The Cloud Managed Services Market is Growing – and That’s Good for MSPs

Lately, we have been talking to quite a few providers of cloud managed services that play in both the private and public cloud spaces. These conversations have centered around how cloud management needs are evolving as enterprises’ hybrid and multi-cloud needs have accelerated.

Most refer to this market as cloud managed services (for once, no acronym associated), and many of these managed service providers (MSPs) also sell migration services to bring customers from private to public cloud, and cloud services between Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure, and Google Compute Platform (GCP). So these MSPs can help you move your applications to the cloud, sell you the cloud services you’re using, and manage and optimize your cloud services. It’s a rapidly growing market with a lot of M&A activity as MSPs race to provide differentiated cloud managed services that enable them to help enterprises get to market faster, better, and cheaper.

The global cloud managed services market size is expected to reach USD 82.51 billion by 2025, according to a study conducted by Grand View Research, Inc. Enterprises are focusing on their primary business operations, which results in higher cloud managed services adoption. Business services, security services, network services, data center services, and mobility services are major categories in the cloud managed services market. Implementation of these services will help enterprises reduce IT and operations costs and will also enhance productivity of those enterprises.

Taking a step back, I had a look at Wikipedia to make sure we were all aligned on what managed services provider are and cloud management is (cloud managed services):

  • A managed services provider is most often an information technology (IT) services provider that manages and assumes responsibility for providing a defined set of services to its clients either proactively or as the MSP (not the client) determines that services are needed.
  • Cloud management means the software and technologies designed for operating and monitoring applications, data and services residing in the cloud. Cloud management tools help ensure cloud computing-based resources are working optimally and properly interacting with users and other services.

Cloud managed services enable organizations to augment competencies that they lack, or to replace functions or processes that incurred huge recurring costs. These services optimize recurring in-house IT costs, transform IT systems and automate business processes allowing enterprises to achieve their business objectives.

The “net net” is that MSPs providing managed cloud services enable enterprises to adopt and manage their cloud services more efficiently.

In March 2018 Gartner published a Magic Quadrant for Public Cloud Infrastructure Managed Service Providers if your interested to see who they rank as the best of the best in when implementing and operating solutions on AWS, Azure and GCP (note this includes multi-cloud but not hybrid cloud). Several large SI’s are on the list like Accenture, Capgemini, and Deloitte, along with newer born in the cloud pure play MSPs like 2ndWatch, Cloudreach and REANcloud.

What’s interesting to us about this list is the recent M&A activity we have seen with many of these companies, here’s a few we were able to remember over a beer (shout out to Crooked Run Brewery in Sterling, VA):

As you can see, there is a clear bias towards buying “born in the cloud”, public cloud focused MSPs, as that’s where the lack of enterprise expertise lies, and of course the hyper growth is occurring as companies migrate from private to public cloud. Many of these providers started off supporting just AWS, and now need to or have begun supporting Azure and Google as well to support The “big 3” cloud service providers in this new, and emerging multi-cloud world.

MSPs that want to get into the cloud managed services game need to realize the pains are different in the public cloud, and that their focus needs to be on helping enterprises with security and governance, managing cloud spending, the lack of resources/expertise, and the ability to manage multi-cloud.

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Should Your Company Adopt Google’s Site Reliability Engineering Approach?

Over the past year or so, we have spoken with quite a few prospective users who have defined their responsibilities as site reliability engineering (SRE). If, like me, you’re not familiar with the term, I’ll save you the Google search. SRE is a discipline that incorporates aspects of software engineering and applies that to IT operations problems. Practitioners aim to create ultra-scalable and highly reliable software systems. According to Ben Treynor, founder of Google’s Site Reliability Team, SRE is “what happens when a software engineer is tasked with what used to be called operations.” And its origins can also be traced back to 2003 and Google when Ben was hired to lead software engineers to run a production environment.

The site reliability engineering footprint at Google is now larger than 1,500 engineers. Many products have small to medium sized SRE teams supporting them, though not all products do. The SRE processes that have been honed over the years are being used by other, mainly large scale, companies that are also starting to implement this paradigm, including ServiceNow, Microsoft, Apple, Twitter, Facebook, Dropbox, Amazon, Target, IBM, Xero, Oracle, Zalando, Acquia, and GitHub.

The people we talk to on a daily basis are typically charged with operational management of their company’s cloud infrastructure, and thus governing and controlling costs (that’s where we come in). I got to wondering, how is this approached different by, say, a site reliability engineer vs. someone who labels himself as “DevOps”?

How Does Site Reliability Engineering Compare to DevOps?

In simple terms, the difference between SREs and DevOps seems clear based on our conversations with folks. SREs are engineers focused on production environments, while DevOps is a philosophy as well as a role. DevOps folks are definitely less concerned with production vs. non-production, and more concerned with the overall cloud management and operations. Side note, DevOps was coined around 2008, so a SRE actually predates a DevOps engineer.

A site reliability engineer (SRE) will spend up to 50% of their time doing “ops” related work such as issues, on-call, and manual intervention. Since the software system that an SRE oversees is expected to be highly automatic and self-healing, the SRE should spend the other 50% of their time on development tasks such as new features, scaling or automation. The ideal SRE candidate is a highly skilled system administrator with knowledge of code and automation.

When I first encountered it, site reliability engineering just seemed like another buzzword to replace “IT” or “Ops”. As I read more on it, I understand that it’s more about the people and the process and less about the technology. There is rarely a mention of the underlying infrastructure or tools, and it seems like the main requirement is just the desire to improve. With that, you can align your development and operations (funny, right – DevOps) around the discipline of SRE.

Should Your Company Implement a Site Reliability Engineering Approach?

So while all the hype is around implementing DevOps in your organization, should you really be adopting the idea of site reliability engineering? It certainly makes sense based on the name alone, as “site reliability” is synonymous with “business availability” in our modern internet-connected culture. Any downtime for your service or application means lost revenue and dissatisfied customers, which means the business takes a hit. Using site reliability engineering to keep things running smoothly, while employing DevOps principles to improve those smooth-running processes, seems to be the best combination to really empower your company.

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How Cloud Trends are Changing (& Happy Birthday, ParkMyCloud!)

ParkMyCloud just turned 3 years old, and from here, the future looks great. The market is growing, cloud is the norm, and cost control is always top of mind for companies big and small. In fact, over 600 enterprises in 25+ countries now use our platform to “park idle cloud resources (including instances, databases and scale groups) in AWS, Azure, GCP and now Alibaba.

As we look to the future, we’re taking a moment to consider current cloud trends and how cost control needs are changing. To provide context, let’s take a quick look at where the market was three years ago.

The Problem that Got Us Started

When we founded the company three years ago, we set out to build a self-service, SaaS platform which would allow DevOps users to automate cloud cost control and integrate it into their cloud operations. We saw a need for this platform as we were talking to enterprises using AWS about broader cloud management needs as a service play. They wanted a self-service, purpose-built easy button for instance scheduling that could be centrally managed and governed but left up to the end user to control – enter ParkMyCloud.

Our value proposition started simply and has stayed relatively constant: save 20% on your cloud bill in 15 minutes or less (it’s 65% per parked resource). The ease of use, verifiable ROI, and richness of our platform capabilities allow global companies like McDonald’s, Unilever, Sysco, Sage and many others to adopt ParkMyCloud on their own, with no services, and begin to automate their cloud cost control in minutes – not days or weeks.

