Cloud Resources as a Commodity

In my article tech predictions for the 2020s I discussed the relevance of a commodity market for cloud resources and why that might be a reality in the future. However I recently read an article making the claim that cloud computing does not (or would not) fall into the category of a commodity. 

One of the best points of the article was that commodities are nearly always natural resources such as wheat, corn, oil etc. Indeed that’s true but we do have energies; electricity, gas and various other utilities that are traded based on the capacity of their national grid systems. 

Article by Simon Challinor
Photo by from Pexels

I think it still makes sense that cloud infrastructure will be seen as a high level utility and traded as a commodity similar to energy in the future.  However the current state of cloud computing, still in relative infancy, is not quite ready to be viewed as a commodity.  Cloud providers offer virtual machines (VMs being the units of computing) in all manor of combinations of virtual CPU, CPU generation, RAM, bandwidth etc. plus discounts are provided based on tenancy with 3 year duration, and payment upfront being significantly cheaper than the same VM on a pay-as-you-go basis. 

With all the complexity in product offerings and the variance between cloud providers there’s no proper benchmark for comparison of services, but there should be.  

Whist it feels we have moved forwards significantly since the days of datacenters and the traditional hosting company perhaps we have only taken a few steps into the concept of cloud.  I believe we should still consider the current paradigm of cloud computing to be an ‘early generation’.

The granularity of the product we are purchasing currently is too large to compare; a bag of apples vs a box of pears. Perhaps market forces will demand the product is bought and sold in simpler quantities such as machine cycles at which point we may be able to benchmark one provider with another and a homogenized commodity market would start to appear.