Cloud capacity may be bought and sold in an open commodities market

A proposed 'Infrastructure as a Service' exchange may enable companies to buy attractively priced blocks of computing power.

It may soon be possible to buy cloud capacity on an open market, just as energy or physical commodities are now traded. The net result, hopefully, will be competitive pricing for the burgeoning cloud-computing sector.

6fusion, a cloud ROI tools vendor, says it has signed a non-binding Letter of Intent with CME Group, a global derivatives marketplace, to explore the development of an "Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) Exchange."  IaaS offers the underlying components of cloud computing: processing power, storage, networks, and systems messaging.

6fusion says it will work with CME Group to explore the development of an open marketplace for trading financial contracts based on 6fusion’s cloud workload measurement tools. The marketplace will be built on an electronic trading platform provided by CME Group, and 6fusion’s Marketplace platform will track fulfillment of physically delivered contracts traded on the platform.

Network World's Brandon Butler provides a look at how such an exchange will work:

"Blocks of cloud computing resources - for example a month’s worth of virtual machines, or a year’s worth of cloud storage - would be packaged by service providers and sold on a market. In the exchange, investors and traders could buy up these blocks and resell them to end users, or other investors, potentially turning a profit if the value of the resource increases. The market for these resources would ebb and flow, just like with any other commodity, based on supply and demand. Perhaps around the holiday shopping season, or directly after a natural disaster, these blocks of cloud resources would be more valuable, for example."

Reuven Cohen, chief cloud advocate at Citrix, notes in a recent Forbes commentary that such an exchange is a step in the right direction, noting that "data centers are the new power plants," and, just as is the case with energy resources, such exchanges help reduce the risk in investing in new capacity.  He also adds that Amazon Web Services already has a spot-pricing capability that fluctuates with supply and demand.

These developments also may open the door to another opportunity as well. Many enterprises have excess computing capacity within their own systems, and perhaps there could be a market-type environment in which these cycles could be sold and purchased. Just as SETI's grid architecture takes advantage of unused cycles on millions of participants' laptops, there could be a way to leverage corporate data centers.

Thumbnail: Flickr/PhotoAtelier

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