I went back and looked at our pre-launch pitch decks. At that time, the cloud Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) market was $10B or so, and dominated by AWS, and others like Rackspace and HP were in the game with the other usual suspects. Today, Gartner estimates enterprises will spend $41B on IaaS in 2018, and it’s still dominated by AWS, but the number of players is really down to 4 or 6 depending on where you want to put IBM and Oracle.

But the cloud waste problem is still prominent and growing, most analysts and industry pundits estimate that 25% or more of your bill is wasted on unused, idle or over provisioned resources – that equates to $10B+ based on 2018 IaaS predictions being wasted – that’s a BIG nut. In fact, if you break that down that’s $1MM in wasted cloud spend every hour. And it’s important. Most enterprises rank cloud security/governance and cost management as their primary concerns with cloud adoption.

Cloud Trends Driving the Market

So how are things changing? We see three key trends that will drive our company and platform vision over the next 3 years:

  1. Multi-cloud – it’s been long discussed, but it’s now a reality: 20% of the enterprises using PMC manage 2 or more CSPs in the platform, and that number is growing. As always, cost control is an important factor in a multi-cloud strategy.  
  2. PaaS – Platform as a Service (PaaS) use is growing, so users are looking to optimize these resources. ParkMyCloud offers optimization for databases, scale groups, and logical groups. We plan to expand into containers and stacks to meet this need.
  3. Data-driven automation (AIOps) – our customers, large and small, are pushing us to expand our data-driven policies and automation – everyone is becoming more comfortable with the idea of automation. Our first priority on this front is to optimize overprovisioned resources – often referred to as RightSizing … RightSizeMyCloud!

 

Cloud trends are not always easy to predict, but one thing is for certain: costs will need to be controlled. Good fun ahead.

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Announcing Alibaba Cloud Cost Control with ParkMyCloud

We’re happy to announce that ParkMyCloud now supports Alibaba Cloud!

Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud Platform (GCP) users have saved millions of dollars on their cloud bills using ParkMyCloud’s automated cloud cost optimization platform. Customers like McDonald’s, Sysco, and Unilever use ParkMyCloud to automatically turn off idle cloud resources as part of their DevOps process.

Now, Alibaba Cloud customers can do the same.

Why Alibaba?

Alibaba Cloud is experiencing rapid customer adoption and growth – in the 4th quarter of last year, they saw over 100% growth, with more than 300 products and features launched. The company is clearly expanding their horizons beyond retail and putting a focus on innovation and development in the cloud space – both in China where their core customer base is located, and throughout the world as companies globally choose Alibaba as their primary cloud provider or as part of a multi-cloud strategy.

But the real reason we’re here is to help cloud users solve the enormous problem of cloud waste.

We estimate that Alibaba users will waste $552 million on idle cloud resources this year – that’s $1.5 million per day that could easily be saved with automated cost optimization in place. There’s no time to lose in getting cost control measures in place.

See it In Action

Get a preview of ParkMyCloud – watch this 2-minute demo to see how it works. To see a full demo and get your questions answered, schedule a personalized demo now.

Try Now for Free

You can get started with Alibaba Cloud cost control now with a free 14-day trial of ParkMyCloud, with full access to premium features.

After your trial expires, you can choose to continue using the free tier, or upgrade to use premium features such as SmartParking, full API access, advanced reporting and SSO.

Cheers, and happy parking.

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4 Types of Idle Cloud Resources That Are Wasting Your Money

We have been talking about idle cloud resources for several years now. Typically, we’re talking about instances purchased On Demand that you’re using for non-production purposes like development, testing, QA, staging, etc. These resources can be “parked” when they’re not being used, such as on nights and weekend, saving 65% or more per resource each month. What we haven’t talked much about is how the problem of idle cloud resources extends beyond just your typical virtual machine.

Why Idle Cloud Resources are a Problem

If you think about it, the problem is pretty straightforward: if a resource is idle, you’re paying your cloud provider for something you’re not actually using. This adds up.

Most non-production resources can be parked about 65% of the time, that is, parked 12 hours per day and all day on weekends (this is confirmed by looking at the resources parked in ParkMyCloud – they’re scheduled to be off just under 65% of the time.) We see that our customers are paying their cloud providers an average list price of $220 per month for their instances. If you’re currently paying $220 per month for an instance and leaving it running all the time, that means you’re wasting $143 per instance per month.

Maybe that doesn’t sound like much. But if that’s the case for 10 instances, you’re wasting $1,430 per month. One hundred instances? You’re up to a bill of $14,300 for time you’re not using. And that’s just a simple micro example. At a macro level that’s literally billions of dollars in wasted cloud spend.

4 Types of Idle Cloud Resources

So what kinds of resources are typically left idle, consuming your budget? Let’s dig into that, looking at the big three cloud providers — Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud Platform (GCP).

  • On Demand Instances/VMs – this is the core of the conversation, and what we’ve addressed above. On demand resources – and their associated scale groups – are frequently left running when they’re not being used, especially those used for non-production purposes.
  • Relational Databases – there’s no doubt that databases are frequently left running when not needed as well, in similar circumstances to the On Demand resources. The problem is whether you can park them to cut back on wasted spend. AWS allows you to park certain types of its RDS service, however, you can not park like idle database services in Azure (SQL Database) or GCP (SQL). In this case, you should review your database infrastructure regularly and terminate anything unnecessary – or change to a smaller size if possible.
  • Load Balancers – AWS Elastic Load Balancers (ELB) can not be stopped (or parked), so to avoid getting billed for the time you need to remove it. The same can be said for Azure Load Balancer and GCP Load Balancers. Alerts can be set up in Cloudwatch/Azure Metrics/Google Stackdriver when you have a load balancer with no instances, so be sure to make use of those alerts.
  • Containers – optimizing container use is a project of its own, but there’s no doubt that container services can be a source of waste. In fact, we are evaluating the ability for ParkMyCloud to park container services including ECS and EKS from AWS, ACS and AKS from Azure, and GKE from GCP, and the ability to prune and park the underlying hosts. In the meantime, you’ll want to regularly review the usage of your containers and the utilization of the infrastructure, especially in non-production environments.

Cloud waste is a billion-dollar problem facing businesses today. Make sure you’re turning off idle cloud resources in your environment, by parking those that can be stopped and eliminating those that can’t, to do your part in optimizing cloud spend.

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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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Cloud Computing Green Initiatives on the Rise

Over the past couple of months, we have seen a lot of articles about the Big Three cloud providers and their efforts to be environmentally friendly and make cloud computing green. What are Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud Platform (GCP) doing to make their IaaS services as green as possible? Does moving to the cloud help enterprises with their green initiatives and use of renewable energy?

It seems the cloud providers are focused on using renewable energy like solar and wind to power their massive data centers and are very actively touting that fact.

For example, Microsoft recently announced a new renewable energy initiative, the Sunseap project. This project, Microsoft’s first Asian clean energy deal, will install solar panels on hundreds of rooftops in Singapore, which they claim will generate 60MW to power Microsoft’s Singapore datacenter — making Microsoft Azure, Office 365 and numerous other cloud services. This deal is the third international clean energy announcement, following two wind deals announced in Ireland and The Netherlands in 2017. That’s pretty cool in my book, so kudos to them.

Google made a similar announcement recently, albeit a little more general, where they tout that Google is now buying enough renewable energy to match the power used in its data centers and offices. Google said that last year its total purchase of energy from sources including wind and solar exceeded the amount of electricity used by its operations around the world. According to a recent blog written by Google, they are the first public cloud, and company of their size, to have achieved that feat, so says Urs Hölzle, Google’s senior vice president of technical infrastructure. Now we can’t verify this but let’s take them at face value given the data in the chart below:

One observation we have in looking at this chart – where are IBM and Oracle? Once again, the Big Three always seem to be several steps ahead.

