Related Topics: @CloudExpo, Java IoT, Linux Containers, @BigDataExpo, SDN Journal

@CloudExpo: Blog Post

Cloud Wars – How Many 800lb Gorillas Can Fit in the Room?

In their latest magic quadrant report on IaaS, Gartner describes the market as still evolving and maturing

There is a common phrase, often attributed as a Chinese proverb/curse, "May you live in interesting times." For those following the cloud technology space, we are definitely living in interesting times. In their latest magic quadrant report on IaaS, Gartner describes the market as still evolving and maturing. This would imply the market leadership is in flux, yet according to Gartner "AWS is the overwhelming market share leader, with more than five times the compute capacity in use than the aggregate total of the other fourteen providers in this Magic Quadrant." I would say that makes AWS an 800lb gorilla in the room that the competition must get by. Many of those competitors could be considered 800lb gorillas in their own right. Microsoft, IBM, Google are not small companies, yet AWS has managed to create a dominant position in the marketplace.

Can AWS maintain that dominance? Who among the other ‘gorillas' could potentially knock AWS from its perch?

The Big Public Cage Match, IBM vs Amazon
As one would expect, the original 800lb gorilla, IBM, wants to be the one to knock AWS from that perch. Early last year, Amazon beat out IBM for a lucrative four year $600M cloud contract with the CIA. IBM immediately filed a bid protest in February, which was partially upheld by the GAO in June (A Big Win for Big Blue). The battle between the two behemoths continued through the summer. IBM worked to strengthen its IaaS credentials with the acquisition of SoftLayer. In October, what appeared to be a successful bid protest by IBM was overturned by the US Court of Federal claims, and IBM withdrew its injunctive action (IBM Steps back from CIA deal). The battle continued in November when IBM started a significant ad campaign, claiming it held a larger cloud business than Amazon. This blitz included running ads on buses in Las Vegas during Amazon's premier re:Invent conference. In January of this year, IBM committed to a 1.2B investment to expand their global cloud footprint.

The battle has created very diverse views in the industry as to who will finally win. Rob Enderle wrote a very compelling piece on why IBM will win the war with Amazon Web Services. He points out in their over 100-year history, IBM has battled many other disruptive competitors - a fact I am well aware of, being a former employee of Digital Equipment Corporation. Digital (DEC) rose in the '60s, disrupting the mainframe computing industry with a disruptive concept, the mini-computer. DEC eventually rose to being the number two computer manufacturer in the world (behind IBM). DEC is now a fond memory as it was since acquired by Compaq (a PC manufacturer) who was later acquired by Hewlett-Packard. IBM putting you in their sights is not to be taken lightly.

On the flip side, a very good counter argument to that viewpoint was written by David Linthicum, in his article Amazon Web Services has no reason to worry about IBM. One of the key points David makes is the argument that IBM will have difficulty adjusting to selling the cloud service model. He points out "the more cloud services that IBM sells, the less money it will make." In essence, it will displace existing IBM hardware and software with its own "public cloud offering." Add into this viewpoint, IBM doesn't always win. When Oracle first came on the scene, it disrupted the database world, and IBM came out guns a blazing. Oracle has not gone anywhere.

What About the Other Gorillas?
With all the coverage the IBM/AWS cage match has gotten this year, sometimes it's easy to forget there are other significant players in this marketplace. These players are not sitting back and waiting for the results of the IBM / AWS battle. Gartner analyst Lydia Long, in Where are the challengers to AWS?, states: "I think there's a critical shift happening in the market right now. Three very dangerous competitors are just now entering the market - Microsoft, Google and VMware. I think the real war for market share is just beginning." Forrester echoes a similar viewpoint. When viewing the market through a lens of the services provided (compute, RDBMS, storage), Forrester analyst Jeffery Hammond sees Microsoft and Google making strong inroads in the RDBMS and storage services space. As with IBM, Microsoft and Google have deep pockets to compete in this space and are not going to give up without a fight. What I find telling is that both these analysts did not even mention IBM vs. AWS, which has been getting the majority of the public attention. Google just announced a partner program that includes three tiers of third-party vendors providing technical and consulting services for Google's cloud platform.

Verizon Joins the Battle
Last October Verizon announced a new cloud offering built from the ground up to compete with AWS and the other IaaS vendors. This offering is different from their existing Verizon / Terramark cloud offering. The new offering is based on technology from CloudSwitch, a company Verizon acquired a little over two years ago. Verizon hopes to differentiate their offering by allowing the client to define specific performance capabilities around compute, I/O, memory and storage. Verizon states their technology allows them to avoid the ‘noisy neighbor' problem seen from other vendors, a not so subtle swipe at AWS.

In January Verizon announced a partnership with Oracle for their cloud environment. "Beginning in the first quarter of 2014, Oracle customers will be able to license Oracle Database 11g and 12C, Oracle Fusion Middleware and Oracle Enterprise Manager to run in Verizon's Managed Hosting and Enterprise Cloud virtual infrastructures, according to a Verizon document that details the Oracle partnership." While AWS does provide the ability to use Oracle 11g in their environment, the addition of the middleware components could be a key differentiator for Verizon.

