Cloud computing: Beware cost overruns

The touted cost savings associated with cloud services didn't pan out for Ernie Neuman, not because the savings weren't real, but because the use of the service got out of hand.

When he worked in IT for the Cole & Weber advertising firm in Seattle two and a half years ago, Neuman enlisted cloud services from a provider called Tier3, but had to bail because the costs quickly overran the budget. He was a victim of what he calls cloud sprawl -- the uncontrolled growth of virtual servers as developers set them up at will, then abandoned them to work on other servers without shutting down the servers they no longer needed.

Where he expected the developers to use up to 25 virtual servers, the actual number hit 70 or so. "The bills were out of control compared with what the business planned to spend," he says.

CLOUD SECURITY: Interop: Cloud services take a beating in debate over security 

He tried modifying policies around use of the virtual servers so they could be used only from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. But that didn't work either because, inevitably, deadlines had to be met that required violating the new policy.

Ultimately, the business built its own VMware cloud that supports up to 100 virtual servers.

Since then Neumann has moved on to being IT director for Big Fish Games, which makes computer and online games, and where he has given cloud service another shot, but with similar results.

Big Fish hired server capacity from Amazon to launch an experimental Facebook game. "Then the game was very successful," he says. "It was great to be in the cloud because it could scale so quickly, but the costs got out of control."

So again he pulled the content from the cloud and hosted the game in-house, a move that paid for itself in three months with the savings from not having to pay the cloud bill, he says. "Performance issues didn't drive the change," he says, but the experience has jaded him a bit. "Now we're cloud averse. We don't even talk about it."

1 2 Page
FREE Computerworld Insider Guide: IT Certification Study Tips
Editors' Picks
Join the discussion
Be the first to comment on this article. Our Commenting Policies