Speaking of, we’ve looked at Microsoft and Google, what about AWS? According to AWS’s self-reports, it seems that they are behind both Google and Microsoft in terms of relying 100% on renewable energy. AWS states a long-term commitment to achieve 100% renewable energy usage for their global infrastructure footprint, and had set a goal to be powered by 50% renewable energy by the end of 2017 (we could not find a recent 2018 update).

Moving to the cloud has many benefits – time to market, agility, innovation, lower upfront cost, and the commitment to renewable energy.! There’s one other way for cloud computing to be more sustainable – and that’s by all of us using fewer resources. In our small little way, ParkMyCloud helps – we help you turn cloud stuff off when its not being used, kind of like following your kids around the house and shutting off the lights, your at-home green initiative – you know you can automate that using Nest, right? Saving money in the process? That’s a win-win.

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DevFinOps: Why Finance Needs to be Integrated with Development and Operations

The formation of DevOps brought together two distinct worlds, causing a shift in IT culture that can only be made better (and more cost effective) by the integration of financial strategy  – enter DevFinOps. We say this partially in jest… yeah, we know, you’ve had enough of the Dev-blank-blank mashups. But really, this is something that we’ve been preaching about since the start of ParkMyCloud. As long as the public cloud remains a utility, everyone should be responsible for controlling the cost of their cloud use, meaning “continuous cost control” should be integrated into the processes of continuous integration and delivery.  

What is DevFinOps?

Hear us out — you at least need to start thinking of financial management as an element in the DevOps process. Time and time again, we see DevOps teams overspend and face major organizational challenges when inevitably the Finance team (or the CTO) starts enforcing a stricter budget. Cost control becomes a project, derailing forward development motion by rerouting valuable resources toward implementing spend management processes.  

It doesn’t need to be this way.

As financial resources are finite, they should be an integrated element from the very beginning when possible, and otherwise as soon as possible. Our product manager, Andy Richman,  recently discussed this concept further in a podcast for The CloudCast.

There are a number of ways that finance can be integrated into DevOps, but one near and dear to our hearts is with automated cloud cost control. A mental disconnect between cloud resources and their costs causes strain on budgets and top-down pressure to get spending under control.

Changing the Mindset: Cloud is a Utility

The reason for this disconnect is that as development and operations have moved to the cloud, the way we assess costs has changed profoundly in the same way that infrastructure has changed. A move to the cloud is a move to pay-as-you-go compute resources.

This is due to the change in pricing structure and mindset that happened with the shift from traditional infrastructure to public cloud. As one of our customers put it:

“It’s been a challenge educating our team on the cloud model. They’re learning that there’s a direct monetary impact for every hour that an idle instance is running. The world of physical servers was all CapEx driven, requiring big up-front costs, and ending in systems running full time. Now the model is OpEx, and getting our people to see the benefits of the new cost-per-hour model has been challenging but rewarding.”

In a world where IT costs already tend to exceed budgets, there’s an added struggle to calculating long-term cost estimates for applications that are developed, built and run on a utility. But wasn’t the public cloud supposed to be more cost effective? Yes, but only if every team and individual is aware of their usage, accountable for it, and empowered with tools that will give them insight and control over what they use. The public cloud needs to be thought of like any other utility.

Take your monthly electric bill, for example. If everyone in the office left the lights on 24 hours a day and 7 days a week, those costs would add up rather quickly. Meanwhile, you’d be wasting money on all those nights and weekends that your beautifully lit office is completely empty. But that doesn’t happen because in most cases, people understand that lights cost money, so people have automated this process in the office by using sensors either based on motion (usage) or time-based schedules. Now apply that same thinking to the cloud and it’s easy to see why cost-effectiveness goes down the drain when individuals and teams aren’t aware or accountable for they resources they’re using.

Financial decisions regarding IT infrastructure fall into the category of IT asset management (ITAM), an area that merges the financial, contractual and inventory components of an IT project to support lifecycle management and strategic decision-making. That brings us back to DevFinOps: an expansion of ITAM, fixing financial cost and value of IT assets directly into IT infrastructure, updating calculations in real time and simplifying the budgeting process.

Why this is important now that you’re on cloud

DevFinOps proposes a more effective way to estimate costs is by breaking them down into smaller estimates over time as parts of the work get completed, integrating financial planning directly into IT and cloud development operations. To do this, the DevOps team needs visibility into how and when resources are being used and an understanding on opportunities for saving.

Like we’ve been saying: the public cloud is a utility – you pay for what you use. And with that in mind, the easiest way to waste money is by leaving your instances or VMs running 24 hours a day and 7 days a week, and the easiest way to save money is just as simple: turn them off when they’re idle. In a future post, we’ll discuss further on how you can implement this process for your organization using automated cost control – stay tuned.

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Dear Daniel Ek: We Made You a Playlist About Your Google Cloud Spend.

Dear Daniel Ek,

Congrats on Spotify’s IPO! It’s certainly an exciting time for you and the whole company. We’re a startup ourselves, and it’s inspiring to see you shaking up the norms and succeeding on your first day on the stock exchange.

Of course, with big growth comes big operational changes. Makes sense. As cloud enthusiasts ourselves, we were particularly interested to see that you committed to 365 million euros/$447 million in Google Cloud spend over the next three years.

Congrats on choosing an innovative cloud provider that will surely serve your infrastructure needs well.

But we’d like to issue a word of warning. No, not about competing with Google – about something that hits the bottom line more directly, which I’m sure will concern you.

Maybe a playlist on our favorite music streaming service is the best way to say this:

What do we mean when we say not to waste money on Google Cloud resources you don’t need?

In fact, we estimate that up to $90 million of that spend could be on compute hours that no one is actually using – meaning it’s complete wasted.

How did we get there? On average, ⅔ of cloud spend is spent on compute. Of that, 44% is on non-production resources such as those used for development, testing, staging, and QA. Typically, those resources are only needed for about 35% of hours during the week (a 40- hour work week plus a margin of error), meaning the other 65% of hours in the week are not needed. More here.

That’s not to mention potential waste on oversized resources, orphaned volumes, PaaS services, and more.

Companies like McDonald’s, Unilever, and Sysco have chosen ParkMyCloud to reduce that waste by automatically detecting usage and then turning those resources off when they’re not needed – all while providing simple, governed access to their end users.

Daniel, we know you won’t want your team to waste money on your Google Cloud spend.

We’re here when you’re ready.

Cheers,

Jay Chapel

CEO, ParkMyCloud

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Announcing SmartParking for Google Cloud Platform: Automated, Custom On/Off Schedules Based on GCP Metric Data

Today we’re excited to announce the latest cloud provider compatible with ParkMyCloud’s SmartParkingTM – Google Cloud Platform! In addition to AWS and Azure, Google users will now benefit from the use of SmartParking to get automatic, custom on/off schedules for cloud resources based actual usage metrics.

The method is simple: ParkMyCloud will import GCP metric data to look for usage patterns for your GCP virtual machine instances. With your utilization data, ParkMyCloud creates recommended schedules for each instance to turn off when they are typically idle, eliminating potential cloud waste and saving you money on your Google Cloud bill every month. You will no longer have to go through the process of creating your own schedule or manually shutting your VMs off – unless you want to. SmartParking automates the scheduling for you, minimizing idle time and cutting costs in the process.

