Exchange traded cloud compute

Jon Masters
2 min readJan 18, 2021


WARNING: mentions a patent that I was recently granted

At the end of 2020, I received notice that a patent application I filed almost a decade ago (back in 2011) had been issued, on “Automated cost assessment of cloud computing resources”. The idea I had back then was that the first player to commoditize a “unit of compute” and figure out how to do exchange trading (including futures trading) would have a hugely disruptive edge.

The idea that occurred to me more than a decade ago was that the public cloud is actually extremely early in its journey. Today, there are several key players providing services, and they have tremendous power, but in the future, such services could become commoditized and the value would be in arbitraging those services (playing the cloud vendors off against each other).

Thus the value in the cloud of the future isn’t in providing the services themselves, but in providing the NYSE of cloud compute. The first player to provide this service will have a tremendous first mover advantage. What is needed is a standardized mechanism for trading cloud compute. Then, you will be able to trade based upon what it will cost to get a certain amount of work done when you need it, subject to whatever constraints you impose.

The rise of confidential computing was also something I foresaw as a key enabler of this progression. Technologies such as AMD’s SEV were obvious to me back then. In the future it will be possible to run workloads in geographic locations that are otherwise hostile (politically, or for other reasons) but that have cost advantages. It will also be key to determine when to migrate these workloads based upon the various attributes (e.g. security) of the workload.

It only took ten years for the USPTO to review what I filed, which is fair enough because it’s pretty all encompassing. But I like the outcome.