Cloud Cruiser Tracks Service Usage to Simplify Chargebacks

Cloud Cruiser will be launching a hosted service to track use for private, hybrid and public clouds so that IT can accurately calculate chargebacks to each department.

The "pay for what you use" model may spur cloud adoption among organizations, but IT departments still have to figure out how to charge individual departments for what they use.

Cloud Cruiser announced a platform on Mar. 1 that collects machine use data about what storage, networking and cloud applications are being accessed, Dave Zabrowski, CEO and founder of Cloud Cruiser, told eWEEK. The information is correlated with user information obtained from LDAP and other user-management systems, he said.

"There's serious money moving to the cloud," and companies need to be sure about how it's being spent, Zabrowski said.

The Cloud Cruiser software would be available as either a hosted service or as an on-premise product that IT manages internally, Zabrowski said. The company will be announcing a free "test drive" as a software as a service solution on Mar. 8 and a beta version of the on-premise software is expected June 1. Cloud Cruiser is targeting Aug. 29 for the official release of the software. Anyone interested in the trial can channel their organization's real use data through Cloud Cruiser to get a feel for how it works, Zabrowski said. However, Zabrowski declined to discuss pricing at this time.

The on-premise solution would be attractive to users concerned about the volume of data being collected in the cloud, Zabrowski said.

The software can collect and correlate cloud use based on IP addresses, which would allow the IT manager to calculate costs per data center, Zabrowski said. The dashboard interface allows managers to define groups based on type of device, business unit, geographic location or data center. Customers have to enter resource information manually and set up the hierarchical tree of the organization to track the data by group.

IT managers can also use the detailed use data to look for ways to cut costs, understand who is using which services and find instances of usage abuse. The IT administrator can view a variety of reports that slice and dice the data across multiple metrics, such as a chart of the Top 10 users of resources by business division. The reports allow the administrator to drill down in each division to see what individual employees are using, he said.

With the Cloud Cruiser platform, companies "know how much a workload costs, and they know at a granular level who is using that workload, and then they can make decisions to optimize costs," said Zabrowski.

The information is available to all levels of the company, according to Zabrowski. A CIO of an organization could log in and see the information of the entire cloud, with use information for all services and users. In contrast, a department director would see use information for only users associated with the business unit. The dashboard can also provide individual employees with a view of their personal use.

Users often adjust their behavior when they can see exactly what they are doing, Zabrowski said.

The software is "100 percent" Java, according to Zabrowski, and uses the Spring framework, Google Web Toolkit and REST APIs. The system uses Jasper Reports for the reporting component, and stores all the data in a MySQL database, he said.

Cloud Cruise has built hooks to many existing cloud services, and more are planned, according to Zabrowski. The LDAP integration allows organizations to set up single-sign-on into the dashboard, he said.