German start-up Zimory has launched what it calls the first 'global marketplace for cloud resources' to enable organisations to buy or sell extra computing capacity, without the hefty financial commitment of acquiring new data centre capacity.

Zimory Public Cloud is effectively an online marketplace, where buyers and sellers of computing resources are brought together. According to the Berlin-based company, Zimory Public Cloud offers organisations "instant access to external computing power worldwide, while also enabling businesses with excess server capacity to offer their resources to businesses around the world."

"The initial idea was to take resources when they are not used, and aggregate them to new tasks, where it doesn't matter if they are from different providers," said CEO Dr Behrend Freese. Companies therefore with an excess of server capacity can offer it worldwide through the trading platform. But companies in need of extra computing capacity can also buy capacity, as needed, without a long-term contractual commitment. Zimory handles the pricing, contracts, security, virtual machine migration and billing.

"Big enterprises have huge problems on the infrastructure cost sides, where they have under-utilised capacity, and they don't have many choices to save money in the data centre," Dr Freese told Techworld.

"This offering helps them to monetise their infrastructure, and the service is a hop on and hop off approach for resources."

Indeed, Zimory says that creating a Zimory Public Cloud account ‘is no more difficult than creating a Gmail account'. Once an account is created, the user selects an operating system or a complete appliance. Zimory lets them select from a range of appliances from a simple Linux or Windows image to fully-configured application stack, i.e. a Wiki, a CMS system or a LAMP stack.

Zimory also allows users to see, evaluate and select their partner, based on their individual and personal requirements. For example, they can select the geographical location of the physical data centre, its certifications or security ratings, plus the quality of the service (i.e. Bronze, Silver and Gold SLAs). This selection can be changed with no lock-in.

To finish the setup, users simply press start and the computing resource is apparently ready in a matter of minutes. "You just create a virtual machine on the infrastructure, and any bottleneck is usually your connectivity," said Dr Freese.

Zimory employs 50 people and is "still hiring". The company itself is a spin-off of Deutsche Telekom Laboratories (a German equivalent of Xerox Parc).

Two months ago it launched Zimory Enterprise Cloud, which combines existing different virtual servers into a homogeneous computing cloud. This allows data centre managers to easily move applications, within a single or multiple locations.

Zimory's offering depends heavily on virtualisation technologies, and can deploy its small footprint agent onto hosts not running virtualisation technologies. "We support well known brands of virtualisation such as Zen, VMware, KVM, and will support Hyper-V and Parallels as well," said Dr Freese. But he does not see Zimory as being in competition with existing cloud vendors such as IBM's Computing on Demand services, Amazon EC2, EMC's Maui, or Sun's Grid.

"We can connect to other cloud vendors such as Amazon's EC2 cloud," he said. "We see Amazon and IBM as providers, not competition."

According to Dr Freese, 150 companies have so far tested the Public Cloud, and "we are talking to a dozen or so large DC providers for the Enterprise Cloud."

There is no word on exact pricing yet, with the company expected to release SLA pricing next week. "Those requiring strong SLAs opt for the gold standard, which is certainly expensive, but if price is an issue, then users will opt for bronze, but the security and SLA is not as strong," said Dr Freese. "Bronze will cost a little bit higher than Amazon's cloud, but the silver and gold SLAs is going to be a good bit above."