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Ben Kepes is an analyst, and entrepreneur, an commentator, and a business adviser. His interests include a diverse range of industries from manufacturing to property technology. As a commentator he has a broad presence both in the traditional media and as an extensive blogger. He sits on the boards of a number of organizations, both commercial and not-for-profit. Ben is a DZone MVB and is not an employee of DZone and has posted 197 posts at DZone. You can read more from them at their website. View Full User Profile

Controlling (and Identifying) Cloud Spend with Cloudability

07.05.2011
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One of the exciting companies I met with at the recent Structure Conference was Cloudability – in fact a number of commentators (well, myself and Paul Miller anyway) were a little shocked at the relatively poor ranking that the judges in the Structure Launchpad gave Cloudability – and we both expressed that shock publicly. Anyway – Cloudability have been called the “Mint.com for businesses on the Cloud” – basically they give a business visibility into their spend on cloud solutions – whether that be infrastructure spend or spend on SaaS applications.

Cloudability serves up a dashboard that quickly and clearly identifies where organizations are spending money and in doing so they aim to save businesses money as they identify expenditure that is no longer justified – those orphan apps that keep ticking over on someone’s credit card every month.

cloudability

Cloudability is very new – they launched only a matter of a few weeks ago – and at this stage they’re unsure about where they will take their product, be it enterprise or SMB. They’ve identified a couple of opportunities;

  • Giving enterprise CFOs visibility over organizational spend and hence the ability to gain oversight as to business unit expenditure on cloud solutions
  • An SMB play that monetizes via highly targeted offers (“given you industry type and use pattern, this other cloud service would save you x dollars per month”)

As I said, I was really impressed with what Cloudability is doing – they absolutely answer a pain point for cloud users. I do think they need to think long and hard about the direction they go in – I don’t really buy the enterprise play, I see them ending up butting heads with some pretty comprehensive spend management solutions from the likes of SAP and Oracle to make that viable. Secondly the logistics around integrating with all the services an enterprise might need and creating controls over all the different expenditure paths would be problematic. Part of my concerns around the enterprise play, beyond the fact that Cloudability competes with some solutions form some very big names in the industry, is he fact that Cloudability doesn’t close the loop on monitoring – I’ve reviewed a bunch of cloud monitoring products and have often commented that without the management part of the piece, it is less of a product than a feature. I put this to JR Storment from Cloudability – his answer was that by covering the entire SaaS world and offering insights into monetization across all cloud services, they offer a breadth that is valuable for customers and that deepening the offering would impact upon this ability. He also mentioned that Cloudability’s strategy focuses more on managing the messaging and notifications from discrete cloud services – all billing messages will be delivered up through the Cloudability – providing a one-stop discovery offering.

Where I totally see the potential for Cloudability however is as an SMB play. Mint.com has proven the value of a solution that delivers real value at zero cost to end users – by giving users highly contextual offers, they’ve managed to monetize their service, while providing a solution at no cost to SMBs, a sector that is loathe to actually spend money on this sort of solution. Storment identified this as a real possible area of development for Cloudability – he gave the example of offering customer who use (for example) Amazon servers the ability to tie in  monitoring service like NewRelic or Pingdom to assess the availability of those services.

Storment reports that he’s had some great feedback from enterprise CFOs who like he fact that Cloudability can give them the ability to gain visibility over “rogue IT” spending. While this may indeed be an attractive proposition for enterprise financial types – I struggle to see how they an avoid just having business units acquire cloud services outside of the Cloudability dashboard – thus rendering this opportunity somewhat moot.

Below is the video in full – excuse the poor sound quality – it was a noisy day at the Structure conference!

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Published at DZone with permission of Ben Kepes, author and DZone MVB. (source)

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