Customized Scheduling – Not “One-Size-Fits-All”

SmartParking’s benefits are not “one-size-fits-all.” The recommended schedules can be customized like an investment portfolio – choose between “conservative”, “balanced”, or “aggressive” based on your preferences.

And like an investment, a bigger risk comes with a bigger reward. When receiving recommendations based on your GCP metric data, you’ll have the power to decide which of the custom schedules is best for you. If you’re going for maximum savings, aggressive SmartParking is your best bet since you’ll be parked most of the time, but with a small “risk” of occasionally finding an instance parked when needed. But in the event that this does happen – no fear! You can still use ParkMyCloud’s “snooze button” to override the schedule and get the instance turned back on — and you can give your team governed access to do the same.

If you’d rather completely avoid having your instances shut off when needed, you can opt for a conservative schedule. Conservative SmartParking only recommends a parking schedule during times that instances are never used, ensuring that you won’t miss a beat when it comes to having instances off during any given time that you’ve ever used them.

If you’re worried about the risk of aggressive parking for maximum savings, but want more opportunities to save than conservative schedules will give you, then a “balanced” SmartParking schedule is a happy medium.

What People are Saying: Save More, Easier than Ever

Since ParkMyCloud debuted SmartParking in January for AWS, adding Azure in March, customers have given positive feedback to the new functionality:

“ParkMyCloud has helped my team save so much on our AWS bill already, and SmartParking will make it even easier,” said Tosin Ojediran, DevOps Engineer at a FinTech company. “The automatic schedules will save us time and make sure our instances are never running when they don’t need to be.”

ParkMyCloud customer Sysco Foods has more than 500 users across 50 teams using ParkMyCloud to manage their AWS environments. “When I’m asked by a team how they should use the tool, they’re exceedingly happy that they can go in and see when systems are idle,” Kurt Brochu, Sysco Foods’ Senior Manager of the Cloud Enablement Team, said of SmartParking. “To me, the magic is that the platform empowers the end user to make decisions for the betterment of the business.”

Already a ParkMyCloud user? Log in to your account to try out the new SmartParking. Note that you will need to update the permissions that ParkMyCloud has to access your GCP metric data — see the user guide for instructions on that.

Not yet a ParkMyCloud user? Start a free trial here.

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Why the NCAA Google Cloud Ads Matter

NCAA, Google Cloud? What does the cloud have to do with March Madness? Actually, public cloud is increasingly being used and promoted in sports. When you watch the tournament on NCAA, Google Cloud ads will show prominently. Plus, the NCAA has chosen to run its infrastructure on Google Cloud Platform (GCP).

(By the way, have your done your bracket yet? I just did mine – I went chalk and picked Villanova. Couldn’t see my WVU Mountaineers winning it all).

So we will see and hear a lot of Google Cloud in the coming weeks. Google recently announced a multiyear sponsorship deal with the NCAA and will run these ads throughout the upcoming NCAA basketball tournament. Google is hoping to expand its cloud business by taking complex topics such as cloud computing, machine learning and artificial intelligence and making them relatable to a wider audience.

So why does is matter that NCAA and Google Cloud will appear so prominently together this March Madness?

First of all, Google Cloud is always matching wits with the other major cloud providers — and in this case, they’ve had their hooks in various mainstream sporting leagues and events for several years. For example, did you notice the partnership between AWS and the National Football League (NFL)? Both AWS and NFL promote machine-learning capabilities — software that helps recognize patterns and make predictions — to quickly analyze data captured during games. The data could provide new kinds of statistics for fans and insights that could help coaches.

Second, there’s the infrastructure that supports these huge events. I can tell you as a sports fan that me and my mates will all be live streaming football, basketball, golf and soccer (yes the English Premier League) on our phones and tablets wherever we are. We do this while watching the kids play sports, working in the office, and even while we are playing golf – hook it up to cart (a buggy for my UK mates). Many of these content providers are using AWS, Microsoft Azure, GCP, and IBM Cloud to get this content to us in real time, and to analyze it and provide valuable insights for a better user experience.

Or take a look at the Masters golf tournament. Usually IBM and ATT are big sponsors, although the Masters is usually very hush hush about a lot of this. Last year there was a lot of talk of IBM Watson, the Masters and the surreal experience they were able to deliver. This is a really good read on what went on behind the scenes and how Watson and IBM’s cloud delivered that experience. IBM used Machine learning, Visual recognition, Speech-to-text, and cognitive computing to build a phenomenal user experience for Masters viewers and visitors.

The NCAA and Google Cloud are not just ad partners, but the NCAA is also a GCP customer. The NCAA is migrating 80+ years of historical and play-by-play data, from 90 championships and 24 sports to GCP. To start, the NCAA will tap into decades of historical basketball data using BigQuery, Cloud Spanner, Datalab, Cloud Machine Learning and Cloud Dataflow, to power the analysis of team and player performance. So Google Cloud not only gets advertising prominence for one of the most-watched events of the year, it gets a high-profile customer and one of the coolest use cases out there.

Enjoy the tournament – let’s go Cats!

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Cloud Operations Management: Is the cloud really making operations easier?

As cloud becomes more mature, the need for cloud operations management becomes more pervasive. In my world, it seems pretty much like IT Operations Management (ITOM) from decades ago. In the way-back machine I used to work at Micromuse, the Netcool company, which was acquired by IBM Tivoli, the Smarter Planet company, which then turned Netcool into Smarter Cloud … well you get the drift. Here we are 10+ years later, and IT = Cloud (and maybe chuck in some Watson).

Cloud operations management is the process concerned with designing, overseeing, controlling, and subsequently redesigning cloud operational processes.  This involves management of both hardware and software as well as network infrastructures to promote an efficient and lean cloud.

Analytics is heavily involved in cloud operations management and used to maximize visibility of the cloud environment, which gives the organization the intelligence required to control the resources and running services confidently and cost-effectively.

Cloud operations management can:

  • Improve efficiency and minimize the risk of disruption
  • Deliver the speed and quality that users expect and demand
  • Reduce the cost of delivering cloud services and justify your investments

Since ParkMyCloud helps enterprises control cloud costs, we mostly talk to customers about the part of cloud operations concerned with running and managing resources. We are all about that third bullet – reducing the cost of delivering cloud services and justifying investments. We strive to accomplish that while also helping with the first two bullets to really maximize the value the cloud brings to an enterprise.

So what’s really cool is when we get to ask people what tools they are using to deploy, secure, govern, automate and manage their public cloud infrastructure, as those are the tools that they want us to integrate into as part of their cost optimization efforts, and we need to understand the roles operation folks now play in public cloud (CloudOps).

And, no it’s not easier to manage cloud. In fact I would say it’s harder. The cloud provides numerous benefits – agility, time to market, OpEx vs. CapEx, etc. – but you still have to automate, manage and optimize all those resources. The pace of change is mind boggling – AWS advertises 150+ services now, from basic compute to AI, and everything in between.

So who are these people responsible for cloud operations management? Their titles tend to be DevOps, CloudOps, IT Ops and Infrastructure-focused, and they are tasked with operationalizing their cloud infrastructure while teams of developers, testers, stagers, and the like are constantly building apps in the cloud and leveraging a bottoms-up tools approach. Ten years ago, people could not just stand up a stack in their office and have at it, but they sure as hell can now.

So what does this look like in the cloud? I think KPMG did a pretty good job with this graphic and generally hits on the functional buckets we see people stick tools into for cloud operations management.

So how should you approach your cloud operations management journey? Let’s revisit the goals from above.

