How to Measure Test & Dev Environment Considerations and Trade-Offs

Yesterday we posted about the benefits of using Cloud-A for your testing, development and quality assurance environments. We highlighted some of the features and functionality that Cloud-A provides to enable fast time to market for your software product, elasticity for growth and quality assurance, but now we are going to prove the business case by looking at the numbers and show you can save over 80% on your test/dev environment by moving to Cloud-A.

Consider the following real world scenario…

Real World Scenario

Our team recently helped a customer through the exercise of finding their true costs for their new utility billed cloud infrastructure. Together, we mapped out a testing, development and quality assurance environment over a three year period with the following requirements.

Test Environment Development Environment QA Environment
1 x 1GB Web Server 1 x 1GB Web Server 1 x 2GB Web Server
1 x 2GB Database Server 1 x 2GB Database Server 1 x 4GB Database Server
Usage: 20 hour per week Usage: 40 hour per week Usage: 40 hour per week

On-premise Hardware Test/Dev/QA Model

Many organizations procure expensive, on-premise hardware for their testing, development and quality assurance environments. In addition to the up front capital costs, ongoing hardware management and initial capacity planning are things to consider.



  • Fixed overhead cost
  • Initially under utilized
  • Eventually over utilized
  • Hardware failures are users responsibility
  • Slow, manual VM deployment
  • No APIs
Capital Purchase Total Cost
Dell PowerEdge R420 – 8 core, 32GB RAM, 2.4TB (spec’ed for growth) $12,674.00
VMware vSphere Standard $1,465.50
Total monthly cost $392.74
Cost per year $4,712.83
Total cost over 3 years $14,138.50

Traditional Hosted VM Test/Dev/QA Model

The Canadian “cloud” market is dominated by VMware based virtualization platforms that lock users into expensive contracts. While the responsibility of managing hardware is offloaded in this model, VM deployment is often slow and users incur monthly fixed costs.



  • Locked into contracts
  • Slow VM deployment, often requires service provider intervention
  • No APIs
  • No Utility Billing
VM Quantity Flavour Price per VM Total Cost (monthly)
2 1GB $50.00 $100.00
3 2GB $77.50 $232.50
1 4GB $160.00 $160.00
Total monthly cost $492.50
Cost per year $5,910.00
Total cost over 3 years $17,730.00

Cloud-A Test/Dev/QA Model

Cloud-A offers a flexible, agile and elastic environment for testing, development and quality assurance. Users only pay for what they use and incur a nominal storage charge when their stacks are turned off, resulting in dramatic cost savings.



  • No contracts, no lock-in
  • Rapid VM deployment
  • API driven infrastructure
  • Utility Billing
  • Agile and Elastic
  • Scale cost with growth

Cloud-A Total Monthly Compute Cost

VM Quantity VM Flavour Usage Hours per month Hourly Cost Total Cost
2 1GB 240 $0.0347 $8.33
3 2GB 400 $0.0554 $22.16
1 4GB 160 $0.0832 $13.31

Cloud-A Total Offline Storage Cost (based on 720 hour months)

VM Quantity VM Flavour Root Disk Offline Storage Hours Hourly Cost Total Cost
2 1GB 30GB 480 $0.00035 $5.04
2 2GB 60GB 420 $0.00035 $8.82
1 4GB 80GB 560 $0.00035 $15.68
Monthly compute cost $43.80
Monthly offline storage cost $29.54
Total monthly cost $73.34
Cost per year $880.08
Total cost over 3 years $2,640.24

Average savings with Cloud-A: 83% or $4,431.31 per year

When comparing the cost of the same testing, development and quality assurance environment from this real world example on on-premise hardware, traditional VM hosting provider and Cloud-A, Cloud-A on average provides 83% savings or $4,431.31 per year.

The Great Canadian Cloud Migration


USD = .30 CAD = 30% more Cloud-A Infrastructure

Several months ago we announced $50 in free Cloud-A account credit for anyone migrating to Cloud-A from an American cloud provider. The promotion was a HUGE SUCCESS and we are bringing it back!

Today $1 USD = $1.30 CAD, which means that by choosing Cloud-A as your cloud infrastructure provider, you are receiving a 30% discount when compared to American providers, not including the free bandwidth, virtual private cloud and Windows licensing you get with Cloud-A

We have had more users convert over from American cloud providers this month than we could have ever imagined, and these users are enjoying over 50% cost savings on average as a result (not including the free credit.)

TIP: When shopping around, keep an eye out for Canadian “cloud” providers who charge for their IaaS in USD. They exist.


How a Cloud A client saved over 265% on their monthly IAAS costs with our hourly billing model

One of the questions we often get at Cloud A is “How does billing by the hour work?”. The answer is simple. We bill by the hour instead of by the month; compared to the more traditional IAAS provider model. In some cases by the hour doesn’t matter since most instances are up and running 24/7, but in the case where environments need to be available for testing, or ad hoc / batch processing purposes, it’s extremely compelling.

One of our beta testers is a company called Maintenance Group Inc.. They are an IBM partner focused on the Asset Management / Equipment Maintenance space working with a software product called Maximo / Tivoli. Before moving to Cloud A they had dedicated environments setup for testing new installations, configuration changes to those environments and doing other intensive tasks like batch processing jobs.

As with traditional VM solutions, snapshots play a big role in how they deliver solutions to their end clients. They use snapshotting a lot to streamline the deployment process and once an environment is setup and working well they then use it as a failsafe mechanism to ensure that they always have a current rollback position. In the past, they needed to pay to have those environments active on the system. Typically were are always left on even when they were not being used. When Maintenance Group Inc. learned that with Cloud A you only pay a tiny fraction of the cost to have a snapshot image stored while not active ($0.25/GB/month), they decided to take advantage of the opportunity to file those old & seldom used environments away and only spin them up when they were needed. The result was a dramatic cost savings of over 265% compared to the previous quarter’s spend on hosted infrastructure. In addition they have found other ways to leverage Cloud A’s on demand compute power to do batch processing of large datasets.

“We’ve been very impressed with what we’ve seen at Cloud A so far. Many of our clients require their data to reside in Canada and that has prevented us from leveraging the large US based providers who have billing by the hour solutions like this to date. This is a great solution for them as well as for our clients in the Caribbean & the US regions. It’s great to have a Canadian solution like this” – Jeff Seaward,  Maintenance Group Inc.