VMware's Maritz: Metrics Help Make Cloud Decisions

Such metrics not only can help businesses determine whether to move to the cloud and which clouds may be best for their applications, they can also help businesses determine how best to offer services to their customers, said Paul Maritz, VMware president and CEO.

Maritz discussed the metrics of cloud computing as part of his keynote presentation at EMC World, this week in Las Vegas.

While both IT administrators and end-users will benefit from cloud computing, one of the primary challenges to the move has been the lack of metrics that could determine the return on investment in cloud computing, or determine which type of cloud in which to invest. But that is changing, Maritz said.

Instead of a single metric, Maritz said that measuring the benefit of cloud computing can be determined by answering such questions as what is the cost of provisioning a single virtual machine, how long does that provisioning take, what is the cost per GB of storage, and how much does it cost to provision an e-mail box.

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These are all data points a CIO could provide a user, who could then compare to the expected costs of working with another cloud such as one from Amazon or Rackspace. "Now for the first time, we have a standard of measure," he said.

VMware, for instance, estimated that it costs the company 6 cents per hour to run a virtual machine, and that its processors are running at about a 60 percent utilization, Maritz said. The company can compare this to a rate of between 2 cents and 20 cents per hour at different cloud organizations, depending on the size of the virtual machine to understand where it stands, he said.

IT departments can also use these metrics to talk to consumers of its technology to determine whether the cost of using internal resources justifies their use, or whether a new service should be outsourced to an external cloud, Maritz said.