XOcur Offers Cloud Service To Assist In Selecting The Right Cloud Service

For many end users and a good number of solution providers, the most difficult thing about using the cloud is picking the right one to use.

With an ever-increasing number of service providers and a jumble of complex options and pricing schedules, the process alone of choosing a cloud can be daunting for the uninitiated.

XOcur, a software vendor based in Dallas, offers a cloud-based service that aims to empower users to choose cloud-based services.

[Related: VMware: Our Public Cloud Performs Better Than Amazon and Microsoft, And It's Much Cheaper]

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"We're all about making the cloud decision-making process simple, straightforward and informed," Jason Monden, the company's president, told CRN.

A lot of businesses are interested in taking the plunge into the cloud, Monden said, "but there's too much choice, complexity and confusion. We saw an increasing number of people either paralyzed on the sidelines, or saying I'm not sure what to go with, so they just pick something and get a really bad experience, either with performance or cost."

What those potential cloud consumers need is information to help them make an informed decision of what their requirements are from an application perspective. But many business customers don't have the resources to think through such a technology investment.

XOcur seeks to simplify that process with a product called CloudSphere -- a SaaS platform for empowering decision makers by listing side-by-side important decision-making factors.

In addition to comparing and contrasting price and performance, CloudSphere assesses other criteria, like security, customer service and regional availability. XOcur also created a scoring system for those criteria that measures experiences through a social media community of cloud users, collectively functioning as an information service.

And after the customer deploys the most suitable cloud, CloudSphere continues monitoring utilization, configurations and market conditions. The service will alert users to better deals should they come to market.

"Our platform knows what all the services are capable of. So if AWS comes out with a new instance type, it can save customers lots of money," Monden told CRN.

XOcur has been reaching out to VARs and systems integrators that have two choices for how to leverage the technology to boost their businesses.

"We designed it to be inexpensive. Some folks are looking to resell to customers, others using it as a tool," Monden said.

Andy Lewis, CIO at Kovarus, a Silicon Valley-based systems integrator, told CRN that the information XOcur provides Kovarus facilitates a fact-based approach to substantiating the right options for its customers.

"It provides peace of mind for us and our customers, not only knowing they are getting the optimal price point, but a solution that meets the needs of their business applications. Providing a confident, dependable operating model to our customers allows them to focus on moving their business forward rather than fixing issues related to resolving false cloud expectations," Lewis said.

Lewis told CRN that whether it's Kovarus' own consultants, or the company's customers that use the XOcur software, the objective is always to understand IT's "cost-to-serve" and consider several private and public cloud options.

"Our customers are overwhelmed with thousands of cloud possibilities that have different attributes that may or may not be relevant to their IT workloads. XOcur's software normalizes the business requirements and each cloud offering to make recommendations that are fit-for-purpose.

NEXT: Evaluating Private And Hybrid Clouds

After CloudSphere users like Kovarus enter requirements like resource needs, duration of use, whether they want just an OS -- or perhaps also a database, utilization characteristics, and service provider criteria like compliance, region, even information about specific data centers -- the software returns a tear-off sheet itemizing services to be provisioned. The solutions are organized by OpEx, CapEx and total expenditure value, while showing ratings from social media sentiment analysis, like reliability and service.

The sheet can be integrated with various configuration management tools like Chef that will orchestrate the deployment.

CloudSphere's decision-making engine also evaluates private and hybrid clouds.

"We have the ability to onboard your private cloud just as we would a service provider. The same benchmarking mechanisms are in place as far as determining cost-to-serve. We onboard you so your private cloud shows up on the budget scenario page, and the same tools that monitor price and performance include your private cloud. It shows how it would look like deployed on your premise to how it would look like deployed externally. That can help justify the move to public cloud, or could help you justify your internal deployments," Monden told CRN.

"People don't have a clue how to align what their application needs are to what you would buy at Amazon, let alone how to make an apples-to-apples comparison of what you would get at Amazon to what you would get at Google," Monden said.

While CloudSphere currently only evaluates Amazon Web Services and Google offerings, in this coming third fiscal quarter, it will add Microsoft Azure, SoftLayer and Rackspace.

Lewis told CRN that the XOcur team has gone to great lengths to service the needs of Kovarus and its clients.

"They have developed some of their software specifically to the needs of our customers based on our requests. They are, and need to be, experts on everything cloud," Lewis told CRN.