  1. Efficiency – Automation is the name of the game. Narrow in on the tools that provide automation to free up your team’s development time.
  2. Deliverability – See the bullet above. When your team has time, they can focus on delivering the best possible product to your customers.
  3. Cost control – Think of “continuous cost control” as a companion to continuous integration and continuous delivery. This area, too, can benefit from automated tools – learn more about continuous cost control.

 

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$12.9 Billion in wasted cloud spend this year.

Wake up and smell the wasted cloud spend. The cloud shift is not exactly a shift anymore, it’s an evident transition. It’s less of a “disruption” to the IT market and more of an expectation. And with enterprises following a visible path headed towards the cloud, it’s clear that their IT spend is going in the same direction: up.

Enterprises have a unique advantage as their cloud usage continues to grow and evolve. The ability to see where IT spend is going is a great opportunity to optimize resources and minimize wasted cloud spend, and one of the best ways to do that is by identifying and preventing cloud waste.

So, how much cloud waste is out there and how big is the problem? What difference does this make to the enterprises adopting cloud services at an ever-growing rate? Let’s take a look.

The State of the Cloud Market in 2018

The numbers don’t lie. For a real sense of how much wasted cloud spend there is, the first step is to look at how much money enterprises are spending in this space at an aggregate level.

Gartner’s latest IT spending forecast predicts that worldwide IT spending will reach $3.7 trillion in 2018, up 4.5 percent from 2017. Of that number, the portion spent in the public cloud market is expected to reach $305.8 billion in 2018, up $45.6 billion from 2017.

The last time we examined the numbers back in 2016, the global public cloud market was sitting at around $200 billion and Gartner had predicted that the cloud shift would affect $1 trillion in IT spending by 2020. Well, with an updated forecast and over $100 billion dollars later, growth could very well exceed predictions.

The global cloud market and the portion attributed to public cloud spend are what give us the ‘big picture’ of the cloud shift, and it just keeps growing, and growing, and growing. You get the idea. To start understanding wasted cloud spend at an organizational level, let’s break this down further by looking at an area that Gartner says is driving a lot of this growth: infrastructure as a service (IaaS).

Wasted Cloud Spend in IaaS

As enterprises increasingly turn to cloud service providers like Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud Platform (GCP) to provide compute resources for hosting components of their infrastructures, IaaS plays a significant role in both cloud spend and cloud waste.

Of the forecasted $305.8 billion dollar public cloud market  for 2018, $45.8 billion of that will be spent on IaaS, ⅔ of which goes directly to compute resources. This is where we get into the waste part:

  • 44% of compute resources are used for non-production purposes (i.e. development, staging, testing, QA)
  • The majority of servers used for these functions only need to run during the typical 40-hour work week (Monday through Friday, 9 to 5) and do not need to run 24/7
  • Cloud service providers are still charging you by the hour (or minute, or even by the second) for providing compute resources

The bottom line: for the other 128 hours of the week (or 7,680 minutes, or 460,800 seconds) – you’re getting charged for resources you’re not even using. And there’s a large percent of your waste!

What You Can Do to Prevent Wasted Cloud Spend

Turn off your cloud resources.

The easiest and fastest way to save money on your idle cloud resources when  is by simply by not using them. In other words, turn them off. When you think of the cloud as a utility like electricity, it’s as simple as turning off the lights every night and when you’re not at home. With ParkMyCloud you can automatically schedule your cloud resources to turn off when you don’t need them, like nights and weekends, and eliminate 65% or more on your monthly bill with AWS, Azure, and Google. Wham. bam.

Turn on your SmartParking.

You already know that you don’t need your servers to be on during nights and weekends, so you shut them off. That’s great, but what if you could save even more with valuable insight and information about your exact usage over time?

With ParkMyCloud’s new SmartParking feature, the platform will track your utilization data, look for patterns and create recommended schedules for each instance, allowing you to turn them off when they’re typically idle.

There’s a lot of cloud waste out there, but there’s also something you can do about it: try ParkMyCloud today.

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Yeah, Yeah, Yeah we Park %$#@, but what really matters to Enterprises? – Frequently Asked Questions

Here at ParkMyCloud we get to do product demos for a lot of great companies all over the world, from startups to Fortune 500’s, and in many different industries – Software, IT, Financial, Media, Food and Beverage, and many more. And as we talk to industry analysts and venture capitalists they always ask about vertical selling and the like — we used to do this back at Micromuse where had Federal, Enterprise, Service Provider and SMB sales teams, for example. But here at ParkMyCloud we notice in general the questions from enterprises are vertical-agnostic, and since cloud is the great IT equalizer in my book, we decided to summarize the 8 Most Frequently Asked Questions we get from prospects of all shapes and sizes.

These are the more common questions we get beyond turning cloud resources off / on:

How does ParkMyCloud handle system patching?

Answer: The most common way of dealing with patching is to use our API.  The workflow would be to log in through the API, get a list of the resources, then choose which resources you want and choose to “snooze” the schedule (which is a temporary override of the schedule, if you haven’t played with that yet) for a couple of hours, or however long the patching takes.  Once the schedule is snoozed, you can toggle the instance on, then do the patching.  After the patching is complete, you can either cancel the snooze to go back to the original schedule or wait for the snooze to finish and timeout.

If your patching is done on a weekly basis, you could also just implement the patch times into the schedules so the instances turn on, say at 3am on Sunday.

How do I start and stop instances in a sequential order?

Answer: ParkMyCloud has created a feature that we call ‘Logical Groups’, basically you group cloud resources into a group or cluster within the platform and then assign the order you wish them to stop and start, you can also set how long it takes before resource 1 starts / stops and then resource 2 starts / stops and so forth. This way, your web server can stop first and the database can stop second so all the connections close properly. As this feature is very popular, we have had many requests to fully automate this using our policy engine and tags, a work in progress – that will be way cool.

My developers hate UI’s, how does he/she manage the schedules without using your UI?

Answer: Yes, this is an easy one but always gets asked. If you are anti-UI or just don’t want to use yet another UI, you can use the following channels to manage your resources in ParkMyCloud:

Can I govern user access and permissions?

Answer: Yes, we have support for Single-Sign On (SSO) and a full on Role-based Access Control model (RBAC) in the platform that allows you to import users, add them to teams and assign them roles. The common scenario around this is ‘I only want my SAP QA team to have access to the cloud resources they need for that project and nothing else, and limit their permissions’ – handled.

Can I automatically assign schedules based on tags?

Answer: Yes, and in general this what most companies do using ParkMyCloud. We have a Policy Engine where you can create policies that allow you to fully automate your cloud resource scheduling. Basically the policy reads the AWS, Azure, or Google Cloud metadata that is brought into the platform, and based on those tags (or even other data like resource name, size, region, etc.) and the corresponding policy, we can automatically assign schedules to cloud resources. And we take that a step further, as those resources can also be automatically parsed to Teams and Users as well based on their roles (see RBAC).

You can only park stuff based on tags? That’s so weak!

Answer: Not so fast my friend … I must admit we sort of threw this one in there but it does come up quite often, and we recently solved this problem with our release of SmartParking, which allows you to bring in metric data, trend it for a period of time, and then automatically create schedules based on those usage patterns – cool stuff.

Can we pick which instances we bring into ParkMyCloud?

Answer: Sort of, through their API the cloud providers don’t allow you to choose which cloud resources in an account you bring into the platform, if you link a cloud account to ParkMyCloud all the cloud resources in that account will populate (assuming our API supports those resources and the cloud provider allows you to ‘park’ them). But we do let you choose which accounts you bring into ParkMyCloud, so link accounts and bring in as many or as few accounts as you wish, and by the way AWS recommends you create accounts based on on function like Production, Dev, Test, QA, etc., and then breaks that down even more granular to Dev 1, Dev 2, Dev 3, etc. – this is ideal for ParkMyCloud.

