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Cloud costs are unmanageable: It’s time we standardize billing

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Cloud costs are unmanageable: It’s time we standardize billing

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More companies are adopting a multicloud strategy, which means they need to compare the costs and commitments they take on from the three major providers and choose services. Except, that’s nearly impossible. Google, Amazon and Microsoft bill so differently that many companies cannot achieve the benefits of a multicloud approach. They simply don’t know which provider is best for their requirements and usage. 

Gartner has forecast that end-user spending on public cloud services will reach $482 billion this year, a remarkable amount for something so lacking in transparency. Investment firm Andreessen Horowitz (aka a16z) has bemoaned how cloud costs drive down the value of public software companies by hundreds of billions of dollars. And some tech companies are saving enormously by repatriating operations from the cloud. 

Billing comparisons are nearly impossible, cost attribution is elusive

Nobody is questioning the value of cloud services themselves, but everybody understands their billing methods are a nightmare to untangle. There is too much at stake, and the numbers are too big, for this to continue. Standardized billing across cloud providers is long overdue. Here’s why. 

Non-standardized billing creates three sets of problems. The first is managing different types of commitments across cloud providers where the terms and implementations vary so vastly. The second problem is tracking expenses with different savings attribution schemes and cost metric definitions such as net amortized, unblinded, etc. being used across providers. The third is the increasing use of multiple cloud platforms and managed services within them, each with its own tagging conventions. For many, it’s virtually impossible to attribute costs internally even when using a single cloud platform. 

The net result is that customers cannot make an apples-to-apples comparison across providers. To understand the scope and complexity of this issue, let’s compare the three major cloud service providers: Amazon Web Service (AWS), Microsoft Azure (Azure) and Google Cloud Platform (GCP). 

The Big 3: Mature billing or not, all are confusing

Of the three, AWS has the most mature billing model. Here we define maturity as the number of discounted commitments available to customers as alternatives to on-demand purchasing. In 2019, AWS introduced Savings Plans to give customers another discounted purchasing model outside of Reserved Instances. This maturity has also allowed for AWS to develop the most granular pricing options per SKU. Increased optionality helps in selecting the best commitments to cover your infrastructure. But with so many choices, customers face confusion. For example, there are numerous obsolete billing constructs like Convertible Reserved Instances available that customers can mistakenly purchase in place of more efficient alternatives. 

Relative to AWS, Azure is less mature in their billing model. But they are more forgiving on things like enabling resale by providing guaranteed resale with a 12% penalty fee. For AWS users, there is a chance they’re stuck with Reserved Instances they can’t sell and don’t need. They also offer the additional option of a deeply discounted five-year commitment for certain resources, providing a price point that can actually compete with owning your own server. The other providers’ have a maximum commitment of three years. 

GCP is also less mature than AWS but does provide two discounted purchasing options. Committed Use Discounts provide a discount in exchange for a one or three-year commitment, like RIs and Savings Plans. GCP also innovated on the discount model by creating Sustained Use Discounts, which automatically apply discounts when compute engine VMs are used for a significant portion of the month. The threshold for the discount varies by resource type.

The independent development of each provider’s billing model has resulted in differences in how things are priced. Each “primitive” or component such as a machine, a managed service (like Lambda or Dynamo), bandwidth and storage all have different base pricing models that can be further complicated by long-term commitment discounts as well as top-level enterprise discounts. 

The benefits of having access to a wider range of services and the ability to choose is negated when you cannot make a comparison across services and have any confidence that it’s accurate. That’s why standardized billing is important to nearly all cloud users. 

How to fix this: Develop an open billing standard

Our team is currently working with the finops foundation and cloud customers to develop an open billing standard that can be used to compare projects using different vendors. 

The first area to tackle is creating a common standard to define the parameters for usage-based pricing of different components. This way you are not faced with comparing services that are charged by the hour with those that are charged by the amount of usage. The next is developing a common language to characterize commitment discounts between vendors and the level of flexibility the discount allows. This helps customers weigh the tradeoffs in using discounts that require a longer period of commitment, or offer some degree of additional flexibility, especially in cases where there may be variable usage. 

Allowing for an apples-to-apples comparison of SKUs will help customers select the right services for their needs across vendors. Customers won’t feel limited to using the vendor they are most familiar with. They can also rest assured that they are investing in the right resources to run their business optimally.

Aran Khanna is the CEO of Archera.

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FIFA 23 lets you turn off commentary pointing out how bad you are

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FIFA 23 lets you turn off commentary pointing out how bad you are
A player shouldering the ball



(Image credit: EA)

FIFA 23 might be the best game soccer game yet for terrible sports fans, as it lets you turn off commentary that criticizes your bad playing.

Now that the early access FIFA 23 release time has passed, EA Play and Xbox Game Pass Ultimate subscribers can hop into the game ahead of its full release. But as Eurogamer (opens in new tab) spotted, they’ll find a peculiar option waiting for them.

FIFA 23 includes a toggle to turn off ‘Critical Commentary’. The setting lets you silence all negative in-match comments made about your technique, so you can protect your precious ego even when you miss an open goal or commit an obvious foul. The more positive commentary won’t be affected. 

