What drives companies to DigitalRibbon
DigitalRibbon's Weaver said his company's differentiator is its electronic marketplace business model. "Anybody can list their resources," he said. "We're growing exponentially in the fact that we are becoming more accepted by the community. We're developing how the system is going to roll out, but it will be an eBay model, a cogeneration model where if someone's built a supercomputer and they only need it five or seven days a month and they have the rest of the month free, now they can put it on [DigitalRibbon] and sell that extra capacity."He said economics is driving customers' decisions to turn to DigitalRibbon or one of its competitors for on-demand computing power rather than utilize what's on hand or buy their own. "The resources we are dealing with are enormous," Weaver said. "It wouldn't be fiscally worth it for MTV to go out and build a $250 million cluster or spend millions to get a 1-gig connection to do a test like this. Then what would they do with the resources? They wouldn't be interested in owning and maintaining it." He said the company's contracts are typically three weeks to three months long. While the company can do longer contracts-it has access to 10 million computing hours per month, or about 300,000 hours per day or 13,000 hours per hour-longer-term contracts would require a cost/benefit analysis. DigitalRibbon is focusing on three core vertical markets as it builds its platform: animation and gaming development, biomedical research development, and gas and oil. "We're trying to be a supplier of suppliers," Weaver said. "Eventually one of my big goals is to underpin Sun's Network.com. If they get a sudden fluctuation in their environment we want to be there. I know their long-term goals are to get off their own computers-there are major spikes and you have to mitigate the ups and downs if you want to."
Weaver said DigitalRibbon's customers normally are companies with a problem and no idea where to turn. In one project, DigitalRibbon sold 10,000 core hours to MTV, which needed bandwidth to stress-test its data facility for its Rock Band video game, for about $2.80 an hour. The price tag included consulting fees. "We do a lot of hand-holding," Weaver said.