Containers Expo Blog Authors: Liz McMillan, Pat Romanski, Sematext Blog, David Sprott, Don MacVittie

Related Topics: @CloudExpo, Microservices Expo, Microsoft Cloud, Containers Expo Blog, Apache, Cloud Security

@CloudExpo: Article

Cloud Benefits: The Opex / Capex Benefit Debate

The bottom line is that CAPEX to OPEX shift should rarely be the deciding factor in a systems selection.

With the cloud space getting crowded each day, cloud service providers list a host of benefits by moving to the ‘Pay as you Go' model.... Among other benefits, reduced capital expenses (fixed Capex costs), and increased operating expenses (variable Opex costs) is listed as a key benefit.

The article attempts to analyze this.

In general, from an accounting perspective, by shifting from a capex to opex based model, the benefits can be many. Some of these could be:

  • Use of Opex allows deducting expense in the current year and reduces tax liability applied on net income.
  • Opex benefits due to time value of money (100 $$ saved today is better than 100 $$ saved next year)
  • No upfront capex expenditure if cost of capital is high and /or capital is not available
  • By civerting  capex to opex, the capital saved can be used elsewhere giving a better yield.

All points taken, if you ask a accountant, he would say that it's just accounting mechanics... He will also list down couple of points that go against this and as one can notice most of the cloud vendors do not mention this.

  • Opex decreases the company's book value as the expense moves to profit & loss statement hitting the bottom line.
  • Opex decreases the company's EBITDA.
  • Cost of On-demand services is always high as they carry a  utility premium. Think of renting a car vs. a buying a car. By renting a service, you are in a way borrowing money from the service provider, and paying the loan back to them in monthly payments.
  • P&L, Balancesheet and cash flow statement looks less attractive. More often than not, the real tangible benefits of moving from capex to opex are governed by other technical / business factors .

Capex to opex movement is just an accounting measure and often tactical. It may well serve some short term financial objectives that the company needs but it is hard to prove that this is indeed true in the long run.

What Is Better: Capex or Opex
Should one really care about the opex and capex debate and what should be the choice? Or this is contextual. Often, the reasons of moving from Capex to Opex could be very different and purely financial. For e.g:

  1. Shortage / Availability of capital
  2. High cost of capital
  3. Overall economic environment which impact investment decisions.
  4. Better use of available capital
  5. Benefits from alternate capex investment outweighs the higher cost of ‘pay as you go service' in the long run.

The objectives could be the other way around also (Reduce Opex and increase Capex), for e.g,:

  • To boost profits (artificially, some may say) to report to investors and increase shareholder value
  • A higher value of assets on its balance sheet
  • Cost of capital is cheap and readily available.
  • No better use of capital What this means is that the movement of capex to opex or vise versa is highly contextual.

It may all sound good due to current economic environment and capital constraints but may  not hold good in all cases and in the long run

The Real Benefits
The real benefit must be seen from both Financial as well as business / technical objectives. Once the business / technical objectives are ascertained, the appropriate financial treatment (capex / opex) need to be done based on the objectives / constraints. For example, the financial needs of a company could be:

  1. Optimizing capital investment due to shortage / Availability of capital
  2. Optimize overall Cost of Capital
  3. Workaround the difficult economic environment which impact investment decisions.
  4. Investment Options at hand
  5. ROI
  6. Better profit reporting to investors and increase shareholder value
  7. Higher value of assets on balance sheet
  8. Better Cash flow management The financial objective may be tactical in many cases and may change over a course of time.

That said, the real reasons behind a ‘pay as you go' model or so called ‘opex' model, may be unrelated to the financial context with very different objectives (Often business driven). These could be:

Better Utilization Rates
Here is where the real benefits of shared services come into play.  If a company is using less than 30% of installed capacity, ‘pay as you go' model can give significant cost benefits. If it is already using more than 70 %, the benefits may not be that high as utility services come at a premium as compared to owned service for obvious reasons..

  • Operational advantages
  • Service level improvements
  • User satisfaction considerations
  • Keeping pace with the technology upgrades

Due to the rapid changes in technology,  it doesn't make sense to sink or locking money into equipment that's surpassed by the very next model. Opex in the form of pay as you go models help in this regard. Costs are reduced and shifted from capital expenses to operating expenses, which save money. The capital saved can be used elsewhere in more productive investments or reduce the cost of capital.

  • Better scalability, metering, automation and virtualization - all for less money than a traditional data center.

Bottom line is that CAPEX to OPEX shift should rarely be the deciding factor in a systems selection.

The choice architecture should be based upon meeting the business and technical requirements.

