for its money.

And if one thing is for sure – it’s that the cloud isn’t going anywhere. Synergy Research Group reported that the cloud market is still growing. In Q1-Q3 of last year, year-over-year growth was at 45-43 percent for cloud infrastructure services. In Q1 of this year, growth jumped to 51 percent –  Q1 2018 market share numbers are: Amazon 33%, Microsoft 13%, IBM 8%, Google 6% and Alibaba 4%.

AWS vs Azure vs Google Cloud Market Share – And the winner is:

With similar findings to Canalys, Synergy says that the cloud market continues to rapidly expand and AWS still controls a third of the market, being bigger than its next four competitors combined.

“It is particularly notable that growth at AWS has actually accelerated despite its scale. The rapid growth of Microsoft, Google and Alibaba is not causing any drop-off in AWS market share.”

It looks like the story line hasn’t changed just yet. With that said, Amazon is getting some healthy competition from Microsoft, and as the cloud grows, so does customers’ willingness to use other service providers. So while AWS keeps rolling along, we’ll be looking to see what other providers offer in the next quarter, and if their dominance will prevail.

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