Is it possible, even in theory, to build a zero cost public cloud?
With bigger discounts from leading cloud providers, you are wondering if price will go down enough to be close to Zero. But it won't! If I'm a typical cloud provider, like Amazon AWS or Mictosoft Azure, I'm using a centralized cloud architecture, where I'm building/buying datacenters, buying hardware and renting it remotely to my customers. I'm the only Provider, all of my customers are Consumers and in this model I can't offer my services for free. Because it costs a good deal of money to build and run a datacenter. So, the best I can do is to go down in price 20-30% before my profit margin becomes too thin.
Possible with a different cloud architecture
Now, if you build a cloud using a different architecture, you may have more options available to you. Imagine a Distributed Cloud, where every participant can not only be a Consumer, but also a Provider. That's right, if you have server capacity, that you don't use or fully utilize, combined with an adequate broadband connection and stable power, you can be a Provider, like Amazon ... but smaller :). Just add your server(s) to the Cloud and collect money. Proceeds will depend on your equipment rank and your availability track record. That will enable new options and a new level of flexibility. You may use proceeds to pay for Public cloud capacity that you need and break even. Or maybe even generate some profit. Depends on amount provided and consumed. Let's consider an example :
Zero Cost Hybrid Cloud for SMB Inc
Let's consider some imaginary company, say SMB Inc. Some typical business, not too small, not too big. They should have some existing server capacity, that they have bought some time ago, as a cutting edge technology. There is a good chance it was oversized, just in case, for future growth and "peak loads". In other words, it's running with a 10-15% utilization :)
Now, in 2018 SMB Inc is told that they need to be public cloud all over the place. And their servers are no longer a cutting edge, but rather a "traditional IT" (feels like 70s). Reality is, most businesses won't be 100% public cloud and they will keep many workloads "on premise". I'm guessing an average ratio will be in 30% public / 70% private range. And I think the following happens with SMB Inc at the moment :
- Company keeps all existing capacity and pays the costs of running it
- Company adds new public cloud capacity and pays sizable amount of money for it
- Company spends time and money trying to integrate "tradition" with "cloud"
In case of the Distributed Cloud, that we've discussed earlier, SMB Inc could :
- Add existing servers to the Cloud, providing, say 100 units of capacity
- Collect money as a Provider
- Consume/reserve 14 units as Private capacity (10-15% utilization)
- Consume 6 units as Public capacity (30% public / 70% private ratio)
- Use remaining money to cover electric/network costs
- Bring total close to Zero or maybe generate some Profit
Technically, this is not a totally free solution, as you have to have an existing capacity. But it can be for most companies, since they do.
How do I become a Cloud Provider?
We are developing a Distributed Cloud, based on a new distributed architecture (federated + p2p). We plan to release 3 different versions of our platform:
- SOHO - Early Adopter, Enthusiast and smaller business version
- PRO - Fully featured version for medium and small businesses
- ES - Larger scale Enterprise version
With SOHO version, going into production later this year, you will be able to add your server to the Cloud, but only as Private capacity. You can save a lot on building Hybrid environment, but public provider option and Capacity Marketplace is coming in a PRO version. We think there is a good chance that the largest Capacity Provider network in 5-6 years will be based on distributed principals, allowing 90% of existing global server capacity to join.
Subarray is a hybrid cloud provider specializing in Distributed Cloud technologies. Founded in 2017, company believes things can be much Simpler and more cost Efficient.