Chicago-based derivatives market CME has signed a non-binding letter of intent to work with IT capacity firm 6fusion on the construction of a platform to enable trading of infrastructure as a service (Iaas) compute capacity.

The cloud exchange will enable financial contracts based on 6fusion's Workload Allocation Cube (WAC) platform to be bought and sold on an open market. The WAC algorithm is used to meter utility IT consumption by combining resources attributes such as CPU, memory and storage usage into one measurement unit, allowing capacity costs be easily compared from one supplier to another.

Under the development plans, CME Group is to provide an electronic trading platform, with the WAC monitoring software be used to track the fulfilment of capacity bought on the exchange.

"6fusion has overcome the technical barriers to establishing compute as a tradeable commodity," said John Cowan, 6fusion CEO and co-founder. "Working with the world's leading and most diverse derivatives exchange, we are setting a course to develop a robust spot and over-the-counter (OTC) derivatives market for cloud computing based on 6fusion's innovation."

William Fellows, vice president of Cloudscape at 451 Research, said that the CME platform will open up the market for cloud brokers to trade resources.

"An IaaS exchange could unlock enormous potential for buyers, sellers, and brokers," he said. "The normalisation of supply and demand quantification performed by 6fusion combined with the trading execution venue provided by CME Group has the potential to seriously disrupt the market."

The announcement follows similar plans from Deutsche Bank to launch its own cloud compute exchange in 2014, supported by cloud management software provider Zimory.

Stefan Ried, principal analyst at Forrester Research's Business Technology Futures team, said that these exchanges will be of little immediate direct importance to enterprise customers.

"The marketplaces are complementing the upcoming cloud broker space more than a direct enterprise business. As long as there are not many brokers, marketplace volumes will remain small.

"I believe there will be only a few marketplaces - at the end only one major marketplace per major region," he added.