Where is ParkMyCloud located?

Answer: Northern Virginia of course, in Sterling at Terminal 68 to be precise. It’s a co-working space we share with several other startups; we would also be remiss if we did not mention this area is also one of the finalist locations for Amazon’s H2Q – it’s a hotbed of cloud and data center activity.

We hope this was helpful and would value your feedback on the 8 Most Frequently Asked Questions we get, and if yours are the same or different, or of course our favorite … have you thought of XYZ as a feature? Let us know at info@parkmycloud.com.

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Introducing SmartParking: Automatic On/Off Schedules based on AWS CloudWatch Metrics

Today, we’re excited to bring you SmartParkingTM – automatic, custom on/off schedules for individual resources based on AWS CloudWatch metrics!

ParkMyCloud customers have always appreciated parking recommendations based on keywords found in their instance names and tags – for example, ParkMyCloud recommends that an instance tagged “dev” can be parked, as it’s likely not needed outside of a Monday-Friday workday.

Now, SmartParking will look for patterns in your utilization data from AWS CloudWatch, and create recommend schedules for each instance to turn them off when they are typically idle. This minimizes idle time to maximize savings on your resources.

With SmartParking, you eliminate the extra step of checking in with your colleagues to make sure the schedules you’re putting on their workloads doesn’t interfere with their needs. Now you can receive automatic recommendations to park resources when you know they won’t be used.

SmartParking schedules are provided as recommendations, which you can then click to apply. This release supports SmartParking for AWS resources, with plans to add Azure and Google Cloud SmartParking.

Instance utilization report from AWS CloudWatch data

SmartParking schedule created from instance utilization data

Customize Your Recommendations like your 401K

Different users will have different preferences about what they consider “parkable” times for an instance. So, like your investment portfolios, you can choose to receive SmartParking schedules that are “conservative”, “balanced”, or “aggressive”. And like an investment, a bigger risk comes with the opportunity for a bigger reward.

If you’d like to prioritize the maximum savings amount, then choose aggressive SmartParking schedules. You will park instances – and therefore save money – for the most time, with the “risk” of occasional inconvenience by having something turned off when someone needs it. Your users can always log in to ParkMyCloud and override the schedule with the “snooze button” if they need to use the instance when it’s parked.

On the other hand, if you would like to ensure that your instances are never parked when they might be needed, choose a conservative SmartParking schedule. It will only recommend parked times when the instance is never used. Choose “balanced” for a happy medium.

What People are Saying: Save More, Easier than Ever

Several existing ParkMyCloud customers have previewed the new functionality. “ParkMyCloud has helped my team save so much on our AWS bill already, and SmartParking will make it even easier,” said Tosin Ojediran, DevOps Engineer at a FinTech company. “The automatic schedules will save us time and make sure our instances are never running when they don’t need to be.”

Already a ParkMyCloud user? Log in to your account to try out the new SmartParking. Note that you will need to have AWS CloudWatch metrics enabled for several weeks in order for us to see your usage trends and make recommendations. If you haven’t already, you will need to update your AWS policy.

New to ParkMyCloud? Start a free trial here.

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Cloud Computing 101, the Holidays, DevOps Automation and Moscow Mules – How’s that for a mix!?

I’m back to thinking about Cloud Computing 101, DevOps automation, and the other topics that keep my mind whirring at night – a sure sign that the 2017 holiday season is now officially over. I kicked mine off with an Ugly Sweater Party and wrapped it up with the College BCS games. In between, we had my parents’ 50th wedding anniversary (congrats to them), work-related holiday functions, Christmas with family and friends, New Years Eve with friends, and even chucked in some work and skiing. My liver needs a break but I love those Moscow Mules! Oh, and I have a Fitbit now to tell me how much I sit on my arse all day and peck away at this damn laptop – thanks kids, love you :).

What does this have to do with the cloud, cost control, DevOps and ParkMyCloud? At the different functions and events I went to, people who know me and what we do here at ParkMyCloud asked how business was going. In short, it’s great! In case you didn’t notice, the public cloud is growing, and fast. According to this recent article in Forbes, IaaS is growing 36% year on year – giddy up! Enterprises all over the world use ParkMyCloud to automate cloud cost control as part of their DevOps process. In fact we have customers in 20+ countries now. And people from companies like Sysco Foods rave about the ease of use and cost savings provided by the platform.

Now, when I talked to folks who don’t know what we do or what the cloud is, it’s a whole different discussion. For example, here’s a conversation I had at a party with Lindsey – a fictitious name to protect the innocent (or perhaps it’s USA superstar skier Lindsey Vonn… you will never know.) I like to call this conversation and ones like it “Cloud 101.”

Lindsey: “Hey Jay, how’s it going?”

Jay: “Awesome, great to see you Lindsey. Staying fit I see. How’s the family?” (of course I am holding my Mule in my copper mug – love it!)

Blah blah blah – now to the good stuff.

Lindsey: “So what do you do now?”

Jay: “Do you know what the cloud is?”

Lindsey: “You mean like iTunes?”

Jay: “Sort of. You know all those giant buildings you see when driving around here in Ashburn (VA)? Those buildings are full of servers that run the apps that you use in everyday life. Do you use the Starbucks app?”

Lindsey: “Yes – I’m addicted to Peppermint Mochas.”

Jay: “I am an Iced Venti Skim Chai Tea person myself. So the servers in those data centers are what power the cloud, Starbucks develops apps in the cloud, servers cost money when they’re running, just like the lights in your house. And like the lights in your house, those development servers don’t need to run all the time – only when people are actually using them. So we help companies like Starbucks turn them off when they are not being used. In short, we help companies save money in the cloud.”

Side note to Starbucks — maybe if you used ParkMyCloud to save on your cloud costs with Microsoft and AWS you could stop raising the price of my Iced Venti Skim Chai Tea Latte… just a thought.

It’s thanks to all our customers and partners that I’m able to have this Cloud Computing 101 conversation and include ParkMyCloud in it – with a special thanks to the “Big 3” cloud service providers – AWS, Azure and Google Cloud. Without them, we would not exist as there would not be a cloud to optimize. Kind of like me without my parents, so glad they came together.

Looking ahead to the rest of 2018, we will have lots to write about here at ParkMyCloud — multi-cloud is trending up, automated cloud cost control is trending up, and DevOps will make this all more efficient. And ParkMyCloud will introduce SmartParking, SmartSizing, support for AliCloud and more. It’s all about action and automation baby. Game of Thrones better be back in 2018, too.

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3 Things We Learned at AWS re:Invent 2017 (An Insider’s Look from Jay)

The ParkMyCloud team has returned energized and excited from our annual trek to Las Vegas and our third AWS re:Invent conference. It’s an eclectic group of roughly 42K people, but we gleaned a ton of information by asking questions and listening to the enterprise cloud do’ers at our booth. These are the people actually moving, deploying and managing cloud services at the enterprises we consume goods and services from. They are also often the one’s that start the ‘cloud first’ initiatives we hear so much about — after all, they led the public cloud revolution to AWS 10+ years ago.

I’m not going to write about all the announcements AWS made at re:Invent2017 related to all the cool kid, popular buzz words like Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, Blockchain, Quantum Computing, Serverless Architecture, etc. However, if you do want to read about those please check out this nice recap from Ron Miller of TechCrunch.

