Ulrike Dauer| Wsj
In their quest for new revenue sources, exchange operators have consistently looked for new things to trade. Now Deutsche Börse, the operator of the Frankfurt stock exchange and Eurex derivatives exchange, is to start trading in spare cloud computing capacity.
Starting in the first quarter of next year, buyers and sellers of at least one terabyte in cloud-computing dataspace – the size of your average external home hard drive – will be able to match supply and demand via a new platform run by the exchange, with real-time prices to boot.
The cloud, which essentially stores data away from a physical computer, instead making it available on demand from a remote server, comes as more companies consider storing their data that way.
IT advisory firm International Data Corp. forecasts annual growth rates of up to 40% in Europe’s cloud infrastructure business market over the next seven years as it tries to catch up with developments in the U.S. and Asia.
Deutsche Börse’s new Cloud Exchange AG joint venture with Zimory, a Berlin-based software developer that does not provide cloud capacity, hopes to be a “catalyst” for that growth, said management board members Maximilian Ahrens and Michael Osterloh. Deutsche Börse, which traditionally has marketplaces for stocks, bonds and derivatives, already gained some experience of a new market when it launched the EEX European Energy Exchange
At the moment, pricing of cloud services remains opaque because only buyers and sellers are involved in the transaction.
Several commercial cloud marketplaces exist, such as Spot Instances and Reserved Instance Marketplace by Amazon Web Services and SpotCloud by Virtustream, but these are affiliated with the vendor.
Clients and potential clients of cloud computing services also complain about the lengthy procedures required to close an individual cloud contract which can take more than a year until capacity can easily be sold on.
Deutsche Börse hopes to speed up the process substantially by offering standardized products and procedures for admission, trading, settlement and surveillance via the new technical platform, for which it will get a fee.
Buyers of cloud capacity can choose the location and jurisdiction of the servers and how long they want to rent the cloud capacity. They can also migrate between vendors, choose the safety level they want for their data, disaster recovery measures, and data speed.
A group of up to 20 “early adapters” –which includes IT companies, German and international companies such as in the aviation and automobile sectors– is currently working on the details to ensure the marketplace can go live with enough liquidity early next year.
Spot trading of cloud capacity against payment in cash is expected to start in the first quarter. The launch of derivatives trading – with a time gap between trading and delivery – is envisaged for 2015.
The exchange didn’t disclose start-up costs for the new joint venture, which aims to be profitable within the next three years.
The move has certainly piqued interest elsewhere, too. On a trip to Frankfurt Monday, the chief executive of the Zagreb Stock Exchange, Ivana Gazic, said the cloud-computing business “is definitely the future” and would be a perfect secondary use for its own system, though the Croatian exchange is not looking at it at the moment.