UptimeCloud shows real-time AWS costs

Uptime Software is the latest company to try to help AWS users control spending

Uptime Software is the latest company aiming to help eliminate bill shock for cloud users.

UptimeCloud is a new hosted cloud cost-monitoring service for Amazon Web Services users. The service is meant to help users predict and manage spending on AWS.

The service should be useful to both new and veteran cloud users because most cloud users struggle to predict and control costs, said Nick Johnson, director of marketing for Uptime. One UptimeCloud beta customer aptly described the process of spinning up cloud services as "deploy, pray and pay," he said.

UptimeCloud has a dashboard where users can see the real-time cost of their AWS usage; view forecasts of their bill by the hour, day, week, month or year; and see recommendations for how to cut costs.

The forecasting element lets users set a monthly budget and receive an alert when costs are projected to surpass the budget. When users make changes to their cloud usage, UptimeCloud shows users how those changes will impact costs.

Users can also see important details of cloud usage across an enterprise. Customers can view costs by application, project, user, location, account, instance and other factors. They can also view cost forecasts based on those factors.

UptimeCloud offers more detailed metrics than some of its competitors because it integrates with AWS using Amazon's APIs (application programming interfaces), the company said. Most other cost-tracking services collect pricing data by using a customer's AWS login credentials. But in addition to that being a security risk, it doesn't give the service provider the depth of detail that UptimeCloud offers, said Alex Bewley, Uptime's CTO. For instance, UptimeCloud is able to access and analyze daily variations in consumption and the related costs, which could be useful to heavy users of AWS spot instances, while other services can't track daily usage trends, the company said.

UptimeCloud also tracks individual AWS users through the identity and access management tool that Amazon offers customers. That means UptimeCloud displays information about resources being used by individual people in a business.

UptimeCloud also makes some recommendations for how users can cut costs, but for now those recommendations are largely based on ways to better take advantage of AWS pricing options. It won't help users pinpoint underused resources that might be consolidated to save costs.

Beta users of the product said they didn't want that level of detail yet, Bewley said. In the future, Uptime expects to add recommendations related to underused instances, he said.

Uptime isn't alone among companies trying to help cloud users manage their spending. Cloudyn recently launched its service for AWS, helping users identify underutilized resources and making recommendations for how to cut costs. Cloudability also monitors cloud usage for customers, setting off alarms at specified thresholds and making suggestions for reining in costs.

All the companies also have Amazon to worry about. Amazon told Uptime that it wants to offer more features for customers to track usage and spending, but adding those features is low on its priority list, Bewley said.

In the meantime, Amazon has indicated it welcomes companies like Uptime that provide this kind of service, the executives said. "They're happy for us to remove the uncertainty" around costs, said Johnson.

Exorbitant bills can lead to CIOs forbidding IT departments from using cloud services. "In talking to the AWS folks, what they're finding is that cloud bill shock can ruin it for everybody," Bewley said.

Businesses can try UptimeCloud for 30 days free. Otherwise, they'll pay for the service based on the number of instances they have running on AWS. On the lower end, customers using 101 to 250 instances will pay US$295 a month, 1,001 to 2,500 instances will pay $1,845 a month and 5,001 to 10,000 instances will pay $5,945 per month.

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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