Hundreds of thousands of businesses have moved to cloud computing platforms to achieve lower costs and improve flexibility. Then they discover that they’re inflexibly paying for cloud services even during idle time. ParkMyCloud is the solution to this problem. This SaaS app based on a consumption-based model enables businesses to schedule on/off times in the cloud and pay only for what they use.
ParkMyCloud was launched a year ago. Its customers range from small startups to large multinationals with tens of thousands of servers in the cloud and hundreds of users developing on a daily basis. “We don’t target a specific customer size,” says co-founder and CEO Jay Chapel. “We target companies’ usage of cloud and their need to cost optimize.”
Software startups heavily use cloud services, and they make up more than 50 percent of ParkMyCloud’s customer base. Jonathan Chashper, founder of ProductSavvy Consulting for fast-growth technology companies, says his company uses Amazon Web Services (AWS) when helping its startup clients build their software products.
“ParkMyCloud is a great solution to bring the cost of AWS services down,” says Chashper. “The startup’s operational cost goes down significantly. It affects their end customers too, but that depends on how they are billing. For example, if they are billing their customers based on usage, then it brings their customers’ costs down. For a company that uses ParkMyCloud, its bottom line will go up significantly because its operational cost will go down.”
That’s even important these days, given the recent explosion in AWS costs.
Wolfpack is one of the startups to enjoy the benefits of ParkMyCloud – to the tune of 64 percent overall savings, according to Chashper. Chapel cites savings at a global IT provider. In just weeks after rolling out ParkMyCloud to more than 100 users, the company now saves over $750K per year.
“ParkMyCloud has a proven track record. So why would anybody not want to use it?” Chashper asks. “Essentially you get free money for spending maybe 15 minutes to implement it and no up-front costs. There is literally no reason not to use ParkMyCloud.”
Lee Blackwell, global IT technical and operation services manager at Avid, which makes tools for creating, managing, storing, distributing and monetizing content, recalls that his company’s biggest challenge when migrating to the AWS cloud was understanding the cost model.
“Once you’ve made your purchase, the monthly figure in your accounting is generally steady, regardless of whether your systems are switched off, idle or running at full tilt,” says Blackwell. “AWS instances charges are by the hour, so if you have an instance sitting idle, it’s costing you money, without a return.”
He adds that it wasn’t immediately obvious to Avid’s application teams that powering down their instances would save money. Even when they did begin to understand, it wasn’t straightforward for them to comply. Blackwell explains that access to the AWS console is intentionally limited for security, which put a burden on Avid’s operations team to execute stop/start on a schedule.
Avid signed up for a free trial of ParkMyCloud a year ago. Thirty minutes later, they had “parked” a first instance in AWS. Blackwell says Avid’s typical development instances may now run eight hours, Monday through Friday – on for 40 hours instead of the previous 168 hours a week prior to ParkMyCloud. As Blackwell points out, “That’s a 75 percent reduction in the number of “on” hours, and that equates to a savings. Now scale that up to hundreds of instances being parked over a year and the potential savings are huge.”
Avid also enjoys the flexibility this solution offers to its global operations. So instances can be parked (off) in nighttime hours for a development team on one side of the world while scheduled on for a different team at another location. “ParkMyCloud gives us the flexibility to slice and dice our instances so we can keep everyone happy, while still reducing the hourly charges,” Blackwell says.
What about Microsoft Azure?
CEO Chapel says that when ParkMyCloud entered the market, the plan was to launch first in AWS and then add Microsoft Azure six to nine months later. But three or four months after launch, they realized that with the size of Amazon (over a million customers) and how broad and complex its environments are (including databases and storage), there was more opportunity to expand within Amazon first.
“Although the turning of servers off and on sounds rather simple, the environment is more complex in AWS,” explains Chapel. “They have different instance types: on demand, reserved, auto scaling, etc. It’s a very complex environment. So we decided to broaden ourselves inside of AWS before we launched into another cloud provider. There are a lot of different ways that we can help customers optimize and save money in Amazon product lines.”
ParkMyCloud is now more than halfway to its goal to cover 80 to 90 percent of use cases in AWS before moving on to Azure and should get to Azure in the fourth quarter of this year.
Best practice in developing innovative products
The founders of ParkMyCloud began developing a hybrid cloud management tool three years ago for governance, orchestration and control of multiple clouds. Chapel recalls an issue that kept coming up in discussions with potential customers: cost control and the ability to optimize cloud environments in real time.
“We had some features in our platform that allowed us to do that, but they were part of a larger, more complex platform; and customers just weren’t interested in a larger enterprise complex sale,” Chapel says. So they pivoted and spun out ParkMyCloud to focus on cost control and cost optimization.
Today, the company’s agile development process continues to engage with customers for valuable feedback on features before adding them to the platform. Blackwell relates that Avid’s feedback resulted in an improvement in a recent ParkMyCloud release that allows companies to set up teams to interact with the parked instances. They can now spin up an instance during the “off” time if necessary or “snooze” the schedule for longer time to do a bit of nighttime work.
Recalling its origins, Chapel says ParkMyCloud was influenced by the success of “consumerized” business tools such as Dropbox. He adds that “ParkMyCloud is part of a fast-growing breed of simplified, purpose-built SaaS applications designed to solve one problem (in this case, cloud cost reduction).”
Lee Blackwell is global IT technical and operation services manager at Avid. He says cloud, systems, SaaS and the network are the bricks of the house and IT operations cements them together. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
Jay Chapel is co-founder and CEO of ParkMyCloud. Prior to founding ParkMyCloud, he founded Ostrato in 2013, a provider of cloud management software. Before that, he spent 10+ years with Micromuse and IBM Tivoli, a provider of business infrastructure management software. After an acquisition by IBM, he led the successful sales integration and subsequent growth of the IBM Tivoli/Netcool business in Europe. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jonathan Chashper founded ProductSavvy Consulting in 2006, providing product management and product development support to software startups worldwide. The ProductSavvy team is a group of business and technology innovators with deep experience working in fast growth, technology companies. Prior to founding ProductSavvy, he led software development at AeroScout, providing enterprise visibility solutions based on Wi-Fi and other wireless-networking standards. Before joining AeroScout, he co-founded Netprox and earlier in his career worked with Regisoft and Comverse Technologies.