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Is vCloud Air a better deal than Azure, AWS?

Attempting to compare costs of similar services from different cloud computing providers can be frustrating, but there are ways to determine which works best for your needs.

How do vCloud Air prices compare to similar cloud providers?

Pricing for cloud computing services can vary dramatically based on the competitive nature of the marketplace, the demand for services and the overall evolution of computing technologies. As a result, it's difficult to quote exact costs between services like VMware vCloud Air, Microsoft Azure, Amazon EC2 and others on a comparative basis.

Before making broad-scale deployments with a particular vendor, shop around and experiment with trial runs. This gives a business the ability to evaluate whether there are issues with downtime, migrating workloads, billing and customer support.

Cloud pricing is based on a variety of features, including compute (CPU and memory), storage capacity and bandwidth; prices start for a minimum level of service. For example, vCloud's top-of-the-line Dedicated Cloud service guarantees a minimum of 120 GB of vRAM and 30 GHz of CPU cycles for $0.08 per GB per hour. At 24 hours per day and the number of days per month, expect the compute portion of this service to cost around $7,000. Standard SAS storage costs $0.06 per GB per month (not per hour), so the minimum cost for 6 TB would be about $360 per month. Note that pricing is for a volume of service and does not specify the number of VMs supported by that service. Other service classes like VMware's virtual private cloud or disaster recovery cloud carry different pricing structures, and additional capacity for any service can be adjusted through negotiations.

Azure and AWS have similar themes, but are priced a bit differently. For example, Azure prices a range of general instances from extra small to extra large -- each with differing levels of processor and memory space, ranging from $0.02 per hour to $0.72 per hour ($15 to $536 per month). Azure also provides a variety of configurations for memory-intensive and compute-intensive workloads, each with different per-hour and per-month pricing schemes. Amazon supplies similar pricing for a range of instance sizes, along with specialized instances for compute-, GPU-, memory- or storage-optimized tasks.

But there is more to picking a cloud service than price. Consider the available add-on services and the impact of those extras on monthly costs. For example, VMware provides data protection services supporting up to 1 TB of storage for $0.43 per GB per month, along with offline data transfers handling up to 11 TB for $250 each transfer.

Don't forget that the real purpose of a hybrid cloud is to move workloads to and from a public cloud -- or clouds -- easily and as needed. Any public cloud evaluation should include a migration assessment showing the process and difficulty involved with moving a cloud workload back in-house or shifting the workload to another public cloud provider as needs and capabilities change.

Next Steps

VMware rebrands its cloud service vCHS to VMware vCloud Air

What licensing is required to use vCloud Air?

This was last published in September 2014

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