Is it fair to round the CPU usage of a virtual machine to the nearest hour when charging customers for cloud computing? We were curious about this so we thought we would ask the Internet. Of course, we wanted to get people’s opinions on cloud pricing overall so we asked about more than just the rounding of CPU use. We are not statisticians so the approach we took was rather simple, and took the form of an online survey. Our audience was a broad group of people involved in software, and included many independent developers, as well as those working as part of an organization.
When making the decision to go with a particular platform, by far the most important factors were the cost and quality of service. Surprisingly, brand name and trust was only somewhat important for many developers, especially those who were independent. The importance of brand name and trust was higher for those making the decision for teams and organizations.
The question we were most interested in was which pricing model was most appealing to users. The results showed that customers preferred to be charged a flat fee per month for a virtual machine – the Digital Ocean model. A similar model of paying a flat fee per month for a cloud application was also deemed fair. The most prevalent model used by AWS, Azure and many other providers of charging per unit of resource used was not particularly appealing when compared to the flat-fee approaches. Interestingly, those surveyed said that when their cloud applications exceeded a certain cost (when being charged per resource usage), they actually preferred if they were switched automatically to a flat-fee model for the remainder of the billing period instead of having their applications suspended. This seems to indicate that when it comes to pricing, users are finding being charged per unit of resource consumed complex and unpredictable. They strongly favor a pricing model that allows them to have a predictable cost per month.
Finally, to answer to the original question: is it fair to round to the nearest hour when charging users for CPU use? A most definite no.
While the results seem to indicate some solid opinions, I do want to point out that the survey is still open and if you have experience with cloud platforms and want to opine – follow the link below to our survey: