Welcome!

Cloud Expo Authors: Elizabeth White, Pat Romanski, Liz McMillan, Vincent Brasseur, Ignacio M. Llorente

Related Topics: Cloud Expo, SOA & WOA, .NET, Virtualization, Web 2.0, Security

Cloud Expo: Article

Licensed to Print Money (In the Cloud)

New approaches are emerging with the goal of minimizing upfront investments in both hardware and software

One of the major issues facing cloud service providers is the expense of building out infrastructure without knowing how or when revenues will follow. As a result, cloud providers are reevaluating their approach to hardware and software investments and engaging with technology and networking vendors to develop creative pricing models that are aligned with cloud business principles and engineered to reduce risks.

In a perfect world, cloud service providers would pay for infrastructure only after a customer has made a purchase - in order to maintain a tight correlation between revenues and expenses. In the real world, however, implementing this type of model is easier said than done. This was especially true during the ‘iron' age, when hardware and software were highly coupled and there were very few alternatives to big vendors that focused on selling high-dollar, high-performance networking gear.

Today, however, new approaches are emerging with the goal of minimizing upfront investments in both hardware and software. One of the most compelling new approaches takes advantage of performance improvements in server virtualization. Leveraging virtualization has several benefits, one of which is the ability to maximize the use of compute resources. Although specialized hardware can provide some performance advantages, the downside is that unused compute resources cannot be utilized or shared by other functions. For many service providers operating on thin margins, idle resources that cannot be monetized can mean the difference between profit and loss.

In contrast, virtualized server resources can be spun up and spun down to perform a wide range of functions and enable a wide selection of services. While hardware will always remain a large expense, standardizing on server virtualization generates savings in the form of volume discounts and also provides the flexibility to ensure maximum ROI is being extracted from the infrastructure. In other words, a virtual machine that ran load balancing yesterday for one customer could just as easily run application services today for a different customer.

The other major benefit of server virtualization is the ability to decouple expensive software and networking functionality from the underlying hardware. While hardware needs to be purchased up front to provide the foundation for services, software does not. Software can be purchased on demand. In fact, software can enable service providers to be real-time technology resellers - seamlessly making products from a range of technology vendors available to their customers. Or software may be purchased on demand in direct proportion to the provider's need to scale or support services purchased by their customers.

A notable example of this trend is software-based networking products - as exemplified by virtual load balancing, secure access and WAN optimization. Instead of focusing only on high-performance dedicated hardware, networking vendors now give cloud service providers the ability to run essential functions in virtualized environments on commodity servers. By giving service providers the ability to move application networking functions onto a common virtualized server infrastructure - and focusing on integration with orchestration and cloud management systems - networking vendors are giving service providers the ability to significantly lower the cost of service creation.

Although significant, this shift is only the beginning. Service providers are demanding even greater creativity from technology and networking vendors. Although virtualized solutions lower capex and opex and provide the ability to respond quickly to customer needs, they still require service providers to invest up front in costly perpetual licensing. Even with the advent of lower-cost and time-bound subscription models, service providers are still required to purchase licenses up front on the expectation of turning a profit as they resell services.

In response, some technology and networking vendors are breaking new ground and turning traditional pricing models on their heads. As an example, a vendor may charge service providers a nominal amount to run software load balancing in a virtualized environment and forgo traditional licensing schemes. In this new model, service providers pay nothing in the way of user licenses until such time as they ramp customers.

Whether the load balancing is used "under-the-cloud" to support and scale software services, or made available "over-the-cloud" as infrastructure services, these new models offer service providers "map-of-the-earth" pricing. In other words, the service provider pays the networking vendor in direct proportion to demand.

Customers simply purchase services on-demand and get charged by the service provider according to metrics such as time or bandwidth. As customers pay, the cloud service provider and application delivery networking vendor generate revenue simultaneously based upon a predetermined arrangement. Depending on the type of networking service being resold and depending on the nature of the service provider's business model, billing could be driven by throughput, users, connections or transactions per second or any variation that provides the most compelling offering to customers and the greatest margin to the service provider.

