While the term "cloud" still puts many people off, chances are good that within a few years most companies will have a mix of legacy infrastructure, private cloud pods, public cloud services (SaaS or other) and resources at colocation or hosted facilities.

Some people look at that and say that's just business as usual, while others say it adds up to one big IT cloud. Nomenclature aside, the question remains: How will you manage it holistically?

A company that just came out of stealth mode last week says it's all about following the money. Cloud Cruiser, a venture backed startup run by CEO Dave Zabrowski who spent 16 years at HP, most recently as general manager of the enterprise computer organisation, is offering a new chargeback tool that can span this heterogeneous infrastructure mix and give organisations the cost transparency they need to make decisions.

"Our product sits on top of a company's infrastructure, whether they own it or not, whether it is physical or virtual, and provides cost visibility, next generation chargeback, complete transparency end-to-end," Zabrowski says. With that visibility you can start to do cost benchmarking, analyse what it costs to support work on legacy infrastructure versus migrating it to, say, a public cloud.

The company's dashboard lets you slice and dice the data as you see fit. You can see, for example, what was consumed by a resource, say, VMware or Oracle, over a billing period of your choice, or you slice cost data by consumer, be it business unit, department or user. And when it comes to chargeback, you can bill for everything from CPU usage to storage, networking, database usage, labour, etc. "If you measure it we can charge for it," Zabrowski says.

Another company that, while not new, offers a tool that is critical for these mixed infrastructure environments is CiRBA. Its analytics software enables shops to optimize existing environments or plan for migrations, whether from physical to virtual or to cloud resources, says co-founder and CTO Andrew Hillier. After all, you don't want to migrate anything until you know it is properly optimised.

The software is used to build sophisticated models that take into account utilisation and a host of other factors, everything from configurations to usage patterns, availability targets, who owns the resources and security and other business policies. The resulting constraint model enables you to do cross correlation analysis, Hillier says.

A typical outcome of such modelling: "When people virtualise an environment they terribly over-provision," Hillier says. "We see lots of environments that have twice the hardware they actually need because they don't have the visibility needed to lay it out correctly."

How can you migrate anything to the cloud if you don't know what you actually need and can charge back for it properly?