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One myth of public cloud services is that is cheaper compared to private services, but it’s (or it could be) wrong. The reality is that you don’t have CapEx and you have usually monthly OpEx.

But in the long (or sometimes also in the short) term could become more costly rather than an on-prem solution. Of course it depends by the service type and the real OpEx cost of your on-prem solution (sometimes not so easy to evaluate).

But also public cloud services may have some costs that are not so easy to be evaluated or estimated. Some services provider are really good by bring the credit and the cost much visible as possible, some others maybe not (or not yet).

cloud-backupLet’s make an example: I’ve used vCloud Air in a trial period with some free credit to do some tests.

First issue that I’ve got is gain those credits… Something went wrong during the registration and there was no way to gain the credits… I had to ask to support and after some weeks they don’t really solve the issue, because I have to register with another account. But I’ve spend some time for it… and yet was a free credit, but probably the support wasn’t (see the final part of the story).

Of course you have to give a credit card also for a free credit, but this does not change so much from other public cloud services: it’s a way to have a strong (?) verification and of course it’s a way to start charging when the trial or the free credit expires (this seems not a real issue, but again there will a surprise in the final part of this story).

CloudFinally I got the service and was able to test. It’s a promising IaaS service, but still little limited compare with other services. And the user interface need to be improved, in order to make always clear what’s your credit (you have to look at it in the menu) and what’s the cost of each service that you are choosing.

Availability information and notification are pretty good for planned maintenance, with detailed email when services goes, not so good when some region are starving (the example was during the VMworld US in the California region, that was pretty unusable, at the for the On Demand service).

Now the real issues: the free credit probably was expired one month ago but I never got an email notification. And in the user interface you don’t see nothing, unless you try to see explicit your remaining credit!

I’ve used a few services to do other test, but nothing in the user interface has notify me that those service has been charged or that my credit was vanished. Ok, you use a service for few hours, public cloud is cheap… isn’t it?

Now I’ve receive an invoice for the services that I have used after the trial and I’ve notice that isn’t so cheat!

And with some interesting surprise like:

  • VMware vCloud Air OnDemand Services – Online Support – One Time Charge Support Fee 1.78 1 €1.78
  • VMware vCloud Air – Virtual Private Cloud OnDemand B1A – IP Address – 1 Hour Usage IP-Hour 0.02832 632.824 €17.92

Other costs were really cheap, but the support was a big surprise? Which kind of support?! I’ve only ask help during the registration and the issue wasn’t solved (and anyway I’ve way a week!). Maybe is not this, but WTF? No info on the support case or the date when you have used the support.

The other surprise was the public IP… Not so much cheap for one IP in one month. And strange because I’ve dismiss the resources that were using it. But probably the edge was still there. Reasonable, but again, it’s not reasonable the user interface wasn’t notify me that some resources were still in use.

And not acceptable that you receive an invoice without ANY notification before on the resources that you are consuming. Again, yes… it’s up to you be aware on what are you consunging, but a better communication could be better. And send an invoice with no sending contact (the email is a “dontreplay” one) it’s not fair: I have to open a case to the support for it?! With a new 1.78$ fee?

Are still few Euros, but an interesting lesson on how a cloud can have “hidden” or not clear costs. And how easy could be shift from a trial to a costly service.

I’ve took this example, but same could be applied to other services: computing resources could be really easy to be evaluated (especially in a IaaS service), but other resources can much complicated because maybe you don’t consider them (like a public IP) or because you cannot really estimate (like the download bandwidth if you reach the maximum in some services).

When you sing for a public cloud service, also for a trial, you have to manage it and check constantly at and the resources that you are consuming and the costs.

For more information on cloud related concepts see those other posts:


Virtualization, Cloud and Storage Architect. Tech Field delegate. VMUG IT Co-Founder and board member. VMware VMTN Moderator and vExpert 2010-24. Dell TechCenter Rockstar 2014-15. Microsoft MVP 2014-16. Veeam Vanguard 2015-23. Nutanix NTC 2014-20. Several certifications including: VCDX-DCV, VCP-DCV/DT/Cloud, VCAP-DCA/DCD/CIA/CID/DTA/DTD, MCSA, MCSE, MCITP, CCA, NPP.