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Michael Steinhart

Avoid Cost Overruns With Smarter Cloud Management

Michael Steinhart
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dstrait
dstrait
4/18/2013 11:48:21 PM
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Deck Chair Redux
This makes me feel like we've moved the deck chairs from one side of the ship to the other.

One of the things that cloud is supposed to help us with is server utilization and unused servers. IIRC, physcial server average utilization is supposed to be something under 10%. If average utilization on cloud servers is now 17%, that isn't much of an improvement. (I would want steady-state utilization to be up around 80% for stand-alone machines, something like 40% for two-way clusters, something like 60% for a four-way cluster.)

If a person still has to go through through "the numbers" on a regular basis to find machines that are underused or not used at all and then "discuss" the situation with the developers (or whomever is running the show), there is room for improvement. Perhaps one positive here is that the person who does the reviewing and discussing comes out of the accounting or finance department and not out of the IT department.

(I've spent time in these sort of discussions and they can be frustrating for everyone. ("Do you really need that server? I want to recycle it for another project." "Do you need all of that SAN space? We are running out and I don't want to order more drives." Etc. The answer always seems to be "We need everything we have, and we'll need more next week.") During these meetings, I always feel like somone's grandpa, asking them to turn out the lights whenever they leave a room ("Grandpa, the Depression is over.") and to not sit too close to the TV.)

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jagibbons
jagibbons
4/15/2013 12:35:51 PM
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Platinum
Re: In-App Spending
Agreed on parental responsibility. An iPad alone makes a very poor babysitter.

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Michael.Steinhart
Michael.Steinhart
4/15/2013 10:33:54 AM
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Editor
Re: In-App Spending
Good point - but that's where Apple doesn't have to worry because of its fairly restrictive iTunes content policies. 

To be honest, I think that the lion's share of the responsibility lies with parents. Learn the technology that your kids are using. Don't give them access to credit card information. And better yet, don't let them download apps, period. Why can't kids go outside and play, anyway?

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jagibbons
jagibbons
4/15/2013 9:17:25 AM
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Platinum
Re: In-App Spending
Do you think the device makers are going to make these settings easier to adjust and configure? Or is the $100M payout a drop in the bucket?

For Apple, $100M is just a drop. However, I do think device makers will tighten up in-app purchases. It won't be long before a young child buysan adult-content type of app and then the criminal courts would get involved, depending on which state the individuals live in.

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Michael.Steinhart
Michael.Steinhart
4/15/2013 12:16:10 AM
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Editor
Re: In-App Spending
Ouch - that sounds like it could be a nightmare. In the case I heard about on BBCA, the child actually cracked dad's password because it was easy to guess. Our iTunes password isn't that easy to guess, but I'd bet my daughter's sharp enough to have figured it out anyway. I'll go change it now.

Do you think the device makers are going to make these settings easier to adjust and configure? Or is the $100M payout a drop in the bucket?

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jagibbons
jagibbons
4/13/2013 10:07:05 AM
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Platinum
Re: In-App Spending
In-app spending can be a huge problem. I have friends and colleagues who've been bitten by that one. There are ways to lock down a device so that kids don't spend a bunch, but there are several specific steps involved. This could be a huge issue if the credit card on the device account is a corporate card and a large number of personal charges are accrued.

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Michael.Steinhart
Michael.Steinhart
4/12/2013 12:55:10 PM
User Rank
Editor
In-App Spending
On a related note, I heard a report on BBC America this morning about the proliferation of in-app spending, particularly in iTunes games. Some UK parents have given their iPads or iPhones to their kids and discovered -- in a matter of days -- charges of 3,500 pounds from games that are aimed primarily at children. 

One commentator said Apple's voluntarily reimbursing some $100M of inadvertent in-app charges. Wouldn't it be nice if cloud providers did the same?

The UK OFT (office of fair trading) is conducting an investigation into it now. 

I know that 'automated payments' can easily drain an account, especially when they're designed to be unobtrusive. But in-app spending seems even more insidious. Have you all found it to be a problem?

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Michael.Steinhart
Michael.Steinhart
4/12/2013 12:48:12 PM
User Rank
Editor
Re: Caught them in time
But isn't it possible that involving a group of people cuts down the time and tedium and gets the job done more quickly? Each person collate their numbers, enter them in a spreadsheet, and pass it up the chain. Seems straightforward to me, mainly because I've never done it. 

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Michael.Steinhart
Michael.Steinhart
4/12/2013 12:46:47 PM
User Rank
Editor
Re: Caught them in time
Do you really think that's a full-time job, Shehan? I think it oughtn't take more than a half-hour or so each month, even if you have to put one person per department on the job. Is it more complicated than that?

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jagibbons
jagibbons
4/12/2013 6:54:28 AM
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Platinum
Re: Caught them in time
Yes, @shehan. If the monthly P&L is too big to review manually, there are tools that can be used to flag variances and display trends. In my view, the more people involved at various levels of the organization requires more oversight.

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