How To Guy

Pricing the Cloud with Free Tools

Cloud pricing calculators can give you a rough estimate of what the costs will be, but with caveats.

Last time, I talked about many of the problems with infrastructure as a service (IaaS) public cloud pricing: public pricing typically isn't posted, there aren't standard pricing models, there's no tiered pricing, and more. In this article, let's cover some of the free options available to price the public cloud.
I have never used Amazon EC2, but I found that many of the cloud pricing options I looked at compared themselves to Amazon. Amazon created something called the Amazon EC2 Compute Unit, which is equivalent to about 1Ghz of CPU. has you input the amount of ECU (really the CPU capacity) that you need plus memory, storage, bandwidth, and the price you were quoted to see how that compares to other cloud solutions. It does this by turning your stats into something called a "CPN" or Cloud Price Normalization (which adds compute, memory, storage, bandwidth and divides by price).

Cloud Price Calculator

Figure 1. Cloud Price Calculator. (Click image to view larger version.)

Solarwinds VM to Cloud Calculator
Another tool I wanted to try out is the free Solarwinds VM to Cloud Calculator. I thought that this tool was innovative because it actually connects to my existing VMware vSphere infrastructure and, based on the real running VMs inside my vSphere installation, it tells me what it would cost to run those VMs across numerous cloud services.

While this tool is really powerful, I hope that, in the future, they will add more cloud service providers than just Amazon, Windows Azure, and Rackspace (all VMware vCloud datacenter providers?)

Solarwinds VM to Cloud Calculator

Figure 2. Solarwinds VM to Cloud Calculator (Click image to view larger version.)

VMware's Cloud Yellow Pages
VMware's latest update to their webpage brings a lot of welcome changes. They now have a very complete directory of vCloud providers from around the world. You can sort and filter these by the type of provider, where they are, and if they offer a test drive. The piece that is missing is the pricing. Why not make this a cloud marketplace where you can compare the prices between all of these companies and select the one that has the lowest cost?

VMware Cloud Yellow Pages

Figure 3. VMware's Cloud Yellow Pages (Click image to view larger version.)

I hope that VMware will do that in the near future. In the mean time, this is a great place to find providers and request free trials of their services.

My Take
I am trying to embrace the cloud and I ask others to do the same. However, with no pricing standards and apples-to-apples features between providers, the cloud becomes a tough sell. For that reason, I try to welcome any free tools that can make moving to the cloud easy and affordable.

Still, I have to remain realistic and keep in mind that when big vendors create a free pricing tool there is usually an ulterior motive of trying to get us to buy their products (whether they are a cloud vendor or not). As this article, Cloud Calculators: A Sign of Slick Marketing in the Cloud, points out, many free calculators out there are trying to sway our dollars one way or another. Even then, I recommend that you try out all the free tools you can, for yourself, because most every time you use one you learn something about that company's cloud service or your own infrastructure that you are trying to move to the cloud.

What tools have you seen to help you "price the cloud"? What pieces must be filled in, in the cloud computing model, before you are ready to make the move?

About the Author

David Davis is a well-known virtualization and cloud computing expert, author, speaker, and analyst. David’s library of popular video training courses can be found at To contact David about his speaking schedule and his latest project, go to


Subscribe on YouTube