Clouds by the CPU Second ?
March 21, 2010 2:52 PM   Subscribe

Who (other than Google App Engine) offers cloud computing solutions measured by usage rather than time ? More inside ...

Google App Engine offers cloud computing measured not by how long the application is available for but how much it's used. I like that but I can't live with the lack of a relational database (GAE offers a datastore which is not really much like a RDBMS at all).

Other players (such as Amazon Web Services) charge by the hours which a resource is available for (regardless of whether it's used or not).

Anyone know of cloud offerings, other than Google App Engine, which are based on usage and not time available ?
posted by southof40 to Computers & Internet (8 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Rackspace Cloud offers cloud computing from the hosting side (as opposed to raw computational might, which it's NOT meant for, as you can't execute programs the same way).

What's your primary use of the cloud? If it's scalable hosting, they've got you covered, but I'm guessing not so much.
posted by disillusioned at 3:04 PM on March 21, 2010

AWS only charges per hour with EC2 (and I think RDS?) Most of their other services (S3, SQS, SDB, etc) charge either per byte or per request.
posted by neustile at 3:10 PM on March 21, 2010

It would be really, really hard to do this properly. The better relational databases (eg Oracle) do have ways to do per-user accounting, but they also have a long history of security bugs which let one user get at another's data, so you really want to have one instance per user. Once you've got that there's a high baseline cost, so why would you charge by usage?

S3 and App Engine worked around this by developing their own databases from the ground up, but implementing joins is really difficult, so they just skipped it.
posted by miyabo at 3:32 PM on March 21, 2010 [1 favorite]

Thanks for the answers so far.

@disillusioned - It is indeed scalable hosting (hosting that requires a RDBMS). I took a look at Rackspace Cloud. I was really after a solution which would cost a lot of if it was used lots and cost nothing if it wasn't used at all (which the GAE model). As far as I can see that's not what Rackspace are offering ? Or did I misunderstand ?

@neustile - Sorry I should have made it clearer. It's the provision of web-hosting that I'm wanting to use this for so Amazon solution, EC2, doesn't fit what I was interested in.

@miyabo - Hmmm yes I realise the RDBMS was the chokepoint but I wondered whether someone had come up with an offering for it.

Happy to hear any other ideas !
posted by southof40 at 3:37 PM on March 21, 2010

Could you just start with a small VPS running your RDBMS of choice and scale it up as you need it? You can get a small VPS for around $10 a month, which is close enough to 0 for most purposes.
posted by miyabo at 4:11 PM on March 21, 2010

Microsoft SQL Azure: Data transfers = $0.10 in / $0.15 out / GB

There's a 10GB cap, so after 10GB you need to implement some sort of sharding.
posted by geoff. at 4:51 PM on March 21, 2010 [1 favorite]

The whole 'cloud' idea doesn't cover both EC2 and Google App Engine; they have almost nothing in similar. The 'cloud' is possibly a term for hardware abstraction to the point of REST endpoints, which EC2 covers and Google App Engine does sort of. But Google App Engine (and Rackspace Cloud) are servers, while Google App Engine is basically a sandboxed application environment - so it's much easier to measure 'CPU cycles' or a metric like that on the latter. There are, of course, things very much like Google App Engine - Heroku, for one.
posted by tmcw at 7:54 PM on March 21, 2010

*in common.
posted by tmcw at 7:54 PM on March 21, 2010

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