Welcome!

Agile Computing Authors: Elizabeth White, Liz McMillan, Pat Romanski, Kevin Benedict, William Schmarzo

Related Topics: @CloudExpo, Microservices Expo, Microsoft Cloud, Containers Expo Blog, Agile Computing, Cloud Security

@CloudExpo: 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.


@ThingsExpo Stories
The 19th International Cloud Expo has announced that its Call for Papers is open. Cloud Expo, to be held November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, brings together Cloud Computing, Big Data, Internet of Things, DevOps, Digital Transformation, Microservices and WebRTC to one location. With cloud computing driving a higher percentage of enterprise IT budgets every year, it becomes increasingly important to plant your flag in this fast-expanding business opportuni...
From wearable activity trackers to fantasy e-sports, data and technology are transforming the way athletes train for the game and fans engage with their teams. In his session at @ThingsExpo, will present key data findings from leading sports organizations San Francisco 49ers, Orlando Magic NBA team. By utilizing data analytics these sports orgs have recognized new revenue streams, doubled its fan base and streamlined costs at its stadiums. John Paul is the CEO and Founder of VenueNext. Prior ...
A critical component of any IoT project is what to do with all the data being generated. This data needs to be captured, processed, structured, and stored in a way to facilitate different kinds of queries. Traditional data warehouse and analytical systems are mature technologies that can be used to handle certain kinds of queries, but they are not always well suited to many problems, particularly when there is a need for real-time insights.
CenturyLink has announced that application server solutions from GENBAND are now available as part of CenturyLink’s Networx contracts. The General Services Administration (GSA)’s Networx program includes the largest telecommunications contract vehicles ever awarded by the federal government. CenturyLink recently secured an extension through spring 2020 of its offerings available to federal government agencies via GSA’s Networx Universal and Enterprise contracts. GENBAND’s EXPERiUS™ Application...
"My role is working with customers, helping them go through this digital transformation. I spend a lot of time talking to banks, big industries, manufacturers working through how they are integrating and transforming their IT platforms and moving them forward," explained William Morrish, General Manager Product Sales at Interoute, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 18th Cloud Expo, held June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
Internet of @ThingsExpo, taking place November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, is co-located with the 19th International Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world and ThingsExpo Silicon Valley Call for Papers is now open.
Big Data engines are powering a lot of service businesses right now. Data is collected from users from wearable technologies, web behaviors, purchase behavior as well as several arbitrary data points we’d never think of. The demand for faster and bigger engines to crunch and serve up the data to services is growing exponentially. You see a LOT of correlation between “Cloud” and “Big Data” but on Big Data and “Hybrid,” where hybrid hosting is the sanest approach to the Big Data Infrastructure pro...
The IoT is changing the way enterprises conduct business. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Eric Hoffman, Vice President at EastBanc Technologies, discussed how businesses can gain an edge over competitors by empowering consumers to take control through IoT. He cited examples such as a Washington, D.C.-based sports club that leveraged IoT and the cloud to develop a comprehensive booking system. He also highlighted how IoT can revitalize and restore outdated business models, making them profitable ...
We all know the latest numbers: Gartner, Inc. forecasts that 6.4 billion connected things will be in use worldwide in 2016, up 30 percent from last year, and will reach 20.8 billion by 2020. We're rapidly approaching a data production of 40 zettabytes a day – more than we can every physically store, and exabytes and yottabytes are just around the corner. For many that’s a good sign, as data has been proven to equal money – IF it’s ingested, integrated, and analyzed fast enough. Without real-ti...
I wanted to gather all of my Internet of Things (IOT) blogs into a single blog (that I could later use with my University of San Francisco (USF) Big Data “MBA” course). However as I started to pull these blogs together, I realized that my IOT discussion lacked a vision; it lacked an end point towards which an organization could drive their IOT envisioning, proof of value, app dev, data engineering and data science efforts. And I think that the IOT end point is really quite simple…
With 15% of enterprises adopting a hybrid IT strategy, you need to set a plan to integrate hybrid cloud throughout your infrastructure. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, Steven Dreher, Director of Solutions Architecture at Green House Data, discussed how to plan for shifting resource requirements, overcome challenges, and implement hybrid IT alongside your existing data center assets. Highlights included anticipating workload, cost and resource calculations, integrating services on both sides...
"We are a well-established player in the application life cycle management market and we also have a very strong version control product," stated Flint Brenton, CEO of CollabNet,, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 18th Cloud Expo, held June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
The IoT has the potential to create a renaissance of manufacturing in the US and elsewhere. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, Florent Solt, CTO and chief architect of Netvibes, discussed how the expected exponential increase in the amount of data that will be processed, transported, stored, and accessed means there will be a huge demand for smart technologies to deliver it. Florent Solt is the CTO and chief architect of Netvibes. Prior to joining Netvibes in 2007, he co-founded Rift Technologi...
Unless your company can spend a lot of money on new technology, re-engineering your environment and hiring a comprehensive cybersecurity team, you will most likely move to the cloud or seek external service partnerships. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, Darren Guccione, CEO of Keeper Security, revealed what you need to know when it comes to encryption in the cloud.
We're entering the post-smartphone era, where wearable gadgets from watches and fitness bands to glasses and health aids will power the next technological revolution. With mass adoption of wearable devices comes a new data ecosystem that must be protected. Wearables open new pathways that facilitate the tracking, sharing and storing of consumers’ personal health, location and daily activity data. Consumers have some idea of the data these devices capture, but most don’t realize how revealing and...
What are the successful IoT innovations from emerging markets? What are the unique challenges and opportunities from these markets? How did the constraints in connectivity among others lead to groundbreaking insights? In her session at @ThingsExpo, Carmen Feliciano, a Principal at AMDG, will answer all these questions and share how you can apply IoT best practices and frameworks from the emerging markets to your own business.
Basho Technologies has announced the latest release of Basho Riak TS, version 1.3. Riak TS is an enterprise-grade NoSQL database optimized for Internet of Things (IoT). The open source version enables developers to download the software for free and use it in production as well as make contributions to the code and develop applications around Riak TS. Enhancements to Riak TS make it quick, easy and cost-effective to spin up an instance to test new ideas and build IoT applications. In addition to...
You think you know what’s in your data. But do you? Most organizations are now aware of the business intelligence represented by their data. Data science stands to take this to a level you never thought of – literally. The techniques of data science, when used with the capabilities of Big Data technologies, can make connections you had not yet imagined, helping you discover new insights and ask new questions of your data. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Sarbjit Sarkaria, data science team lead ...
Extracting business value from Internet of Things (IoT) data doesn’t happen overnight. There are several requirements that must be satisfied, including IoT device enablement, data analysis, real-time detection of complex events and automated orchestration of actions. Unfortunately, too many companies fall short in achieving their business goals by implementing incomplete solutions or not focusing on tangible use cases. In his general session at @ThingsExpo, Dave McCarthy, Director of Products...
Ask someone to architect an Internet of Things (IoT) solution and you are guaranteed to see a reference to the cloud. This would lead you to believe that IoT requires the cloud to exist. However, there are many IoT use cases where the cloud is not feasible or desirable. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Dave McCarthy, Director of Products at Bsquare Corporation, will discuss the strategies that exist to extend intelligence directly to IoT devices and sensors, freeing them from the constraints of ...