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Scottish cloud abacus gobbled by control freak RightScale

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If you think keeping track of the technical differences between cloud systems is hard, try figuring out what compute, storage, and network capacity on various platforms can cost. It's enough to give you migraine, which is why cloud control freak RightScale, which spans multiple public and private systems, has acquired small Scottish startup ShopForCloud.

Now known as PlanForCloud in the wake of the acquisition, ShopForCloud was founded by Ali Khajeh-Hosseini, who is the technical lead for the company, and his brother, Hassan, who is the product and marketing manager.

Ali got his BS in computer science at Robert Gordon University, his MS in high-performance computing at the University of Edinburgh, and was working on his PhD at the University of St Andrews with a specialty in cloud computing when he decided to create a pricing and capacity planning tool that would span the public clouds.

The ShopForCloud site was launched in January this year, which has a simulation engine to figure out what you will need on the various clouds to run your workloads - and then uses live pricing data from cloud providers to tell you what it will cost you to run your software.

Right Scale PlanForCloud founders

PlanForCloud founders Ali and Hassan Khajeh-Hosseini

RightScale CEO Michael Crandell told El Reg that while his company had put some rudimentary capacity tracking and projection software into the RightScale dashboard, you have to actually be using the tool for a while with real data to do any forecasting. With PlanForCloud, the simulation engine allows you to configure a greenfield cloudy infrastructure installation and then see how you would create it on Amazon Web Services, Google Compute Engine, and Rackspace Hosting Cloud.

"As cloud computing gets more popular, costs get out of control," says Crandell. "You need a PhD to analyse pricing, and pricing is always changing, making it more difficult."

Ali could attest to the truth of this, and sought to make a business out of it. At the moment, the PlanForCloud service remains free, but will no doubt help RightScale make money directly as well as indirectly in the coming months.

RightScale is similarly a service that itself runs on a cloud, and it does a bunch of different things. RightScale is used to build dynamic operating system and application stacks that are assembled on the fly from a repository rather than from static gold images. The tool is used to deploy and monitor cloudy stacks as they are running, and also knows how to autoscale applications across infrastructure as workloads rise and fall. It also has auditing, tracking, authentication, and cost-accounting features that span Amazon Web Services, Datapipe, IDC Frontier (a subsidiary of Yahoo! Japan), Logicworks, Rackspace Cloud, and SoftLayer as well as private clouds based on CloudStack from Citrix Systems, Eucalyptus from Eucalyptus Systems, and OpenStack, from NASA and Rackspace Hosting.

For the moment, RightScale has just made some nominal user interface tweaks PlanForCloud and is looking to expand the office in Edinburgh. To be specific, this new part of RightScale is located in the TechCube in central Edinburgh, and if you have Ruby, Rails, jQuery, Postgres, GitHub, Heroku, and AWS skills, then maybe you can get a job in the new RightScale Scotland office.

Crandell says that RightScale will keep PlanForCloud as a free service but will do integration with its eponymous tool, allowing for real-world data to be dumped into the simulation engine for better forecasting.

With the acquisition of PlanForCloud, RightScale now has 207 employees and is looking to hire. The company has over 55,000 customers using its free and paid RightScale tools and has launched 4.35 million virtual server instances to date. The company does not say how many physical servers are under management and how many concurrent VMs are under management at any given time.

Financial details of the acquisition were not given. ®

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