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Taking advantage of cloud pricing or instance type news

UPDATED 3/26 AFTER AWS PRICE DROP

Tuesday at their GCPLive event, Google announced a 32% price drop on all sizes of instance types in all regions.  A continuation of a public cloud war, this comes on the heels of a RightScale analysis on Friday that showed that the top four public cloud providers (AWS, Google, Azure, and Rackspace) dropped prices 25 times in 2013 after doing so 22 times in 2012.

And then Wednesday at it’s AWS Summit event in San Francisco, AWS announced a series of price drops, the most eye grabbing being a 38% drop on M3 pricing.

Price isn’t the only weapon in this public cloud war, though.  On November 5th of last year, Rackspace announced a new instance type based on Intel Xeon processors with more RAM, better CPU performance, and better bandwidth than their previous offerings.  Not to be outdone, later in the same month AWS announced three new instance type families (the I2, the C3, and the G2) also using Intel Xeon processors or NVIDIA GPUs, with better IOPS and more RAM to CPU combinations than before.  Then they announced a 4th, the M3 in January.

All that clearly points to an IaaS landscape that is still changing constantly.  The question then becomes, how do you take advantage of a change in pricing or a new instance type?

Being Prepared for the Inevitable Change to Come

If we’ve learned anything about IaaS vendors in the last six months it’s that they will continue to try to outdo each other for the foreseeable future.  It used to be, when you were selecting infrastructure to run your apps on you were making a 3-5 year commitment to that choice.  Now if you do that it’s suicide because you never know when the next big price drop or instance type will come along and completely blow away whatever price-performance modeling you based your decision on in the first place.

In 2014, what you have to do is:

  1. Regularly evaluate the price-performance ratio of all alternatives
  2. Be prepared to move when that price-performance ratio changes enough to make a difference to your bottom line

Let’s examine those one at a time.

Evaluating Price-Performance of All Alternatives

What “evaluating” really means is benchmarking.  As in, benchmarking your actual application on the alternative you are considering.  Don’t trust some generic Unixbench that tells you a little bit about general characteristics of VM performance, but create a JMeter script for your actual webapp that you can reuse for these regular evaluations so you have consistent transactions per second measures.

CliQr provides an easy way to do that with our benchmarking feature.  As highlighted recently when we benchmarked a 3 tier, 4 VM Spring Framework Pet Store Java application on AWS and then GCE for instance size tuning within the tiers, you can use the same tool to run your actual application in a cloud vs cloud bakeoff regularly.  What you’ll get out of that is a nice graph that shows your price-performance choices, like this one from the GCE testing we did:

GCE-PetClinic-CliQr-R12

 

With CliQr CloudCenter, you can generate the price-performance data you need to determine whether or not that latest announcement actually helps you or not.  What do you do when that go/no-go decision tells you to jump?

UPDATE 3/26/14 2:11p PDT: See for yourself how easy re-running a benchmark with a CliQr Application Profile is by reading our new blog post on the 3-tier Java Webapp we reran after  Google’s pricing announcement.

Migrating Applications Between Clouds

Over the past year, CliQr CloudCenter has seen feature growth that makes monitoring and long term management of applications easy but our roots are as a migration tool.  From the start, we viewed migration not just as a one-time thing, but a task you might perform several times in the lifetime of an application as the IaaS landscape changes.

To migrate application files, is trivial:

migrate1

From your Runs tab, view your Deployments, select one, and push the Migrate button.  From there, you get your choice of enabled clouds to move your application to (AWS, GCE, and HP Public Cloud shown below in our Free Test Flight, more choices are available with a paid plan):

migrate2

Migrating your data requires some SQL scripting, but we handle the storage and movement of that data across cloud vendors.

Conclusion

There will be plenty more announcements like the one we heard from Google and AWS this week.  IaaS pricing has yet to find it’s bottom and vendors will continue to be creative in the benefits of different instance types as the market continues to mature.  None of that matters, though, if you don’t put yourself in a position to take advantage of these announcements, have a deterministic way of discovering whether or not a migration makes sense, and have a low cost way of moving when the price-performance suits you.

This is exactly CliQr’s value proposition.  We honestly don’t care who wins the IaaS war.  Instead, we want to put tools in the hands of our customers that let them manage their apps for the long haul across this changing IaaS market.  Try it yourself for free and see what we’re talking about.

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