Inventory your VMs and calculate their cost in the cloud

A free app from SolarWinds quickly calculates what it would cost to run your VMs on Amazon EC2, Windows Azure, and Rackspace

Did you ever wonder how much it would cost to run your virtual infrastructure in the cloud? If not, your boss and the bean counters in finance probably have, and it's only a matter of time before they ask you, "Why aren't we trying to save money by running our data center in the cloud?"

Public cloud providers such as Amazon EC2 make their pricing publicly available online, but it requires some mapping on your part to get an accurate estimate. Sometimes it might even feel like you need a degree in cloud computing number-crunching just to find anything remotely interesting. Pricing can be fairly complicated, but that's one of the trade-offs you might expect when dealing with usage-based pricing.

[ Also on InfoWorld.com: Read about a new startup launching a SaaS cloud monitoring solution called RevealCloud | And read how another new startup, Bromium aims to secure application clouds and virtual desktops. | Keep up-to-date on virtualization by signing up for InfoWorld's Virtualization newsletter. ]

Many people think that moving to the cloud will dramatically lower their costs; in reality, there are many cases where costs can actually go up. On first glance, cloud pricing doesn't seem like it will cost that much when you are talking about a few cents here and there per hour. But once you figure out the true usage of your environment, and do some simple math over the course of a month, a quarter, or a year, costs can turn out to be fairly substantial.

The first step for many will be to learn some new "cloud" terminology. Before you begin, you may need to define what a cloud provider like Amazon means by an "instance," "elastic load balancing," "elastic compute units," or "elastic block storage." Once you get the terminology down, you can try your hand at something like Amazon's "simple" monthly calculator. Once you understand all of the different input fields that are required, you'll need to know some pretty detailed information about your own environment, from its hardware and OS makeup to its hourly/monthly resource usage.

Seems simple enough, right? Sure, if you have a handful of simple virtualization host servers in your environment, that's probably true. But what happens if your virtual environment is further along and scaled up and scaled out? This type of calculation could be pretty tricky, but now, "there's an app for that."

SolarWinds has released a new free tool that you might want to consider adding to your virtualization management tool belt. This free application removes the manual guesswork and helps businesses to automatically calculate the cost of moving their virtual machines to the cloud.

SolarWinds VM-to-Cloud Calculator

SolarWinds' VM-to-Cloud Calculator will automatically inventory your virtual machines and capture that information into a generated report. The user simply enters the IP address or name of their vSphere instance, followed by the username and password credentials for that environment. It connects to that vSphere instance and detects all of the virtual machines that are deployed in the environment, then maps an approximate cost of running those VMs in three different public cloud providers: Amazon EC2, Microsoft Windows Azure, and Rackspace.

Advanced settings are also made available to allow users to display costs hourly, monthly, quarterly, or yearly depending on how the organization handles its IT budgeting. You can also change the hosting location of your virtual machines; for example, you may choose to use Amazon's East Coast servers rather than its West Coast servers, or perhaps you need servers in Europe or somewhere in the APAC region.

As your virtualized environment changes, the VM-to-Cloud Calculator can also refine the estimates to better reflect your current VM inventory.

Even if you aren't planning on moving to the cloud anytime soon, this free application can still provide you with additional benefits beyond its intended use as a calculator. Instead of just figuring out costs, this tool can also be used to provide your organization with key infrastructure information, such as VM description, CPU, memory, storage, and a count of the number of VMs in the environment -- making this handy little application useful for baselining your environment and for gathering and reporting basic information across your evolving inventory.

This free calculator tool is available today and can be downloaded from the SolarWinds' website.

This article, "Inventory your VMs and calculate their cost in the cloud," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Follow the latest developments in virtualization at InfoWorld.com. For the latest business technology news, follow InfoWorld.com on Twitter.

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