Cloud computing’s underground club

June 22, 2016



Cloud providers can boost business by deeply discounting capacity during off-peak times. Welcome to the “cloud underground.”

Humans are incredibly complex. Trying to unlock the mysteries of the human genome takes perpetual data crunching power. The big brains behind the research fueling the evolution of gene therapy want to gobble up as much cloud capacity as possible to help them decipher the hidden codes that operate the human race. And, they want to move as fast as they can to save as many lives as they can. Tapping into the excess capacity of cloud providers can supercharge their efforts.

Smart cloud providers don’t want excess cloud capacity lying around. Obviously, they want as much utilization of their service as possible to maximize their profit potential. To encourage usage, savvy providers offer significantly discounted rates to coincide with dips in usage where possible. For cloud customers, it’s like paying a fraction of what you normally pay for gas when driving on the freeway at night when no else is on the road.

The underground cloud—as I like to refer to it—is similar to a stock exchange. Cloud customers bid on available discounted cloud capacity. But, taking advantage of all the benefits of this emerging service isn’t as simple as placing a trade with a broker.

First of all, you need to understand the intricacies of when to buy and how to spread data across servers to get the best deals and fastest speeds. There’s also the option to purchase discounted capacity to save for future use. Navigating the cloud’s underground also entails the re-architecture of your applications and systems. That’s not as much of a problem if you’re starting from scratch. But, if you’re working with a legacy system, be prepared to spend time and money readying your systems.

The good news is the customers see a return on their investment. Cloud customers can experience a 90% decrease in cloud costs when they tread where most others don’t know to go. For example, one of my clients uses the cloud to process their sales data at the end of the day. It would normally take eight hours and cost $1.1 million per year or $3,000 per day. By taking advantage of down cloud times and fast processing speeds, we cut the cost to $5-6 per day. It goes without saying that the $300,000 investment to outfit their system was well worth it.

This excess cloud capacity service is limited in the marketplace right now, but other providers are catching up and as they do, more companies will get wise to this new game. Right now some consider the underground cloud the best-kept secret in cloud computing.

If you want “in” the underground cloud computing club, you should get started by reviewing the documentation of your cloud provider on how to maximize the value from their services, including perusing the pricing strategies and FAQs that top cloud providers share on their sites. You can also engage with other cloud customers to learn from their experiences. It certainly helps to have someone well versed in how to take advantage of this emerging service offering.

Are you in the underground cloud club?




Chris Curran

Principal and Chief Technologist, PwC US Tel: +1 (214) 754 5055 Email

Vicki Huff Eckert

Global New Business & Innovation Leader Tel: +1 (650) 387 4956 Email

Mark McCaffery

US Technology, Media and Telecommunications (TMT) Leader Tel: +1 (408) 817 4199 Email