Containers are so passé, they did not even make the cool kid list in 2017… but Microservices Architecture did. Huh, wonder if that’s a new phrase for containers?

For ParkMyCloud it’s a great event. We love talking to everyone there – they’re all cloud focused, they are either using AWS exclusively (born in the cloud), or AWS plus another public cloud, or AWS plus private cloud, and in some cases even AWS plus another public cloud and private cloud, thus they are truly ‘multi-hybrid cloud’. We had a ton of great conversations with cloud users who are either prospects, customers, technology partners, MSPs or swag hunters who want learn how to automate their cloud cost control – our nirvana.

There were a ton of Sessions, Workshops and Chalk Talks, and long lines to get into the good ones. It’s up to you to define the good ones and reserve your spot ahead of time.

Of course, it’s not all work and no play. This year for re:Play we had DJ Snake – giddy up! And while you walked your miles through the various casinos there were DJ’s scattered about spinning tunes for you – I describe re:Invent to my friends as an IT event where “millennials meet technology” — definitely not your father’s tech trade show. Having been to many of these IT tech trade shows around the world for 20+ years now, and outside of the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, re:Invent is hands down the coolest.

Not only because of the DJ’s and re:Play but because there is a real buzz there, people are part of the new world of IT, and the migration of enterprise services to the world’s #1 cloud provider. And of course the Pub Crawl and Tatonka chicken wing eating contest.

AWS is now so big that the Venetian/Palazzo can’t hold everyone anymore, so they have spread over to the MGM, Mirage, and Aria. AWS refers to this collection of locations as it’s ‘campus’ – interesting, the rest of us refer to it simply as Las Vegas :-).

BTW – bring your sneakers. It’s 1.5 miles or a 22 minute power walk, including a few bridges, from the MGM to the Venetian assuming no stops for a cold beverage. Speaking of which, the Starbucks line is crazy.

Oh, and the swag, holy mother of pearl, people literally walk by the booth with large tote bags stuffed full of swag – if you like swag, hit up the expo hall for your fill of tee shirts, hoodies, koozies, spinners, bottle openers, pens, flash lights, memory sticks, chargers, stickers, hats, socks, glasses, mints, Toblerone chocolate, and lots more!

Well, I probably need to tie this blog / rant back to the headline, so in that vein, here are the top three things we learned at this year’s AWS re:Invent:

  1. Cost control in 2018 will be about aggregating metrics and taking automated actions based on Machine Learning
  2. AWS talks a lot about advanced cloud services and PaaS, but a majority of the customers we talk to still use and spend most of their dollars on EC2, RDS and S3
  3. DevOps / CloudOps folks are in charge of implementing cost control actions and pick the tools they want to use to optimize cloud spend

See you next year – pre-book your Uber/Lyft or bring a scooter!

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Cloud Service Provider Comparison – Who Will be the Next Big Provider? Part One: Alibaba

When making a cloud service provider comparison, you would probably think of the “big three” providers: Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud Platform (GCP). Thus far, AWS has led the cloud market, but the other two are gaining market share, driving us to make comparisons between Azure vs AWS and Google vs AWS. But that’s not the whole story.

In recent years, a few other “secondary” cloud providers have made their way into the market, offering more options to choose from. Are they worth looking at, and could one of them become the next big provider?

Andy Jassy, CEO of AWS, says: “There won’t be just one successful player. There won’t be 30 because scale really matters here in regards to cost structure, as well as the breadth of services, but there are going to be multiple successful players, and who those are I think is still to be written. But I would expect several of the older guard players to have businesses here as they have large installed enterprise customer bases and a large sales force and things of that sort.”

So for our next cloud service provider comparison, we are going to do an overview of what could arguably be the next biggest provider in the public cloud market (after all, we need to add a 4th cloud provider to the ParkMyCloud arsenal).:

Alibaba

Alibaba is a cloud provider not widely known about in the U.S., but it’s taking China by storm and giving Amazon a run for its money in Asia. It’s hard to imagine a cloud provider (or e-commerce giant) more successful than what we have seen with Amazon, let alone a provider that isn’t part of the big three, but Alibaba has their sights set on surpassing AWS to dominate the world wide cloud computing market.

Take a look at some recent headlines:

Guess Who’s King of Cloud Revenue Growth? It’s Not Amazon or Microsoft

Alibaba Just Had Its Amazon AWS Moment

Alibaba Declares War on Amazon’s Surging Cloud Computing Business

What we know so far about Alibaba:

  • In 2016: Cloud revenue was $675 million, surpassing Google Cloud’s $500 million. First quarter revenue was $359 million and in the second quarter rose to $447 million.
  • Alibaba was dubbed the highest ranking cloud provider in terms of revenue growth, with sales increasing 126.5 percent from 2015 ($298 million) to 2016
  • Gartner research places Alibaba’s cloud in fourth place among cloud providers, ahead of IBM and Oracle

Alibaba Cloud was introduced to cloud computing just three years after Amazon launched AWS. Since then, Alibaba has grown at a faster pace than Amazon, largely due to their domination of the Chinese market, and is now the 5th largest cloud provider in the world.

Alibaba’s growth is attributed in part to the booming Chinese economy, as the Chinese government continues digitizing, bringing its agencies online and into the cloud. In addition, as the principal e-commerce system in China, Alibaba holds the status as the “Amazon of Asia.” Simon Hu, senior vice president of Alibaba Group and president of Alibaba Cloud, claims that Alibaba will surpass AWS as the top provider by 2019.

Our Take

For the time being, Amazon is still dominating the U.S. cloud market, exceeding $400 billion in comparison to Alibaba’s $250 billion. Still, Alibaba Cloud is growing at incredible speed, with triple digit year-over-year growth over the last several quarters. As the dominant cloud provider in China, Alibaba is positioned to continue growing, and is still in its early stages of growth in the cloud computing market. Only time will reveal what Alibaba Cloud will do, but in the meantime, we’ll definitely be keeping a lookout. After all, we have customers in 20 countries around the world, not just in the U.S.  

Next Up: IBM & Oracle

Apart from the big three cloud providers, Alibaba is clearly making a name for itself with a fourth place ranking in the world of cloud computing. While this cloud provider is clearly gaining traction, a few more have made their introduction in recent years. Here’s a snapshot of the next 2 providers in our cloud service provider comparison:

IBM

  • At the end of June 2017, IBM made waves when it outperformed Amazon in total cloud computing revenue at $15.1 billion to $14.5 billion over a year-long period
  • However, Amazon is still way ahead when it comes to the IaaS market
    • For 2016, Amazon had the highest IaaS revenue, followed by Microsoft, Alibaba, and Google, respectively. IBM did not make the top 5.
    • Alibaba had the highest IaaS growth rate, followed by Google, Microsoft, and Amazon, respectively.
  • IBM was the fourth biggest cloud provider – before Alibaba took over
  • In Q1 of 2017, Synergy rankings showed that IBM has 4 percent of the public cloud market share, just behind Alibaba’s 5 percent
    • AWS had 44 percent, Azure – 11 percent, and Google Cloud – 6 percent

Oracle

  • Oracle’s cloud business is still ramping up, particularly in terms of IaaS
  • In fiscal Q1 of 2018, growth was at 51 percent, down from a 60 percent average in the last four quarters
    • Q4 for fiscal 2017 was at 58 percent
  • Since last quarter, shares have gone down by 10 percent

When making a cloud service provider comparison, don’t limit yourself to the “big three” of AWS, Azure, and GCP. They might dominate the market now, but as other providers grow, innovate, and increase their following in the cloud wars – we’ll continue to track and compare as earnings are reported.

