Tuesday, April 6, 2021

Cloud Pricing: The Spot Market Strikes Back, by Dierks and Seuken in Management Science

 Sven Seuken writes:

"I just read your blog post about the new paper on economics of cloud computing, which is very interesting. Given that you highlighted the authors' thoughts on why auctions are not used in cloud computing markets, I thought you might be interested in a recent paper coming out of my group, which was just published at Management Science: https://pubsonline.informs.org/doi/10.1287/mnsc.2020.3907

"In our model, we assume that a cloud provider must *always* offer a standard, non-preemptible fixed-price market (because only this satisfies many customers' business needs, which is in line with the arguments that Hummel and Schwarz provide). But we show that a cloud provider can typically increase her profit and create a Pareto improvement for the users by *additionally* selling idle instances on a preemptible spot market (e.g., via an auction).

"Here's the paper and abstract:

Ludwig Dierks , Sven Seuken 
Published Online:25 Feb 2021 https://doi.org/10.1287/mnsc.2020.3907

Abstract: Cloud computing providers must constantly hold many idle compute instances available (e.g., for maintenance or for users with long-term contracts). A natural idea, which should intuitively increase the provider’s profit, is to sell these idle instances on a secondary market, for example, via a preemptible spot market. However, this ignores possible “market cannibalization” effects that may occur in equilibrium as well as the additional costs the provider experiences due to preemptions. To study the viability of offering a spot market, we model the provider’s profit optimization problem by combining queuing theory and game theory to analyze the equilibria of the resulting queuing system. Our main result is an easy-to-check condition under which a provider can simultaneously achieve a profit increase and create a Pareto improvement for the users by offering a spot market (using idle resources) alongside a fixed-price market. Finally, we illustrate our results numerically to demonstrate the effects that the provider’s costs and her strategy have on her profit.

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