As already expected at the beginning of year 2011, world saw many transitions, transformations, and turnarounds in the cloud technologies from various vendors across the globe. A summarized report of all the predictions made by various analysts is available here.
And the list of most substantial players, as already mentioned in an earlier post, comes out to be as follows:
For the second year in a row, the king of cloud is still Amazon Web Services. No other company has come close to the cloud-based innovation AWS provides.
Even Eli Lilly taking some of its business elsewhere ended up doing AWS a favor. Since that debacle over SLAs, Amazon has stepped up its support and now offers a premium "white glove" service that routes your call to the nearest engineering specialist.
Charging into the number two position on our list is Verizon. The telco giant had previously built its own cloud; high-quality stuff but with a commensurate price. The Four Seasons of cloud, if you will: snooty service, small menu, long waits for a reservation and eye-watering bill. It was a test run, and apparently Verizon decided it needed some expertise instead of re-inventing the wheel.
Verizon then bought Terremark, much as you or I would buy a coffee and a bagel. Not only is Terremark one of the premier Tier 1 hosters in the world, it's also a cloud supplier to the coveted enterprise market, effectively moving Verizon into the top ranks.
Bigger than almost any competitor and with all the pipe in the world (literally), Verizon could be the King Kong of cloud. We’ll see if they can make it work or if Terremark Cloud is doomed for post-acquisition mishandling.
New to the list is IBM with its Smart Business Test and Development Cloud. While Big Blue might be lugging a hundred years of IT baggage, it has finally launched Infrastructure as a Service, although initially just for test and development purposes.
Despite its convoluted, muddled strategy in the cloud market, the Test and Dev service is winning enterprise business, which after all is IBM’s meat and potatoes. IBM reportedly earned $30 million in cloud revenue last year; few others have the scale of the enterprise user base to ramp up that fast.
Salesforce.com maintains a spot in the top five, thanks to its acquisition of Heroku. The company singlehandedly forced its way into the Platform as a Service market with this buy, and it will give them legs to hit customers not interested in the patented "Salesforce.com maximum lock-in" feature offered on Force.com and their CRM platform.
The Software as a Service market is rapidly coalescing into a mature, well-defined space; props to Salesforce.com for grabbing on to something that keeps it relevant going forward.
CSC, the IT integrator and service provider has cooked up an interesting private cloud service called BizCloud. The company will wheel VCE -- the giant cloud-in-a-box system from VMware, Cisco and EMC -- into your IT shop. Ten weeks later, it will be integrated into all your messy, legacy IT systems, turning on Infrastructure as a Service. CSC then manages your hardware; for extra capacity, you can hook into a public cloud service, also running on VCE.
CSC points to the trend of enterprises looking for practical ways to use (and get to) cloud computing; the company also performs massive-scale integrations with Google Apps and other Software as a Service players. As a bridge to the cloud for many enterprises, CSC is on the front lines and on our top 10 list.
Even though Rackspace fell in the ranks from last year's list, it's still the number two cloud provider after Amazon in terms of revenue. It might even be coming close in terms of its user base, a remarkable feat.
But aside from the feel-good soft launch of OpenStack last year, it's still business as usual. The company hasn't made any major renovations to the service, something that may change as Rackspace absorbs cloud management technology firm Cloudkick.
Since our initial list, Google App Engine has won lots of business among Web, gaming and mobile companies, but similarly has yet to make any impact among enterprise developers. We talked to the Google App Engine team recently and they are working on adding features, including an SLA and a hosted SQL service that Google hopes will attract the enterprise developer audience.
The company is also reportedly hiring 6,000 warm bodies in 2011, most likely to supply that crucial enterprise support Google has so notably lacked. Can’t win the cloud with foosball and beanbags, kids; put your big-boy clothes on and get ready for real customers. The race is on with Microsoft!
BlueLock is a small-scale provider that's been a key testbed for VMware’s vCloud Express. It even pioneered a tool to help customers get out of their ESX bubbles and mix in vCloud resources, something VMware hadn’t been able to do. BlueLock’s Indiana facilities should soon become a major local employer, as it's now a key VMware/VCE provider and likely to see continued growth.
Microsoft is on a bit of a downward spiral. While the software giant has made a song and dance about its Azure cloud service, claiming 31,000 companies are customers, we’ve yet to see any significant traction among enterprise IT developers. Web companies, mobile companies, tech and social networking firms use it, sure, but so far there’s no standout among traditional enterprises.
Meanwhile, Microsoft’s cloud business is in turmoil, as Steve Ballmer has purged many of the company's key leaders. Software architect Ray Ozzie is out. Bob Muglia and Amitabh Srivastava from Server and Tools (and Azure) have left. Dave Thompson (Office Online, Office 365) is gone.
Now at the helm is veteran Satya Nadella, who ran Microsoft’s unremarkable ERP and CRM efforts. These people didn’t fail -- they built everything Microsoft can legitimately call "cloud" -- but they’ve been cut loose before their work had a chance to prove itself.
We bumped a few other providers off the list due to lack of activity (business as usual doesn’t cut it). Joyent, however, kept a spot in the top 10 by releasing its platform software and forming a partnership with Dell to sell pre-configured cloud infrastructure packages.
It's a nice way to push the model -- use the Joyent service, or build your own if you like the technology but not the public option. This may be the direction the market is headed, as more and more businesses want to adopt cloud computing within their infrastructure.