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Cloudability gives Rackspace users free cost monitoring

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As business use of cloud computing rises, those businesses need to keep tabs what they’re using. Now, roughly 175,000 Rackspace (s rax) cloud accounts can use Cloudability services for free to monitor how much they’re spending on their cloud services.

Cloudability, which launched at our Structure event last June, generates daily, weekly and monthly emails detailing a company’s cloud spending and provides a graphical dashboard of that spending. The goal is to make cloud IT spending as efficient as possible. Normally, it’s is free for companies spending less than $2,500 per month in the cloud, and the price after that is based on overall spending.

With this promotion, though, costs paid to Rackspace are excluded from that $2,500 limit.

Cloudability CEO Mat Ellis said cloud providers want to help customers navigate the tricky move from capital to operational spending model broadly applicable in cloud computing.

On the one hand, these services are paid for incrementally and so seem palatable compared to the big up-front spending required for on-premises IT. On the other hand, expenses adds up over time and with many people at a company provisioning cloud services and paying for them seperately, it can be jarring for a company used to relying on in-house IT to start seeing bills from multiple outside providers.

“OPEX can be a nightmare if there are a lot of hidden or unanticipated costs,” Ellis said. Cloudability is joined in this effort to uncover hidden costs by fellow startups such as Cloudyn and UptimeCloud.

What worries the cloud providers is that customers who get surprised will just move to another cloud. It’s not good for any vendor if customers see unanticipated overages which might turn them off to cloud use, Rackspace CTO John Engates said in an interview Friday.

“We want them to know where their money is going, we don’t want them see the cloud in a negative light,” Engates said. “There are a lot of parallels in personal life — a trend to monitoring your usage of electricity and other utilities. The only way to [start reducing] spending is to be able to look at the numbers.”

Photo courtesy of Flickr user Photo Monkey.