Proposed IaaS marketplace leaves IT pros scratching heads

A proposed marketplace for IaaS left some IT pros wondering about its practicality and just how one would achieve alignment from vendors.

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NEW YORK -- Imagine a cloud marketplace where infrastructure services are bought, sold and traded like commodities on a stock exchange -- complete with contracts and service-level agreements.

Cloud computing is missing standardization. ... We still have vendor communities with almost no 'roaming' between them.

Ruediger Baumann,
CEO, Zimory GmbH

That was the idea put forth in a presentation by Zimory GmbH at Cloud Expo here this week. Zimory, based in Berlin, was spun out of Deutsche Telekom Laboratories as an independent subsidiary in 2009, and also offers cloud management software.

Zimory CEO Ruediger Baumann drew an analogy between the IT and mobile phone industries to explain his idea. Back in the 1980s, he said, there was virtually no roaming among providers' networks and virtually no interoperability among services, despite the fact that phones all had the same chips inside. "Cloud computing is missing standardization," he said. "Like with phones, computers contain the same chips inside -- but we still have vendor communities with almost no 'roaming' between them."

Instead, with the proposed Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) marketplace, all service providers' offerings could be seen in one place, service prices could be compared quickly and standardized contracts could be closed with a mouse click through software clients at each end of the wire.

The sellers in the IaaS marketplace would have to pre-qualify with adequate security credentials, and the buyer would have to pre-qualify financially. Financial clearing houses could broker cloud computing deals as well. Trades could be made under the same regulatory supervision as the stock market, Baumann said. And like the stock market's brokers, cloud brokers could be responsible for buying and selling assets on behalf of others.

Zimory and an unnamed partner will launch the marketplace later this year, with Zimory's cloud management software as the orchestration layer for deal settlement. So far, the company has worked with five buyers and five sellers, all in Europe.

In addition, "the marketplace is not a charity -- there is a transaction fee," Baumann said.

IaaS marketplace met with skepticism

The concept of an IaaS marketplace garnered some head-scratching about how it could be practically achieved.

"[Service-level agreement] consistency would be nice. I think there's a big need for that," said Al Tyus, head of product development for Mac-Tech LLC, a boutique IT consulting firm located in New York. "But I don't know about pricing; how do you get alignment from vendors trying to get differentiation in that space?"

Interoperability among clouds is also virtually nonexistent today, and that would hinder the kind of freewheeling deal-making proposed for the IaaS marketplace.

"Cloud brokering seems to crop up like the daffodils every spring, but there's only one that's managed to make it work, and that's RightScale," said Carl Brooks, analyst at 451 Research in Boston, Mass. Zimory's proposal "hits all the right notes, but the fact is, there is no true interoperability in IaaS, and not much incentive for enterprises to shift workloads around," he said.

Zimory is not the only company to have this idea. U.S.-based 6Fusion is also working on a similar project.

Beth Pariseau is senior news writer for SearchCloudComputing.com. Write to her at bpariseau@techtarget.com or follow @PariseauTT on Twitter.

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