Comparing clouds

Making sure your business has the computing resources it needs in a cost-effective way can be a complex task. Innovative software tools developed by Swinburne are making it easy for businesses to understand and get what they want from the cloud.

Cloud technology has transformed computing, allowing computer system resources to be shared and supported with less cost and management than in-house systems. The cloud has also transformed businesses, providing high-level computing power to any size of business.

Smart Cloud Broker

Swinburne has developed the Smart Cloud Broker to help businesses to assess, compare and manage the cost and performance of their cloud services.

Smart Cloud Broker allows businesses to choose the most appropriate cloud configuration to support their technical and business requirements, and to find the most competitive cloud service provider. It also helps businesses to cut operational costs, while still ensuring high quality through predictive optimisation of cloud resources based on artificial intelligence (AI). This saves cloud users up to 80% of cloud infrastructure service costs.

The first modules of the suite were launched commercially in 2014, and have rapidly been taken up by the business world. Swinburne’s current commercialisation partner, Zimbani, has used the tool to support clients and save them money, and inform its own growth strategies. The Suncorp Group used it to identify future opportunities and threats. It has helped to shape the company’s strategic business innovation directions and their investment in the development of the Suncorp Marketplace strategy.

Smart Cloud Broker has several components

Smart Cloud Bench can compare available cloud resources in real time, based on data analytics and machine learning through AI. It can compare information from hundreds of service configurations from multiple cloud providers to help businesses find the one that precisely suits their needs.

Smart Cloud Purchaser automates the purchase of cloud resources. It shortlists providers based on price, specification and performance, then procures cloud resources.

Smart Cloud Marketplace offers an open electronic market where cloud consumers and providers can trade cloud resources. By balancing supply and demand, it improves the use of cloud resources and revenue for cloud providers, and provides more cost-efficient procurement of cloud services for buyers that are choosing from many competing providers.

Smart Cloud Manager manages the performance and cost of purchased cloud resources using predictive analytics, AI and adaptive resource optimisation in real time.

The Cloud Broker Platform is unique as it can benchmark the performance of custom cloud services across heterogeneous cloud, carrier and campus networks. Those metrics can be combined with cloud computing price books to map actual costs and performance metrics. This puts administrative control back in the hands of the consumer to maximise value from service providers.

James Sankar

General Manager Enterprise Services
Australia’s Academic and Research Network (AARNet)

An international first

Swinburne’s Intelligent Agent Technology Research Group, working with AARNet and the Smart Services Cooperative Research Centre, developed the tools. The research built on the group’s participation in the European Union (EU) Integrated Project on Adaptive Services Grid between 2004 and 2007, which laid many foundations for cloud computing. This three-year collaboration was a first between Australia and the EU in intelligent agent–based service-oriented computing. Swinburne was the only Australian and non-EU organisation involved, and played a key role as one of its founders, acting as scientific coordinator and member of the scientific board.

The research also used Swinburne’s capabilities in AI, intelligent agents and collective intelligence, and their applications in building and managing open, large-scale, distributed systems such as smart service infrastructures involving clouds and marketplaces.