Answering the Cost Assessment Scaling Challenge: Modelling the Annual Cost of European Computing Services for Research
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- Heikkurinen, M., Cohen, S., Karagiannis, F. et al. J Grid Computing (2015) 13: 71. doi:10.1007/s10723-014-9302-y
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ICT costs have been traditionally assessed using well-established methods such as full cost accounting or total cost of ownership. Within their specific, optimal application areas they provide very good tools for cost follow-up and strategic decision-making. However, as the scale and complexity of the system being analysed grows, these methods become less suitable. In particular, due to the complex funding structures, and the multi-supplier and cross-country nature of service provision, estimating the total costs of European computing services for research is perhaps one of the best examples of such complex, large-scale systems. Solving this challenge is crucial for the sustainability of these services: besides obvious technical budgeting challenges, difficulties in comparing the cost-effectiveness of different service delivery options make sustaining public support for funding more arduous than it should be. This paper presents a novel cost assessment methodology that addresses the above challenges and uses an in-depth analysis of the pan-European computing e-Infrastructure costs as a case study illustrating the use of the methodology. We also use this case study as an illustration of the kind of cost assessment issues that high-utilisation rate computing services should consider when choosing between different infrastructure options (for example comparing costs per core hour of in-house resources and public Cloud offerings).