Cloudyn Monitors and Optimizes AWS Usage

Cloudyn is launching a hosted service on Monday that aims to monitor a company's cloud usage and recommend ways to optimize that usage in order to cut costs.

The service is available initially for Amazon Web Services customers, and Cloudyn plans to add support for Rackspace in the second quarter, and other providers after that. The service will be free until May 1, after which customers will have to pay for the optimization recommendations. Anyone can sign up for the service now.

To get started, a company logs into the Cloudyn service using its AWS credentials. Cloudyn discovers the databases, servers and storage the company is using on AWS, and examines the usage patterns of CPU, memory, I/O and networking.

A dashboard shows users which instances are unused or being underutilized and how much they are spending on which services. "Then we go one step further. We provide an actionable recommendation," said Cloudyn CEO Sharon Wagner.

After a week of analyzing usage patterns, Cloudyn presents the user with a set of optimization scenarios intended to cut costs. The scenarios show where adjustments could be made and how much money would be saved as a result. The adjustments may include choosing a different pricing option from the cloud provider, eliminating unused resources and combining resources to reduce networking costs.

The user can then decide whether to implement the changes.

Around 60 customers have been using a beta version of the service, which has been monitoring 45,000 virtual servers a day, Wagner said. The average saving for current customers has been 41 percent, he said.

The savings come primarily from two areas: because users tend to sign up for more cloud resources than they need, and because service providers introduce new pricing models that users might not have considered, he said.

Companies tend to overprovision when they first move to the cloud, because that's what they are accustomed to doing when building out on-premise resources, he said. Since the cloud is relatively new, companies are learning as they go. "They always overprovision when they move to the cloud because they don't know how the cloud behaves," Wagner said.

When users scale up in the cloud, they tend to simply duplicate their initial configuration, exacerbating the problem.

"They're missing the savings opportunities and promise of the cloud," Wagner said.

In addition, some users aren't keeping up with new prices. AWS, for instance, changed pricing almost 10 times in 2011, according to Wagner. Some plans allow a user to commit to a certain usage and pay less in return, he said.

After May 1, when the Cloudyn introductory offer ends, it will still be free to use the dashboard and analytics data. The optimization recommendations will be charged for based on how much the user is spending per month. On the high end, a customer with $80,000 worth of usage on Amazon in a month will pay $700 a month for the optimization service. Up to $30,000 in spending a month will cost $300, $10,000 a month will cost $140, and $4,000 a month will cost $80.

Cloudyn isn't alone in trying to help companies optimize their cloud spending but thinks it has an edge with its recommendations to reduce spending. Other providers do make some recommendations, though. Cloudability, for instance, monitors usage and sets off an alarm when the usage hits a certain threshold, so that companies aren't surprised by a huge bill. It also makes suggestions for how to reduce costs.

While cloud service providers may start to offer more of their own monitoring tools, Wagner thinks it unlikely they will offer tools to monitor other cloud services. Since businesses often use cloud services from different providers, Cloudyn could eventually offer a single monitoring tool for them all.

Nancy Gohring covers mobile phones and cloud computing for The IDG News Service. Follow Nancy on Twitter at @idgnancy. Nancy's e-mail address is Nancy_Gohring@idg.com

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