Saturday, August 11, 2012

Cloud Vendor Expansion

After taking a much needed vacation I thought I would post an update to catch up on some notable events.  Although Google has been in the cloud business as a “software as a service” (SaaS) provider with their office productivity apps, and a “platform as a service” (PaaS) provider with Google App Engine, they entered the infrastructure as a service (IaaS) field in June, firing a shot over the bow of Amazon, who for the most part is way ahead of everyone in experience and number of products.  HP announced their cloud offering as did Oracle.  All of the new entrants were at limited release status when they made these announcements.

Google’s offering (in limited preview) is called “Google Compute Engine”.  Google is differentiated from Amazon’s elastic compute service in that it’s aimed at potential clients that need to quickly allocate thousands of cores to quickly achieve supercomputer capabilities and then release that capacity.  Clearly the focus is on customers who have very high workloads.  Initially Google will sell direct and will migrate to more of an on-demand service via credit card much like Amazon’s AWS.  The breadth of Google’s offering doesn’t come close to AWS but I expect that they will continue to build it out their portfolio in this area.  Personally I’d be tentative about partnering with Google too early in a way that would expect longevity.  Past behavior shows that if sales don’t meet expectations they will quickly pull the plug.  

HP’s cloud offering will initially contain compute, storage, identity and MySQL database to start and grow from there.  From what I understand it’s based on OpenStack.  I think this is the right play for HP and they should focus on this for the company’s future.  As a cloud infrastructure provider, this offering, combined with software and services, may be the best play for a company that continues to see tough times and stalled growth.  This could positioned HP to help companies that aren’t ready for the cloud but don’t want to be left out of the future.  HP could help a customer build a private on-premise or hosted cloud and migrate to the HP shared/hosted cloud in the future.  I think it’s a strong story for HP because many CIOs are very cautious of public cloud offering but don’t want to be left out of the party.  By using OpenStack, a company could deploy a private cloud and then go to a public partner like that uses OpenStack in the future with less migration costs because of the continuity of technology.  If they are an HP customer, they can stay with a vendor they trust by going to HP’s cloud.  In addition, if a company already has a relationship with HP, they are more likely to use HP’s public offering for extra capacity during peak times, or use their public cloud for quick setup of development environments or QC environments.  I expect HP to expand their offering to corporate customers (like AWS is doing today for the small and medium customer) and focus on the one thing that scares CIOs the most, security.  Like Google and other entrants to the cloud hosting business, they will have to drive like mad to offer the same number of services that AWS has today and to make matters worse, they will have to outpace AWS in their monthly release cycle.

I’m the least excited by Oracle’s announcement.  I think some of their offering is “me too” and possibly a desperate move.  If you’re a big Oracle software customer it might make sense.  If you like lock-in, this is probably the vendor for you.  

I’ve written before that I think we are at the beginning of “hockey stick growth” in cloud computing. This may be yet another indicator.  Having more capacity will certainly enable that growth.  The credentials that these vendors bring may also bolster confidence in the cloud.  With HP’s focus on security as a differentiator and the fact that they are a major infrastructure provider may convince many of their customers to try the cloud.  With HP’s focus on security, it may stimulate further R&D into viable methods to improve security in the cloud.  I’m looking forward to seeing who’s going to be the innovator of cloud services.  Where will that come from?

References & Related

- Chris Claborne

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