Welcome!

Apache Authors: Elizabeth White, Pat Romanski, Liz McMillan, Christopher Harrold, Janakiram MSV

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

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


Opex
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.

IoT & Smart Cities Stories
We are seeing a major migration of enterprises applications to the cloud. As cloud and business use of real time applications accelerate, legacy networks are no longer able to architecturally support cloud adoption and deliver the performance and security required by highly distributed enterprises. These outdated solutions have become more costly and complicated to implement, install, manage, and maintain.SD-WAN offers unlimited capabilities for accessing the benefits of the cloud and Internet. ...
Discussions of cloud computing have evolved in recent years from a focus on specific types of cloud, to a world of hybrid cloud, and to a world dominated by the APIs that make today's multi-cloud environments and hybrid clouds possible. In this Power Panel at 17th Cloud Expo, moderated by Conference Chair Roger Strukhoff, panelists addressed the importance of customers being able to use the specific technologies they need, through environments and ecosystems that expose their APIs to make true ...
Business professionals no longer wonder if they'll migrate to the cloud; it's now a matter of when. The cloud environment has proved to be a major force in transitioning to an agile business model that enables quick decisions and fast implementation that solidify customer relationships. And when the cloud is combined with the power of cognitive computing, it drives innovation and transformation that achieves astounding competitive advantage.
DXWorldEXPO LLC announced today that "IoT Now" was named media sponsor of CloudEXPO | DXWorldEXPO 2018 New York, which will take place on November 11-13, 2018 in New York City, NY. IoT Now explores the evolving opportunities and challenges facing CSPs, and it passes on some lessons learned from those who have taken the first steps in next-gen IoT services.
"Space Monkey by Vivent Smart Home is a product that is a distributed cloud-based edge storage network. Vivent Smart Home, our parent company, is a smart home provider that places a lot of hard drives across homes in North America," explained JT Olds, Director of Engineering, and Brandon Crowfeather, Product Manager, at Vivint Smart Home, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
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 G...
The current age of digital transformation means that IT organizations must adapt their toolset to cover all digital experiences, beyond just the end users’. Today’s businesses can no longer focus solely on the digital interactions they manage with employees or customers; they must now contend with non-traditional factors. Whether it's the power of brand to make or break a company, the need to monitor across all locations 24/7, or the ability to proactively resolve issues, companies must adapt to...
DXWorldEXPO LLC announced today that ICC-USA, a computer systems integrator and server manufacturing company focused on developing products and product appliances, will exhibit at the 22nd International CloudEXPO | DXWorldEXPO. DXWordEXPO New York 2018, colocated with CloudEXPO New York 2018 will be held November 11-13, 2018, in New York City. ICC is a computer systems integrator and server manufacturing company focused on developing products and product appliances to meet a wide range of ...
René Bostic is the Technical VP of the IBM Cloud Unit in North America. Enjoying her career with IBM during the modern millennial technological era, she is an expert in cloud computing, DevOps and emerging cloud technologies such as Blockchain. Her strengths and core competencies include a proven record of accomplishments in consensus building at all levels to assess, plan, and implement enterprise and cloud computing solutions. René is a member of the Society of Women Engineers (SWE) and a m...
DXWorldEXPO | CloudEXPO are the world's most influential, independent events where Cloud Computing was coined and where technology buyers and vendors meet to experience and discuss the big picture of Digital Transformation and all of the strategies, tactics, and tools they need to realize their goals. Sponsors of DXWorldEXPO | CloudEXPO benefit from unmatched branding, profile building and lead generation opportunities.