Although not a new concept, we are now looking at the opportunity for those who have private servers with excess capacity to rent that capacity to a cloud service provider that can dole out those compute and storage systems on demand to anyone who needs them.
If you’re thinking ride-sharing for servers, you’re not far off. In this scenario the cloud service provider is really just a broker sitting between those needing cloud services and those who have servers that can be shared. You may be leveraging servers that have excess capacity in Las Vegas on Monday and perhaps servers in London on Tuesday. You don’t care since you’re abstracted away from the physical servers, not even knowing location and true ownership.
Peer-to-peer networks are nothing new. Indeed in this use case there is a clear benefit for both parties. Those with excess server capacity will make money by renting it, thus there is a revenue stream for server capacity that would normally go unused. Those consuming this service would likely pay less money than they would for most public cloud services, at least it would seem, living up to SLAs preset by the consumers.
I like that we can finally leverage excess server capacity that would otherwise go unused. Go into any data center and launch a performance monitoring application and you’ll discover that most servers are at three to five percent utilization, no matter if they are virtualized or not.
Still more data centers are being built, and we’re consuming way too much power to run them, generally speaking. We’re not asking those servers to move to the cloud, even though that’s typically a good idea as far as efficiency goes. We’re just saying rent out what you’re not using.
However, reality hits you in the face when considering the core requirements of public clouds, including security, governance, and performance. No matter what the price point is, I doubt that most Global 2000 enterprises will bite. Even if the security and governance layers are solid, and performance is guaranteed through SLAs, just the thought of enterprise data scattered hither and yon will drive paralyzing fear.
However, the same could be said about public clouds five years ago. Enterprises were not biting on those because of fears as to data security and reliability. These days, we understand better that data in the cloud is, on average, more secure, and public cloud outages have a much better track record than traditional enterprise systems. As our thinking evolves, at some point we may look back and wonder why it took so long to rent excess server capacity.