German stock exchange operator Deutsche Börse has today announced plans for a public market will allow companies to buy and sell cloud computing capacity as a commodity.
A new, international trading platform will be launched in 2014. It will connect cloud providers with buyers including large enterprises, public sector agencies and research institutes, via intermediaries known as cloud brokers.
“Deutsche Börse is making it possible for the first time to standardise and trade fully electronically IT capacity in the same way as securities, energy and commodities,” said Michael Osterloh, member of the board of Deutsche Börse Cloud Exchange AG.
Forrester Research analyst Stefan Reid described the announcement as a "courageous and bold move!”
He said it could lead to trading of sophisticated products akin to the various instruments that are traded on the financial market. “It pushes the discussion of cloud economics to the level of public trading of long-term capacity, spot capacity or even futures.”
However, he added that Deutsche Börse faces a “steep learning curve,” pointing out a number of challenges the platform will face.
For example, a trading market is not suitable for every cloud customer and companies looking for long-term cloud engagements are unlikely to be attracted by a real-time exchange. Also, not all cloud workloads can be relocated easily and are there not "fungible" (i.e. they cannot be exchanged with an identical product).
Where appropriate, however, real-time bidding for computing capacity could revolutionise IT procurement, Reid believes. “The engagement model between IT departments and lines of business is changing to an OpEx model. [It is] very likely we will even see the raise of a new wave of IT spin-offs stimulated by corporate cloud provider business models.”
“However, Deutsche Börse needs to acknowledge that this is a five to ten year transformation requiring long staying power.”
Observers have long-predicted the emergence of a public market for cloud resources, as a natural consequence of the commoditisation of IT infrastructure.