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Complex Cloud Pricing Models Mean You Need Automated Cost Control

Cloud pricing models can be complex. In fact, it’s often difficult for public cloud users to decipher a) what they’re spending, b) whether they need to be spending that much, and c) how to save on their cloud costs. The good news is that this doesn’t need to be an ongoing battle. Once you get a handle on what you’re spending, you can automate the cost control process to ensure that you only spend what you need to.

By the way, I recently talked about this on The Cloudcast podcast – if you prefer to listen, check out the episode.

All Cloud Pricing Models Require Cost Management

automate cloud cost savingsThe major cloud service providers – Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud Platform – offer several pricing models for compute services – by usage, Reserved, and Spot pricing.

The basic model is by usage – typically this has been per-hour, although AWS and Google both recently announced per-second billing (more on this next week.) This requires careful cost management, so users can determine whether they’re paying for resources that are running when they’re not actually needed. This could be paying for non-production instances on nights and weekends when no one is using them, or paying for oversized instances that are not optimally utilized.

Then there are Reserved Instances, which allow you to pre-pay partially or entirely. The billing calculation is done on the back end, so it still requires management effort to ensure that the instances you are running are actually eligible for the Reserved Instances you’ve paid for.

As to whether these are actually a good choice for you, see the following blog post: Are AWS Reserved Instances Better Than On-Demand? It’s about AWS Reserved Instances, although similar principles apply to Azure Reserved Instances.

Spot instances allow you to bid on and use spare compute capacity for a cheap price, but their inherent risk means that you have to build fault-tolerant applications in order to take advantage of this cost-saving option.

However You’re Paying, You Need to Automate

The bottom line is that while visibility into the costs incurred by your cloud pricing model is an important first step, in order to actually reduce and optimize your cloud spend, you need to be able to take automated actions to reduce infrastructure costs.

To this end, our customers told us that they would like the ability to park instances based on utilization data. So, we’re currently developing this capability, which will be released in early December. Following that, we will add the ability for ParkMyCloud to give you right sizing recommendations – so not only will you be able to automatically park your idle instances, you’ll also be able to automatically size instances to correctly fit your workloads so you’re not overpaying.

Though cloud pricing can be complicated, with governance and automated savings measures in place, you can put cost worries to the back of your mind and focus on your primary objectives.

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Google Cloud Platform vs AWS: Is the answer obvious? Maybe not.

Google Cloud Platform vs AWS: what’s the deal? A few months ago, we asked the same question about Azure vs AWS. While Microsoft continues to see growth, and Amazon maintains a steady lead among cloud providers, Google is stepping in. Now that Google Cloud Platform has solidly secured its spot to round out the “big three” cloud providers, we think it’s time to take a closer look and see how the underdog matches up to the 800-pound gorilla.

Is Google Cloud catching up to AWS?

As they’ve been known to do, Amazon, Google, and Microsoft all released their recent quarterly earnings on the same day. At first glance, the headlines tell it all:

The natural conclusion is that AWS continues to dominate in the cloud war. With all major cloud providers reporting earnings at the same time, we have an ideal opportunity to examine the numbers and determine if there’s more to the story. Here’s what the quarterly earning reports tell us:

  • AWS reported $4.6 billion in revenue for the quarter and is on its way to $18 billion in revenue for year, a 42% year-over-year increase, taking the top spot among cloud providers
  • Google’s revenue has cloud sales lumped together with revenue from the Google Play app store, summing up to a total of $3.4 billion for the last quarter
  • Although Google did not report specific revenue for Google Cloud Platform (GCP), Canalys estimates earnings at $870 million for the quarter – a 76% year-over-year growth

 

  • It’s also important to note that Google is just getting started. Also included in their report was an increase in new hires, a total of 2,495 in the last quarter, and most of them going to positions in their cloud sector

The Obvious: Google is not surpassing AWS

When it comes to Google Cloud Platform vs AWS, presently we have a clear winner. Amazon continues to have the advantage as the biggest and most successful cloud provider on the market. While AWS is growing at a smaller rate now than both Google Cloud and Azure, Amazon’s growth is still more impressive given that it has the largest market share of all three. AWS is the clear competitor to beat as the first successful cloud provider, with the widest range of services, and a strong familiarity among developers.

The Less Obvious: Google is gaining ground

While it’s easy to write off Google Cloud Platform, AWS is not untouchable. Let’s not forget that 76% year-over-year growth is nothing to scoff at. AWS has already solidified itself in the cloud market, but Google Cloud is just beginning to take off.

Where is Google actually gaining ground?

We know that AWS is at the forefront of cloud providers today. At the same time, AWS is now only one among three major cloud providers. Google Cloud Platform has more in store for its cloud business in 2018.

Google’s stock continues to rise. With nearly 2,495 new hires added to the headcount, a vast majority of them being cloud-related jobs, it’s clear that Google is serious about expanding its role in the cloud market. Deals have been made with major retailer Kohl’s department store, and payments processor giant Paypal. Google CEO Sundar Pichai lists the cloud platform as one of the top three priorities for the company, confirming that they will continue expanding their cloud sales headcount.

In discussing Google’s recent quarterly earnings, Pichai added his thoughts on why he believes the Google Cloud Platform is on a set path for strong growth. He credits their success to customer confidence in Google’s impressive technology and a lead in machine learning, naming the company’s open-source software TensorFlow as a prime example. Another key component to growth is strategic partnerships, such as the recent announcement of a deal with Cisco, in addition to teaming up with VMware and Pivotal.

Driving Google’s growth is also the fact that the cloud market itself is growing fast. The move to the cloud has prompted large enterprises to use multiple cloud providers in building their applications, such as Home Depot Inc. and Target Corp., who rely on a combination of cloud vendors. Home Depot in particular uses both Azure and Google Cloud Platform, and a spokesman for the home improvement retailer explains why that was that intentional: “Our philosophy here is to be cloud agnostic, as much as we can.” This philosophy goes to show that as long as there is more than one major cloud provider in the mix, enterprises will continue trying, comparing, and adopting more than one at a time, making way for Google Cloud to gain further ground.

Andy Jassy, CEO of AWS, put it best:

“There won’t be just one successful player. There won’t be 30 because scale really matters here in regards to cost structure, as well as the breadth of services, but there are going to be multiple successful players, and who those are I think is still to be written. But I would expect several of the older guard players to have businesses here as they have large installed enterprise customer bases and a large sales force and things of that sort.”

Google Cloud Platform vs. AWS: Why does it matter?

Google Cloud Platform vs AWS is only one battle to consider in the ongoing cloud war. The truth is, market performance is only one factor in choosing the best cloud provider, and as we always say, the specific needs of your business are what will drive your decision.

What we do know: the public cloud is not just growing, it’s booming.

Referring back to our Azure vs AWS comparison, the basic questions still remain the same when it comes to choosing the best cloud provider:

  • Are the public cloud offerings to new customers easily comprehensible?
  • What is the pricing structure and how much do the products cost?
  • Are there adequate customer support and growth options?
  • Are there useful surrounding management tools?
  • Will our DevOps processes translate to these offerings?
  • Can the PaaS offerings speed time-to-value and simplify things sufficiently, to drive stickiness?
  • What security measures does the cloud provider have in place?

Right now AWS is certainly in the lead among major cloud providers, but for how long? We will continue to track and compare cloud providers as earnings are reported, offers are increased, and price options grow and change. To be continued in 2018…

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