A company can choose to use a public shared cloud - on rent and hence opex based model OR go for a private cloud  - owned and capex OR an internal cloud (virtualized) that can satisfy all the business / technical requirements for the CIO while also meeting the financial objectives for the CFO.

It all depends on the context. A WIN-WIN situation for all is one that should be looked at.

Brief on Opex and Capex

Capital expenditures are expenses to create assets (or add value to an existing asset) for future benefts with a life that extends beyond the tax year.

  • Cannot be fully deducted in the period when they were incurred. Tangible assets (building) intangible assets ( h Money spent on inventory falls under capex ardware etc) are depreciated and intangible assets (patent etc) are amortized over time.
  • Money spent on inventory falls under capex
  • Show up in Balance Sheet and Cash Flow from Investing head in the Cash flow statement

Refers refers to expenses incurred in the course of ordinary business, such as sales, general and administrative expenses (and excluding COGS, taxes, depreciation and interest

  • Operating expenses are fully deducted in the accounting period during which they were incurred.
  • Show up in Profit and loss statement.
  • End up in Cash Flow from operating activities head in the Cash flow statement

More Stories By Sunil Pathak

Sunil has close to 16 years experience in Information Technology providing leadership, management, planning, system development and engineering, training, people development, methodologies, and process support. He has worked in the area of internet based technology solutions, ecommerce applications, product development, product maintenance, e-business platforms, portals, collaboration, content management, and business intelligence.

He currently works for Colt Technologies Services, Bangalore, India as Head of Systems Development and Support. Sunil holds an Executive MBA (IIM Calcutta), Masters in Technology (IIT Kanpur) and a Bachelor of Engineering in Electrical Engineering. He also holds diploma in entrepreneurship from EDI Ahmedabad. He can be reached at :
Linkedin - http://in.linkedin.com/pub/sunil-pathak/4/501/a9b
Twitter - @sunil__pathak

Disclaimer:The opinion expressed here are my own and not necessarily those of my employer.

@ThingsExpo Stories
WebRTC sits at the intersection between VoIP and the Web. As such, it poses some interesting challenges for those developing services on top of it, but also for those who need to test and monitor these services. In his session at WebRTC Summit, Tsahi Levent-Levi, co-founder of testRTC, reviewed the various challenges posed by WebRTC when it comes to testing and monitoring and on ways to overcome them.
The explosion of new web/cloud/IoT-based applications and the data they generate are transforming our world right before our eyes. In this rush to adopt these new technologies, organizations are often ignoring fundamental questions concerning who owns the data and failing to ask for permission to conduct invasive surveillance of their customers. Organizations that are not transparent about how their systems gather data telemetry without offering shared data ownership risk product rejection, regu...
Join IBM November 2 at 19th Cloud Expo at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, and learn how to go beyond multi-speed it to bring agility to traditional enterprise applications. Technology innovation is the driving force behind modern business and enterprises must respond by increasing the speed and efficiency of software delivery. The challenge is that existing enterprise applications are expensive to develop and difficult to modernize. This often results in what Gartner calls...
Bert Loomis was a visionary. This general session will highlight how Bert Loomis and people like him inspire us to build great things with small inventions. In their general session at 19th Cloud Expo, Harold Hannon, Architect at IBM Bluemix, and Michael O'Neill, Strategic Business Development at Nvidia, will discuss the accelerating pace of AI development and how IBM Cloud and NVIDIA are partnering to bring AI capabilities to "every day," on-demand. They will also review two "free infrastruct...
WebRTC defines no default signaling protocol, causing fragmentation between WebRTC silos. SIP and XMPP provide possibilities, but come with considerable complexity and are not designed for use in a web environment. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Matthew Hodgson, technical co-founder of the Matrix.org, discussed how Matrix is a new non-profit Open Source Project that defines both a new HTTP-based standard for VoIP & IM signaling and provides reference implementations.
Smart Cities are here to stay, but for their promise to be delivered, the data they produce must not be put in new siloes. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Mathias Herberts, Co-founder and CTO of Cityzen Data, will deep dive into best practices that will ensure a successful smart city journey.
November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Penta Security is a leading vendor for data security solutions, including its encryption solution, D’Amo. By using FPE technology, D’Amo allows for the implementation of encryption technology to sensitive data fields without modification to schema in the database environment. With businesses having their data become increasingly more complicated in their mission-critical applications (such as ERP, CRM, HRM), continued ...
Two weeks ago (November 3-5), I attended the Cloud Expo Silicon Valley as a speaker, where I presented on the security and privacy due diligence requirements for cloud solutions. Cloud security is a topical issue for every CIO, CISO, and technology buyer. Decision-makers are always looking for insights on how to mitigate the security risks of implementing and using cloud solutions. Based on the presentation topics covered at the conference, as well as the general discussions heard between sessi...
In his general session at 18th Cloud Expo, Lee Atchison, Principal Cloud Architect and Advocate at New Relic, discussed cloud as a ‘better data center’ and how it adds new capacity (faster) and improves application availability (redundancy). The cloud is a ‘Dynamic Tool for Dynamic Apps’ and resource allocation is an integral part of your application architecture, so use only the resources you need and allocate /de-allocate resources on the fly.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Cloudbric, a leading website security provider, will exhibit at the 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Cloudbric is an elite full service website protection solution specifically designed for IT novices, entrepreneurs, and small and medium businesses. First launched in 2015, Cloudbric is based on the enterprise level Web Application Firewall by Penta Security Sys...
Virgil consists of an open-source encryption library, which implements Cryptographic Message Syntax (CMS) and Elliptic Curve Integrated Encryption Scheme (ECIES) (including RSA schema), a Key Management API, and a cloud-based Key Management Service (Virgil Keys). The Virgil Keys Service consists of a public key service and a private key escrow service. 

