The Chicago Mercantile Exchange, CME, today announced its involvement with the 6fusion IaaS Marketplace. CMEgroup would be participating in the development of this proto-financial exchange for IaaS resources alongside other market participants including cloud providers, sophisticated end-users and financial cloud brokers such as Strategic Blue.

So firstly, who is the CMEgroup? Well, they are a merger of the CME and CBOT which started out in Chicago in 1848 as the Chicago Board of Trade, creating the world’s first futures exchange to trade grain for future delivery at a preagreed price. CME was the first to launch the first futures contract on frozen pork bellies in 1961. The CME and CBOT continued to innovate with world-first traded products, including live cattle in 1964, Eurodollars in 1981, the S&P500 Index in 1982 and in 1999 weather derivative contracts. CME merged with CBOT in 2007 and then bought the New York Mercantile Exchange, NYMEX in 2008, to add energy and metal futures contracts.

It is interesting to look at some of the more bizarre “commodities” that are traded on the CME, as there is often confusion as to whether you can trade something which is obviously not standardized (as is the case for cloud computing and other forms of IaaS). “Random Length Lumber”, which started trading in 1969 even spells out in its name that it is not standardized, and yet it trades as a commodity. Similarly “High Grade Copper” and when you think about it “Gold” require a definition of their quality in order to be traded, just think about how jewelers emphasis 24 carats when you buy a gold ring.

So maybe the idea of trading Infrastructure as a Service is not so bizarre, but is the market size for IaaS big enough? Let’s assume the size of the retail IaaS market is $8billion at the moment. Which commodities that trade on the CME today have a smaller market size, according to JPMorgan estimates, than if the entire retail market passed just once through an exchange? Oats, Rough Rice, Ethanol, 5,000 oz Silver, 100 oz Gold, Lean Hogs, Nonfat Dry Milk, Class III & Class IV Milk, Cash Butter, Feeder Cattle, Random Length Lumber, Wheat, Spring Wheat, Coffee “C”, Cocoa, Cotton, Frozen Orange Juice, Palladium and Platinum.

So let’s not get carried away, the IaaS market is not the size of the $48billion corn market, the $85billion 100oz Gold market or the $124 billion crude oil market, but it is already large enough to get the attention of the world’s largest group of Financial Exchanges.

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