On the flip side, for these new business models to gain traction, billing and provisioning for customers, providers and vendors must be automated and integrated with service provider cloud management systems. For technology and networking vendors, that means putting as much effort into orchestration as they put into core capabilities - an effort that is well underway.

By standardizing on a common hardware architecture, leveraging virtualized to maximize ROI, decoupling hardware from software and evolving to new on-demand software business models, cloud providers gain a massive improvement in their ability to be profitable. With less risk and less outlay, service providers are better able to manage and grow their business and a rising tide lifts both service providers and technology and networking vendors. As business increases for the cloud provider, technology and networking vendors can also build automated volume discounts into the business model, which may be triggered to encourage growth and further control costs.

As cloud computing and cloud services continue to accelerate, cloud providers - whether offering software, platform or infrastructure services - are well advised to seek out technology and networking vendors with a broad suite of virtualized offerings and a willingness to work with providers on pricing strategies and business models that enhance profitability for both parties.

More Stories By Paul Andersen

Paul Andersen is the Marketing Manager at Array Networks. He has over 15 years’ experience in networking, and has served in various marketing capacities for Cisco Systems, Tasman Networks and Sun Microsystems. Mr. Andersen holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Marketing from San Jose State University.

Comments (0)

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.


@CloudExpo Stories
"Matrix is an ambitious open standard and implementation that's set up to break down the fragmentation problems that exist in IP messaging and VoIP communication," explained John Woolf, Technical Evangelist at Matrix, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Connected devices and the Internet of Things are getting significant momentum in 2014. In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Jim Hunter, Chief Scientist & Technology Evangelist at Greenwave Systems, examined three key elements that together will drive mass adoption of the IoT before the end of 2015. The first element is the recent advent of robust open source protocols (like AllJoyn and WebRTC) that facilitate M2M communication. The second is broad availability of flexible, cost-effective ...
How do APIs and IoT relate? The answer is not as simple as merely adding an API on top of a dumb device, but rather about understanding the architectural patterns for implementing an IoT fabric. There are typically two or three trends: Exposing the device to a management framework Exposing that management framework to a business centric logic Exposing that business layer and data to end users. This last trend is the IoT stack, which involves a new shift in the separation of what stuff happe...
The Internet of Things will put IT to its ultimate test by creating infinite new opportunities to digitize products and services, generate and analyze new data to improve customer satisfaction, and discover new ways to gain a competitive advantage across nearly every industry. In order to help corporate business units to capitalize on the rapidly evolving IoT opportunities, IT must stand up to a new set of challenges. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Jeff Kaplan, Managing Director of THINKstrateg...
Cultural, regulatory, environmental, political and economic (CREPE) conditions over the past decade are creating cross-industry solution spaces that require processes and technologies from both the Internet of Things (IoT), and Data Management and Analytics (DMA). These solution spaces are evolving into Sensor Analytics Ecosystems (SAE) that represent significant new opportunities for organizations of all types. Public Utilities throughout the world, providing electricity, natural gas and water,...
Want to enable self-service provisioning of application environments in minutes that mirror production? Can you automatically provide rich data with code-level detail back to the developers when issues occur in production? In his session at DevOps Summit, David Tesar, Microsoft Technical Evangelist on Microsoft Azure and DevOps, will discuss how to accomplish this and more utilizing technologies such as Microsoft Azure, Visual Studio online, and Application Insights in this demo-heavy session.
When an enterprise builds a hybrid IaaS cloud connecting its data center to one or more public clouds, security is often a major topic along with the other challenges involved. Security is closely intertwined with the networking choices made for the hybrid cloud. Traditional networking approaches for building a hybrid cloud try to kludge together the enterprise infrastructure with the public cloud. Consequently this approach requires risky, deep "surgery" including changes to firewalls, subnets...
DevOps is all about agility. However, you don't want to be on a high-speed bus to nowhere. The right DevOps approach controls velocity with a tight feedback loop that not only consists of operational data but also incorporates business context. With a business context in the decision making, the right business priorities are incorporated, which results in a higher value creation. In his session at DevOps Summit, Todd Rader, Solutions Architect at AppDynamics, discussed key monitoring techniques...