Data is the fuel that drives the machine learning algorithmic engines and ultimately provides the business value. In his session at Cloud Expo, Ed Featherston, a director and senior enterprise architect at Collaborative Consulting, will discuss the key considerations around quality, volume, timeliness, and pedigree that must be dealt with in order to properly fuel that engine.
SYS-CON Events announced today that MathFreeOn will exhibit at the 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. MathFreeOn is Software as a Service (SaaS) used in Engineering and Math education. Write scripts and solve math problems online. MathFreeOn provides online courses for beginners or amateurs who have difficulties in writing scripts. In accordance with various mathematical topics, there are more tha...
In an era of historic innovation fueled by unprecedented access to data and technology, the low cost and risk of entering new markets has leveled the playing field for business. Today, any ambitious innovator can easily introduce a new application or product that can reinvent business models and transform the client experience. In their Day 2 Keynote at 19th Cloud Expo, Mercer Rowe, IBM Vice President of Strategic Alliances, and Raejeanne Skillern, Intel Vice President of Data Center Group and ...
The best way to leverage your Cloud Expo presence as a sponsor and exhibitor is to plan your news announcements around our events. The press covering Cloud Expo and @ThingsExpo will have access to these releases and will amplify your news announcements. More than two dozen Cloud companies either set deals at our shows or have announced their mergers and acquisitions at Cloud Expo. Product announcements during our show provide your company with the most reach through our targeted audiences.
@ThingsExpo has been named the Top 5 Most Influential Internet of Things Brand by Onalytica in the ‘The Internet of Things Landscape 2015: Top 100 Individuals and Brands.' Onalytica analyzed Twitter conversations around the #IoT debate to uncover the most influential brands and individuals driving the conversation. Onalytica captured data from 56,224 users. The PageRank based methodology they use to extract influencers on a particular topic (tweets mentioning #InternetofThings or #IoT in this ...
There is growing need for data-driven applications and the need for digital platforms to build these apps. In his session at 19th Cloud Expo, Muddu Sudhakar, VP and GM of Security & IoT at Splunk, will cover different PaaS solutions and Big Data platforms that are available to build applications. In addition, AI and machine learning are creating new requirements that developers need in the building of next-gen apps. The next-generation digital platforms have some of the past platform needs a...
"We've discovered that after shows 80% if leads that people get, 80% of the conversations end up on the show floor, meaning people forget about it, people forget who they talk to, people forget that there are actual business opportunities to be had here so we try to help out and keep the conversations going," explained Jeff Mesnik, Founder and President of ContentMX, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 18th Cloud Expo, held June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
Intelligent machines are here. Robots, self-driving cars, drones, bots and many IoT devices are becoming smarter with Machine Learning. In her session at @ThingsExpo, Sudha Jamthe, CEO of IoTDisruptions.com, will discuss the next wave of business disruption at the junction of IoT and AI, impacting many industries and set to change our lives, work and world as we know it.
More and more brands have jumped on the IoT bandwagon. We have an excess of wearables – activity trackers, smartwatches, smart glasses and sneakers, and more that track seemingly endless datapoints. However, most consumers have no idea what “IoT” means. Creating more wearables that track data shouldn't be the aim of brands; delivering meaningful, tangible relevance to their users should be. We're in a period in which the IoT pendulum is still swinging. Initially, it swung toward "smart for smar...