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.