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April 9, 2014

Is cloud computing about to get cheaper because of Linux?

Elastichosts claims its by-the-hour billing system is 50% cheaper than Amazon.

By Joe Curtis

Cloud could finally prove cheaper than on-premise thanks to a new Linux-based technology that renders cloud hosting half the price of Amazon Web Services (AWS), it is claimed.

Cloud-hosting provider Elastichosts today announced its infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) solution, basing it on Linux containerisation technology that allows for more flexible pricing.

While providers including AWS and Google offer on-demand services, they actually charge based on the overall capacity of servers being used.

But Elastichosts’ IaaS solution, Elastic Containers, charges by real-time usage, measured every 15 minutes, meaning customers would pay less when the servers are less busy, such as overnight.

As co-founder Richard Davies told CBR: "You go to an Amazon today, buy an 8GB virtual machine, and it’s on-demand in the sense that you can turn it off when you like and turn it on when you like.

"But if you take a standard IT workload, there are periods where the server is at a high load but during a 24/7 working week, [and] there are significant periods when it’s on low use.

"So there will be points where you’re using 3GB and paying for 8GB. The typical user is nowhere near their capacity limit."

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Customers running constantly at full capacity would pay about the same as they would on AWS, estimated Davies.

The Linux Container technology has been around for about 18 months, but was only finessed in the last half year, he added.

Container-based virtualisation means a physical server can be separated into a number of distinct partitions, each boasting its own memory, and each separately measurable.

A customer simply sets an upper limit on the capacity they require and pays on an as-you-go basis, "like you’d put £10 on a mobile phone", the CEO explained.

Though he also admitted customers who sign a contract get a better deal.

Usage is based on CPU and memory demand, the two most costly aspects of IaaS, and Davies is confident customers would not go over their capacity limit, because they would no longer be charged at maximum capacity and so would feel freer to set it higher.

Elastichosts’ own technology tracks usage automatically, meaning customers no longer have to adjust capacity themselves to meet demand.

It would also remove the tendency for some customers to add extra capacity between certain times, which, while proving effective, can also miss spikes in demand by crucial minutes.

Davies hopes Elastichosts’ use of the technology will give it a headstart on its larger counterparts, which are currently in the middle of a pricing battle as they try to undercut each other.

"As a smaller player the aim is always to be ahead of the game," he said. "For another cloud provider they’re not actually going to release any product [like this] for a year or more."

However, because it is based on Linux technology, only Linux users would be able to use the solution.

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