Spare your feelings

A player dribbling the ball in FIFA 23

(Image credit: EA)

The feature looks tailored toward children and new players, who don’t want to have their confidence wrecked within mere minutes of picking up the controller. But even experienced players who just so happen to be terrible at the game might benefit.

It’s not perfect, though. According to Eurogamer, the feature didn’t seem to work during a FIFA Ultimate Team Division Rivals match, with critical comments slipping through the filter. Still, who hasn’t benefited from a light grilling every now and then?

Polite commentary isn’t the only new addition in FIFA 23. It’s the first game in the series to include women’s club football teams, and fancy overhauled animations that take advantage of the PS5 and Xbox Series X|S’s new-gen hardware. EA will be hoping to end on a high, as FIFA 23 will be the last of its soccer games to release with the official FIFA licence.

If disabling critical commentary doesn’t improve your soccer skills, maybe building a squad of Marvel superheroes will. Although you might not do much better with Ted Lasso wandering the pitch.

FIFA 23 is set to fully release this Friday, September 30.

Callum is TechRadar Gaming’s News Writer. You’ll find him whipping up stories about all the latest happenings in the gaming world, as well as penning the odd feature and review. Before coming to TechRadar, he wrote freelance for various sites, including Clash, The Telegraph, and Gamesindustry.biz, and worked as a Staff Writer at Wargamer. Strategy games and RPGs are his bread and butter, but he’ll eat anything that spins a captivating narrative. He also loves tabletop games, and will happily chew your ear off about TTRPGs and board games. 

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Google Pixel 7 price leak suggests Google is totally out of touch

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Google Pixel 7 price leak suggests Google is totally out of touch
The backs of the Pixel 7 and the Pixel 7 Pro



(Image credit: Google)

We’re starting to hear more and more Google Pixel 7 leaks, with the launch of the phone just a week away, but tech fans might be getting a lot of déjà vu, with the leaks all listing near-identical specs to what we heard about the Pixel 6 a year ago.

It sounds like the new phones – a successor to the Pixel 6 Pro is also expected – could be very similar to their 2021 predecessors. And a new price leak has suggested that the phones’ costs could be the same too, as a Twitter user spotted the Pixel 7 briefly listed on Amazon (before being promptly taken down, of course).

Google pixel 7 on Amazon US. $599.99.It is still showing up in search cache but the listing gives an error if you click on it. We have the B0 number to keep track of though!#teampixel pic.twitter.com/w5Z09D28YESeptember 27, 2022

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According to these listings, the Pixel 7 will cost $599 while the Pixel 7 Pro will cost $899, both of which are identical to the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro starting prices. The leak doesn’t include any other region prices, but in the UK the current models cost £599 and £849, while in Australia they went for AU$999 and AU$1,299.

So it sounds like Google is planning on retaining the same prices for its new phones as it sold the old ones for, a move which doesn’t make much sense.


Analysis: same price, new world

Google’s choice to keep the same price points is a little curious when you consider that the specs leaks suggest these phones are virtually unchanged from their predecessors. You’re buying year-old tech for the same price as before.

Do bear in mind that the price of tech generally lowers over time, so you can readily pick up a cheaper Pixel 6 or 6 Pro right now, and after the launch of the new ones, the older models will very likely get even cheaper.

But there’s another key factor to consider in the price: $599 might be the same number in 2022 as it was in 2021, but with the changing global climate, like wars and flailing currencies and cost of living crises, it’s a very different amount of money.

Some people just won’t be willing to shell out the amount this year, that they may have been able to last year. But this speaks to a wider issue in consumer tech.

Google isn’t the only tech company to completely neglect the challenging global climate when pricing its gadgets: Samsung is still releasing super-pricey folding phones, and the iPhone 14 is, for some incomprehensible reason, even pricier than the iPhone 13 in some regions. 

Too few brands are actually catering to the tough economic times many are facing right now, with companies increasing the price of their premium offerings to counter rising costs, instead of just designing more affordable alternatives to flagships.

These high and rising prices suggest that companies are totally out of touch with their buyers, and don’t understand the economic hardship troubling many.

We’ll have to reach a breaking point sooner or later, either with brands finally clueing into the fact that they need to release cheaper phones, or with customers voting with their wallets by sticking to second-hand or refurbished devices. But until then, you can buy the best cheap phones to show that cost is important to you.

Tom’s role in the TechRadar team is to specialize in phones and tablets, but he also takes on other tech like electric scooters, smartwatches, fitness, mobile gaming and more. He is based in London, UK.

He graduated in American Literature and Creative Writing from the University of East Anglia. Prior to working in TechRadar freelanced in tech, gaming and entertainment, and also spent many years working as a mixologist. Outside of TechRadar he works in film as a screenwriter, director and producer.

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DisplayMate awards the “Best Smartphone Display” title to the iPhone 14 Pro Max

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DisplayMate awards the “Best Smartphone Display” title to the iPhone 14 Pro Max

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