About a year ago, the company had announced a partnership with cloud services provider OVH to provide FPGA Acceleration-as-a-Service on the cloud, allowing users to operate pre-built FPGA accelerators, customize them or even create new ones using its QuickPlay/QuickStore solution. Now the company is refining its business model with the launch of the AccelStore, allowing end users to run FPGA-accelerated IP on a rental basis, either billed per the hour or per the number of Terabyte processed.
Stephane Monboisset, Vice President of Marketing and Partnerships for Accelize explained the business model change to eeNews Europe: “We realized over the last year that FPGA-as-a-service offered by cloud service providers was really far away from what end users wanted. Talking to our partners, we’ve been able to redefine what we think is a solution that will propagate much faster and to a broader user base”.
“We changed our offering. Our understanding over the past year is that it wasn’t what people wanted but merely what cloud service providers offered. What end users really want is acceleration-as-a-service”.
“For IP providers, it is still the early days of FPGA on the cloud and there is a significant opportunity to be seized, but for companies to join, you need some sort of carrot” continued Monboisset.
Accelize offers to host their IP in its AccelStore so they can sell it as an accelerator for cloud-based applications, through which end-users access the IP with minimal effort and only pay per usage. That means you don’t need to understand anything about FPGAs, and after all, why would you have to if what you only care about is to accelerate a function (such as online video compression or analytics).
People can then build on top of this IP to offer their own software-as-a-service, such as public accelerators to produce video online and online encryption. Accelize gives IP developers the technical tools to package their IP so it is plug&play with QuickPlay, it supports and manages the licensing and cloud hosting so end-users can access a vast IP library of accelerated functions through easy licensing terms. QuickPlay does all the plumbing to ensure that when someone plugs different IP, it works together.
With the AccelStore, the company wants to offer an aggregating hub for IP so any one can monetize it using FPGA acceleration, without necessarily being an FPGA expert to integrate the IP.
Monboisset sees the traditional IP business model as a roadblock to a broader adoption of IP acceleration in the cloud, with high IP licensing fees catering mostly to the ASIC market. He wants to convince IP vendors that there is more than ASICs and FPGA prototyping, they could monetize their IP by licensing it not just to a few tens of thousands hardware developers but also to the millions of software developers monetizing online applications.
That means educating the IP vendors and showing them other ways to bill for IP usage, not just a lump sum per design or royalties. Because Accelize can track the usage of every IP block within an FPGA, it can charge end-users for the IP usage per hour, per Tbit of processed data or in the case of video processing, per number of frames processed.
According to Monboisset, end users love it because they have a better visibility on what the acceleration service will cost them when they assemble an FPGA-accelerated application. Why would they pay FPGA-acceleration per hour if the IP they use is very efficient and fast? For FPGA-as-a-service cloud providers, reduced time usage means they can offer more services for the same FPGA infrastructure, and it also encourages IP providers to compete on speed and efficiency, what Monboisset likes to describe as a virtuous circle. Software developers have no upfront fee, they can start using any IP for their application and only get billed once the application starts being used (for which they get a revenue). Accelize manages the IP DRM and redistributes the revenues so everyone gets paid.
“We are the only one on the market to provide multiple accelerators from multiple partners and onto multiple cloud platform” Monboisset told eeNews Europe, unveiling its partners including Algodone, Advanced Logic Synthesis for Electronics (ALSE), Amazon Web Services (AWS), B<>COM, Bittware, CAST, Concurrent EDA, Enyx, Intel, Logic Fruit Technologies, Nagase, OVH, PathPartner, PLDA, Secure-IC, Silex Inside and Xilinx.
The AccelStore launch was officialised through a joint announcement with Accelize’s longtime partner and IP provider CAST Inc., offering hardware accelerated GZIP data compression on-demand.
“Accelize has made the promise of hardware-agnostic cloud-based accelerators really work,” said Nikos Zervas, chief executive officer for CAST in a joint statement. “We still of course offer reusable GZIP IP cores to conventional system and product developers, but now AccelStore gives CAST a new revenue stream by making accelerated GZIP compression easy to deploy and affordable to use on cloud servers.”
As another monetization example, encryption IP provider Secure-IC was quoted saying that providing a True Random Number Generator (TRNG) accelerator on the AccelStore enabled the company to reach a whole new group of cloud and enterprise users.
“As more and more secure transactions are processed through the cloud, there is an urgent need for more security solutions like ours. Our TRNG is a trusted, industry-compliant TRNG that allows very fast, secure transactions. By making it available on AccelStore, we are opening up access to this important functionality for a much wider range of customer” said Secure-IC’s CEO Hassan Triqui.
To conclude the interview, Monboisset was keen to highlight the need for evangelisation and that such an IP monetization approach would only propagate if one could entice software developers to evaluate the IP with the least effort. On its AccelStore platform, the company proposes a 5mn evaluation process based on a free AccelStore account (without entering any credit card details).
Monboisset anticipates that the next step in IP monetization will be the emergence of Function-as-a-service, where FPGA acceleration will operate transparently on top of the software offered as a service to enable new functions for cloud platforms.
Accelize – www.accelize.com