Tuesday Nov 20, 2012

I.T. Chargeback : Core to Cloud Computing

Contributed by Mark McGill

Consolidation and Virtualization have been widely adopted over the years to help deliver benefits such as increased server utilization, greater agility and lower cost to the I.T. organization. These are key enablers of cloud, but in themselves they do not provide a complete cloud solution. Building a true enterprise private cloud involves moving from an admin driven world, where the I.T. department is ultimately responsible for the provisioning of servers, databases, middleware and applications, to a world where the consumers of I.T. resources can provision their infrastructure, platforms and even complete application stacks on demand.

Switching from an admin-driven provisioning model to a user-driven model creates some challenges. How do you ensure that users provisioning resources will not provision more than they need? How do you encourage users to return resources when they have finished with them so that others can use them?

While chargeback has existed as a concept for many years (especially in mainframe environments), it is the move to this self-service model that has created a need for a new breed of chargeback applications for cloud. Enabling self-service without some form of chargeback is like opening a shop where all of the goods are free.

A successful chargeback solution will be able to allocate the costs of shared I.T. infrastructure based on the relative consumption by the users. Doing this creates transparency between the I.T. department and the consumers of I.T. When users are able to understand how their consumption translates to cost they are much more likely to be prudent when it comes to their use of I.T. resources. This also gives them control of their I.T. costs, as moderate usage will translate to a lower charge at the end of the month. Implementing Chargeback successfully create a win-win situation for I.T. and the consumers. Chargeback can help to ensure that I.T. resources are used for activities that deliver business value. It also improves the overall utilization of I.T. infrastructure as I.T. resources that are not needed are not left running idle.

Enterprise Manager 12c provides an integrated metering and chargeback solution for Enterprise Manager Targets. This solution is built on top of the rich configuration and utilization information already available in Enterprise Manager. It provides metering not just for virtual machines, but also for physical hosts, databases and middleware.

Enterprise Manager 12c provides metering based on the utilization and configuration of the following types of Enterprise Manager Target:

  • Oracle VM
  • Host
  • Oracle Database
  • Oracle WebLogic Server

Using Enterprise Manager Chargeback, administrators are able to create a set of Charge Plans that are used to attach prices to the various metered resources. These plans can contain fixed costs (eg. $10/month/database), configuration based costs (eg. $10/month if OS is Windows) and utilization based costs (eg. $0.05/GB of Memory/hour)

The self-service user provisioning these resources is then able to view a report that details their usage and helps them understand how this usage translates into cost. Armed with this information, the user is able to determine if the resources are delivering adequate business value based on what is being charged.

Figure 1: Chargeback in Self-Service Portal

Enterprise Manager 12c provides a variety of additional interfaces into this data. The administrator can access summary and trending reports. Summary reports allow the administrator to drill-down through the cost center hierarchy to identify, for example, the top resource consumers across the organization.


Figure 2: Charge Summary Report

Trending reports can be used for I.T. planning and budgeting as they show utilization and charge trends over a period of time.


Figure 3: CPU Trend Report

We also provide chargeback reports through BI Publisher. This provides a way for users who do not have an Enterprise Manager login (such as Line of Business managers) to view charge and usage information. For situations where a bill needs to be produced, chargeback can be integrated with billing applications such as Oracle Billing and Revenue Management (BRM).

Further information on Enterprise Manager 12c’s integrated metering and chargeback:

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