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Cloud Players Collaborate: Shared Computing Comes of Age

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It’s apparent that the cloud is coming of age, since major infrastructure providers are increasingly collaborating on important things like network sharing to lower customer cost and increase customer choice.

So content distribution network CDN Cloudflare, which garnered experience through its Interconnect partnership with Alphabet’s (GOOGL - Free Report) Google Cloud, has gone a step further to take the concept to a broader group of providers including Microsoft (MSFT - Free Report) Azure, IBM (IBM - Free Report) Cloud, Automattic, Backblaze, DigitalOcean, DreamHost, linode, packet, Scaleway and Vapor through what it calls the Bandwidth Alliance.

To understand the benefit, we need to understand the problem first: infrastructure providers typically don’t charge for data coming to them but only for data that leaves their infrastructure, so customers that have committed more money to a particular provider find it almost impossible to leave. This helps providers to grow their customer base but limits what customers can do with their data.

This wasn’t much of a problem while most of the work continued to be done onsite and providers continued to add to their offerings. But with the cloud growing rapidly in the last few years, providers are likely recognizing the fact that they can increase efficiency and conserve resources by sticking with their core competence and allowing customers to find other providers for their other needs.

Naturally, in order for this to happen, data needs to be able to move freely across host systems, which isn’t possible if the customer is charged every time. So cloud players are in effect agreeing not to charge customers repeatedly when it isn’t required by signing a pact with their CDN partner, which will facilitate the movement.  

In Google’s case, the arrangement resulted in a 75% reduction in bandwidth or egress fees for customers when traffic was offloaded to Cloudflare’s private network interface (PNI) and directed by its router system. Microsoft recently started a similar arrangement with Cloudflare, but unlike Google, it went ahead with the Bandwidth Alliance as well. Amazon’s (AMZN - Free Report) AWS isn’t part of the deal either, but the company may join in later.

This is one of several data sharing deals announced recently, the other two being between Microsoft, SAP and Adobe (ADBE - Free Report) and between Salesforce (CRM - Free Report) and AWS (actually an expansion of their earlier arrangement).

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