Originally published when I worked at Ninefold, an Australian cloud services provider I co-founded, that operated from 2010 - 2015.

At Ninefold, we first started looking at the cloud market and its possibilities in 2010.

We started with the technologies, understanding the different players in the market and assessing the massive predictions about the growth potential of cloud computing as touted by IDC, Gartner and the like. It quickly became apparent to us that cloud computing really could represent a “tipping point” for the IT industry and that, as many people have predicted, it could completely transform the delivery of computing.

John McCarthy put it this way:

Computing may someday be organised as a public utility (and) the computer utility could become the basis of a new and important industry.

And this was in 1961! It has been a long time coming, but the evidence is showing that cloud is starting to deliver on that promise. The question is: who are the customers?

As we talked to people in the industry and started to understand the user community, we quickly identified that the early adopters of cloud computing were not enterprises with their massive investment in existing IT infrastructure, running applications architected around yesterday’s IT models and supported by in-house staff. And while there has been a significant move to Software-as-a-Service business applications delivered to SMB and larger organisations - typified by the CRM category-killer, Salesforce.com – this represents an evolutionary change in software delivery and not the computing service revolution we sensed in the wind.

In fact, while many people are fixated on the potential cost savings of cloud, early adopters focused instead on agility and flexibility - on getting their service to the market quickly and not being constrained by the need to invest valuable capital into hardware and software assets housed in expensive data centres.

Today’s IT start-ups, web entrepreneurs and digital agencies are completely reliant on computing to run their business. IT is the business for many of them. Their success relies on being able to respond to the demands of the market quicker than their competitors. They tap into social networks, run time-bounded campaigns, and must be able to quickly scale their computing infrastructure upwards and downwards in response to the elastic demands of a global marketplace.

One of the biggest concerns these start-ups shared with us was this: how much will the cloud cost me?

They don’t know what customer demand will be next month. That’s why they move to the cloud, to quickly respond to changes in demand. But that brings uncertainty about the potential costs. And if they use a US based cloud, currency fluctuations add additional uncertainty.

We get it.

So when we built Ninefold, we made sure that our customers had the tools to manage their cloud usage.

You can organise your cloud resources into projects, the same way that you organise your business. Those projects can be given a budget and that budget can be allocated amongst the people working on the project. If you set spend thresholds on a project or on the users in the project, you and your colleagues will receive an email notification when those thresholds have been reached - for example, an email when your cloud resource consumption has reached 75% of your budget spend.

You can also see detailed current and historical usage charts in your cloud dashboard so you know exactly which resources account for how much of your spend.

It’s about giving you the information you need to make sensible business decisions.

It’s about empowering our community to maximise their use of cloud computing.

That’s the Ninefold way.