The Internet of Things will greatly expand the opportunities for data collection and new business models driven off of that data. In her session at @ThingsExpo, Esmeralda Swartz, CMO of MetraTech, discussed how for this to be effective you not only need to have infrastructure and operational models capable of utilizing this new phenomenon, but increasingly service providers will need to convince a skeptical public to participate. Get ready to show them the money!
One of the biggest challenges when developing connected devices is identifying user value and delivering it through successful user experiences. In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Mike Kuniavsky, Principal Scientist, Innovation Services at PARC, described an IoT-specific approach to user experience design that combines approaches from interaction design, industrial design and service design to create experiences that go beyond simple connected gadgets to create lasting, multi-device exp...
P2P RTC will impact the landscape of communications, shifting from traditional telephony style communications models to OTT (Over-The-Top) cloud assisted & PaaS (Platform as a Service) communication services. The P2P shift will impact many areas of our lives, from mobile communication, human interactive web services, RTC and telephony infrastructure, user federation, security and privacy implications, business costs, and scalability. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Robin Raymond, Chief Architect...
High-performing enterprise Software Quality Assurance (SQA) teams validate systems that are ready for use - getting most actively involved as components integrate and form complete systems. These teams catch and report on defects, making sure the customer gets the best software possible. SQA teams have leveraged automation and virtualization to execute more thorough testing in less time - bringing Dev and Ops together, ensuring production readiness. Does the emergence of DevOps mean the end of E...
Scott Jenson leads a project called The Physical Web within the Chrome team at Google. Project members are working to take the scalability and openness of the web and use it to talk to the exponentially exploding range of smart devices. Nearly every company today working on the IoT comes up with the same basic solution: use my server and you'll be fine. But if we really believe there will be trillions of these devices, that just can't scale. We need a system that is open a scalable and by using ...
The Internet of Things is tied together with a thin strand that is known as time. Coincidentally, at the core of nearly all data analytics is a timestamp. When working with time series data there are a few core principles that everyone should consider, especially across datasets where time is the common boundary. In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Jim Scott, Director of Enterprise Strategy & Architecture at MapR Technologies, discussed single-value, geo-spatial, and log time series dat...
"Verizon offers public cloud, virtual private cloud as well as private cloud on-premises - many different alternatives. Verizon's deep knowledge in applications and the fact that we are responsible for applications that make call outs to other systems. Those systems and those resources may not be in Verizon Cloud, we understand at the end of the day it's going to be federated," explained Anne Plese, Senior Consultant, Cloud Product Marketing at Verizon Enterprise, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at...
"For the past 4 years we have been working mainly to export. For the last 3 or 4 years the main market was Russia. In the past year we have been working to expand our footprint in Europe and the United States," explained Andris Gailitis, CEO of DEAC, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at Cloud Expo, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
The term culture has had a polarizing effect among DevOps supporters. Some propose that culture change is critical for success with DevOps, but are remiss to define culture. Some talk about a DevOps culture but then reference activities that could lead to culture change and there are those that talk about culture change as a set of behaviors that need to be adopted by those in IT. There is no question that businesses successful in adopting a DevOps mindset have seen departmental culture change, ...
The Domain Name Service (DNS) is one of the most important components in networking infrastructure, enabling users and services to access applications by translating URLs (names) into IP addresses (numbers). Because every icon and URL and all embedded content on a website requires a DNS lookup loading complex sites necessitates hundreds of DNS queries. In addition, as more internet-enabled ‘Things' get connected, people will rely on DNS to name and find their fridges, toasters and toilets. Acco...
"Cloud consumption is something we envision at Solgenia. That is trying to let the cloud spread to the user as a consumption, as utility computing. We want to allow the people to just pay for what they use, not a subscription model," explained Ermanno Bonifazi, CEO & Founder of Solgenia, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at Cloud Expo, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Enthusiasm for the Internet of Things has reached an all-time high. In 2013 alone, venture capitalists spent more than $1 billion dollars investing in the IoT space. With "smart" appliances and devices, IoT covers wearable smart devices, cloud services to hardware companies. Nest, a Google company, detects temperatures inside homes and automatically adjusts it by tracking its user's habit. These technologies are quickly developing and with it come challenges such as bridging infrastructure gaps,...