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Marketplace for Cloud Capacity Debuts

Need to use 10,000 servers just for an hour or two? Or perhaps you have excess capacity that you'll never use or sell? If you are in either camp, now there's a marketplace aimed at matching buyers and sellers of cloud computing capacity.

Enter SpotCloud. Enomaly, a longtime provider of cloud computing infrastructure software, launched the public beta of SpotCloud on Monday. Cloud service providers can make unused capacity available on the exchange.

Enomaly describes SpotCloud as the first structured marketplace where service providers can sell their excess computing capacity to an open field of buyers and resellers. The company vets all providers, who can have as little one 8-core server and 500 gigabytes of storage.

Buyers such as those dealing with brief spikes in workloads or shops that want to run performance tests of their applications are typical candidates, said Reuven Cohen, Enomaly's founder and CTO, in an interview this week. A buyer may need capacity in a certain part of the world or perhaps they want to acquire it from multiple distributed providers, Cohen explained.

The business model for Enomaly is it takes a commission for every transaction. Asked if there were enough suppliers interested in participating in such a marketplace, Cohen, said he has already received queries from hundreds of providers. "We certainly have had no issue getting a large group of suppliers," he said.

"People are willing to buy something from you that you weren't going to sell otherwise. It's pretty easy to convince someone to make their excess capacity available as long as you can show that you're doing so in a secure and structured way. It's not a hard pitch."

SpotCloud is a marketplace built using the company's Enomaly ECP platform (it will support other cloud infrastructure platforms in the future, the company says) and runs atop Google App Engine.

Here's how it works, according to the SpotCloud Web site:

  1. Buyers deposit an initial credit into the SpotCloud platform. (It's a pay as-you-go model)
  2. Buyers create a VM appliance using the Enomaly SpotCloud package builder.
  3. Then upload a VM appliance (SpotCloud can provide sample VM images with phone-home capabilities) using the SpotCloud management interface.
  4. Sellers can dynamically define hardware profiles, location information, duration of available capacity and associated resource costs.
  5. Buyers select providers based on a cost and location.
  6. VMs are automatically delivered to sellers' (who must have a SpotCloud-compatible IaaS cloud platform) cloud infrastructures where the VM packages are run according buyers requirements.
  7. SpotCloud monitors and debits buyers on an hourly utility basis with a notification sent when credits drop below minimum threshold.
  8. At the end of the month, sellers are paid directly for any capacity utilized via the SpotCloud marketplace.

A notable example of a clearinghouse like this date back more than a decade ago, when Enron launched a bandwidth marketplace, Cohen said. Of course that was unsuccessful for quite a few reasons but Cohen believes the time is right for a marketplace to exchange cloud capacity.

Will it evolve into a larger business than the company's core software infrastructure offering, Enomaly's core offering for more than six years? "If the numbers keep going the way we currently see it, I would say the future of our business is probably looking more like SpotCloud and less like traditional infrastructure-as-a-service software we've done in the past," Cohen said. "It's been very strong, we've had a significant number of people sign up who are paying for the service. It's looking very, very promising."

If you're a buyer or seller of cloud capacity, would you use a marketplace like SpotCloud? Drop me a line at [email protected].

Posted by Jeffrey Schwartz on 02/17/2011 at 1:14 PM


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