June 27, 2018 By Steve Harrington 3 min read

Virtual servers now with suspended billing and 1-minute granularity

A core tenet of using public cloud for IT infrastructure is the ability to pay only for what you use. In line with this fundamental concept, we’ve just released a major innovation for IBM Cloud virtual server instances (VSIs). In select data centers, we are now offering VSIs that support more granular billing and the ability to suspend billing altogether when you power them off.

There are a number of different reasons that customers have been asking for this capability. Sure, you could just terminate your instance and spin up a new one when you need it. But the process of reprovisioning and reconfiguring settings can be impractical for routine use. As a result, many users choose to leave VSIs running even when they know that the time spent on running their actual workloads is likely to be minimal.

To address this, we went to work coming up with a way to simplify the process. We ended up taking a different approach than our competitors, and our implementation offers significant advantages.

How Does the Suspend Billing Feature Work?

When you shut down a VSI that supports the suspend billing feature, we will stop billing for the following items associated with that instance:

  • CPU Core(s)

  • RAM

  • Port Speed

  • OS Licensing Costs

  • Monitoring Add-ons

Note: Any attached persistent storage, 100 GB primary volume upgrades, and secondary IPs will continue to incur charges

However, while we suspend billing we don’t deallocate your instance from its host. While you are powered off, we make the host resources available for Transient Instances, but we remove those temporary guests when you turn your VSI back on. This means your time to resume is fast, and from the perspective of the VSI it was a simple boot after a power-off.

When powering your VSI back on, you can expect to have it fully accessible within approximately 2 minutes, and potentially as quickly as 30 seconds depending on your operating system.  In general, the time to have your VSI accessible again will be at least twice as fast as having provisioned it from scratch.

Another advantage of this new feature is that all of these events are measured based on the minute, not the hour. This includes both the lifecycle and the power on/off events. So regardless of whether or not you use the suspend billing functionality, your invoice is still calculated with 1-minute granularity.

Taken together, all of this allows us to address several use cases:

  • Suspend billing during slow times while avoiding the hassle of reprovisioning

  • Reserve capacity for critical, but intermittent workloads

  • Achieve faster and more consistent resumption for intermittent workloads compared to reprovisioning

  • Pay only for what you use with 1-minute billing granularity

So what virtual servers are eligible, and what are the caveats?

For a VSI to support suspend billing and 1-minute granularity, it must be hourly, a public flavor size (compute, memory or balanced family), SAN-backed, and a new provision in a supported data center.

Another important note is the minimum usage charge of 25%. At the end of the billing cycle, you are either charged for the time that you used OR 25% of the time the instance existed during the period (from provision to reclaim), whichever is greater. The idea here is that if the VSI is hardly used, it will still incur a nominal charge because the capacity was reserved.

Beta Limitations

As this is only a beta release, we do have some important limitations. The first is that for this period these VSIs will only be available in the following data centers – DAL, WDC, FRA and LON regions, SEO01, SAO01, TOK02.

The second limitation is that these instances can only be ordered via the API, and will require you to specify the new package. Please note that at this time you cannot order VSIs that support the suspend billing feature via the Order Form.

Looking Ahead

We are excited about reaching this milestone, but we know we have work ahead. Over the next few months you can expect support for ordering with the Order Form and Simple Ordering, as well as expanded availability to all IBM Cloud data centers globally. Please see the documentation for more details and instructions on how to order.

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