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The great cloud rip-off

Kevin Kivlochan, Director of Sales & Marketing at ONI plc, argues that it is time for a better, fairer, less complex cloud pricing mode

We’re all used to hearing about the virtues of the big players in cloud computing, namely AWS, Google and Azure. Let’s face it, they must have done something right to be so dominant in the market. But what was once positioned as a simple and easy-to-embrace proposition, compared to an on-premise alternative, has become, quite frankly, a mathematical nightmare that primarily benefits the suppliers and not their customers.

While a very simple and basic cloud service setup can be appealingly low-cost (or even free) for start-ups and small businesses, medium-sized and larger organisations are discovering that this low bar to entry ultimately comes at an unexpected price.

If you’re at all familiar with cloud pricing models, you’ll know that they can go from simple to extremely complex in less time than it takes to spin up a Linux server. These almost impenetrable pricing systems make it difficult for business leaders and financial officers to keep track all of the costs and charges. No wonder they question whether the cloud is really worth all the effort in the first place.

Choices, choices

In the good old days (circa 2006), pay-as-you-go cloud services, most notably AWS, were a relatively new, ground-breaking and feature-limited thing. Options were limited to a handful of services and prices were favourable. You got to pay for what you used without buying the whole farm, so to speak. Fast forward to the present and you’ll find that AWS now offers a staggering 200+ products across 70 services. Not so simple anymore.

But don’t worry, AWS has its very own ‘Simple Monthly Calculator’. So simple in fact, that there’s even a new growth market of third party tools to help you make the most of it. Inevitably, if you offer such a breadth of products and services, simplicity is going to be one of the first things thrown out the window. Google and Azure aren’t too far behind either. They all have a myriad of options and, more recently, a series of pricing incentives that cover a whole host of lock-in scenarios including reserving future usage pricing and usage discounts when thresholds rise above certain percentiles.

It’s slightly ironic to think that while compute, storage and other cloud prices are dropping through mass adoption and economies of scale, more and more businesses are experiencing a disturbing rise in overall costs. At least, that’s what many CFOs seem to think.

The best of all possible worlds

But let’s assume for the moment that the current wisdom of moving a substantial amount of your business services to the cloud – hybrid or otherwise – is the right course of action. How do you work out your best option? After all, an identically specified server on AWS, Azure or Google is still an identically specified server, is it not? Think of it a bit like a utility such as electricity or gas. Have you ever found yourself thinking that the electricity/gas supplied to households in the south is of far better quality than those in the north?

Whilst I accept that there are many more choices of cloud provider than there are consumer utility equivalents, the similarity between the two services is not a redundant one. Indeed, as consumers, we are seeing governmental intervention to improve service, value and price transparency in the electricity market for the very same reasons something similar is needed with cloud services – the pricing/value model for most businesses has gotten so complex and confusing that we really don’t know how to spot a good or a bad deal until it’s far too late.

It’s high time that cloud services got a simpler costing model.

What price paradise?

At ONI, we have introduced an open, easy to understand and price transparent tariff system for all our cloud services. Comprising just 12 product lines, what was once a complex service selection minefield is now easier to understand and fairer to cloud customers. That’s it, a dozen options that cover everything you’ll need for your hybrid or cloud solution today and, more importantly, tomorrow.

Do you remember when mobile phones first came out? Back in the day, it was common to pay as much as 50p per call and 10p per text. What a rip-off! But we all paid it and pretended it was okay. Can you imagine any company trying this on today? Yet the cloud is still clinging onto most of its historic pricing models: models where you pay for both your ingress and egress usage; models where pretty much everything is billed individually, down to the minutiae.

Is anyone actually surprised that many businesses are opting to do things for themselves, preferring bare-metal solutions and bringing services back in-house? It’s not what they really want to do; it’s driven by hard economics.

Just like the mobile industry, change is inevitable in the cloud. So why wait? Why not force the change now? ONI has reached the point where we need to respond positively to growing customer demands and simplify our solution offerings, by adopting a model that is transparent, reasonably priced and all-inclusive. Don’t get me wrong, there’s no one size-fits-all solution out there – no more than there is for mobile phones. You don’t, however, need hundreds of selectable add-ons to realise your perfect cloud solution.

Are we doing anything revolutionary here? I don’t think so. We’re addressing an issue that should have changed some time ago. Are we doing the right thing for customers? Absolutely.

If you’re even a little bit curious to check out what I’m suggesting, just get in touch with us and we can demonstrate how Cloud and Hybrid should be done. But don’t feel bad if you don’t. After all, some people still think the earth is flat…

For more about ONI and its cloud and hybrid offerings, go to or call 01582 429 999

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