This by itself is not a game changer, but is a sign that Verizon is serious about competing in this space. Verizon has its sights squarely in AWS's corner. In its announcement Verizon noted that it will continue to expand partnerships and the ecosystem around its cloud offerings. It quickly demonstrated that was just the first salvo. Verizon announced this week that it is extending its partnerships with CloudBees and CloudFoundry, including committing a monetary investment in CloudBees through its venture arm.

Net Neutrality, Could It Be a Game Changer?
In 2010 the FCC adopted the Preserving the Open Internet, Broadband Industry Practices as a means to enforce the concept of net neutrality on the Internet. This was in response to the practice of a variety of broadband providers (including Comcast and Verizon) that were throttling bandwidth usage based on the source. Some of these sources could have been considered competitors. The FCC net neutrality rule had three key components:

  • Transparency - providers must disclose network management and performance information
  • No Blocking - providers may not block lawful content and services
  • No Unreasonable Discrimination - providers may not unreasonably discriminate in transmitting lawful traffic

Now the federal appeals court has struck down that rule. The suit was brought by Verizon. It immediately raised a question in my mind. Does this mean Verizon, in theory, could throttle access to public cloud providers (such as AWS), and provide better access to their own public cloud services? Imagine the impact that could have on the marketplace. Verizon could effectively lock the other gorillas in a room and start their own room.

Will this happen? Not overnight, that's for sure. The FCC has already said they would appeal the decision. Additionally the court did give the FCC some wiggle room in modifying the rule in a way that would pass the courts muster. The battle over net neutrality is far from over, but how it finally gets resolved could have long-term impact for us and the public cloud providers.

Who Will Still Be Standing in Two Years?
One thing that is clear, the market is still in flux. Gartner predicts that one in four cloud providers will be gone by 2015. IBM has already demonstrated the consolidation direction with their purchase of SoftLayer. Concerns about the risk of a cloud provider still being around could start creating a self-fulfilling prophecy for the smaller vendors. The failure of cloud storage provider Nirvanix last year has put this concern at the forefront for many buyers. If the small vendors become acquired, or forced out of business over the next two years, we could easily end up with a room full of just the 800lb gorillas as the market shakes out. The question will then become, how many of these 800lb gorillas can we fit in the room?

More Stories By Ed Featherston

Ed Featherston is a director/senior enterprise architect at Collaborative Consulting. He brings 35 years of technology experience in designing, building, and implementing large complex solutions. He has significant expertise in systems integration, Internet/intranet, and cloud technologies. He has delivered projects in various industries, including financial services, pharmacy, government and retail.

Comments (0)

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.

Latest Stories
Without lifecycle traceability and visibility across the tool chain, stakeholders from Planning-to-Ops have limited insight and answers to who, what, when, why and how across the DevOps lifecycle. This impacts the ability to deliver high quality software at the needed velocity to drive positive business outcomes. In his general session at @DevOpsSummit at 19th Cloud Expo, Eric Robertson, General Manager at CollabNet, will discuss how customers are able to achieve a level of transparency that e...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Cemware 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. Use MATLAB functions by just visiting website mathfreeon.com. MATLAB compatible, freely usable, online platform services. As of October 2016, 80,000 users from 180 countries are enjoying our platform service.
For basic one-to-one voice or video calling solutions, WebRTC has proven to be a very powerful technology. Although WebRTC’s core functionality is to provide secure, real-time p2p media streaming, leveraging native platform features and server-side components brings up new communication capabilities for web and native mobile applications, allowing for advanced multi-user use cases such as video broadcasting, conferencing, and media recording.
The Internet of Things (IoT), in all its myriad manifestations, has great potential. Much of that potential comes from the evolving data management and analytic (DMA) technologies and processes that allow us to gain insight from all of the IoT data that can be generated and gathered. This potential may never be met as those data sets are tied to specific industry verticals and single markets, with no clear way to use IoT data and sensor analytics to fulfill the hype being given the IoT today.
Established in 1998, Calsoft is a leading software product engineering Services Company specializing in Storage, Networking, Virtualization and Cloud business verticals. Calsoft provides End-to-End Product Development, Quality Assurance Sustenance, Solution Engineering and Professional Services expertise to assist customers in achieving their product development and business goals. The company's deep domain knowledge of Storage, Virtualization, Networking and Cloud verticals helps in delivering ...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Enzu 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. Enzu’s mission is to be the leading provider of enterprise cloud solutions worldwide. Enzu enables online businesses to use its IT infrastructure to their competitive advantage. By offering a suite of proven hosting and management services, Enzu wants companies to focus on the core of their online busine...
In the next five to ten years, millions, if not billions of things will become smarter. This smartness goes beyond connected things in our homes like the fridge, thermostat and fancy lighting, and into heavily regulated industries including aerospace, pharmaceutical/medical devices and energy. “Smartness” will embed itself within individual products that are part of our daily lives. We will engage with smart products - learning from them, informing them, and communicating with them. Smart produc...
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 ...
OnProcess Technology has announced it will be a featured speaker at @ThingsExpo, taking place November 1 - 3, 2016, in Santa Clara, California. Dan Gettens, OnProcess’ Chief Analytics Officer, will discuss how Internet of Things (IoT) data can be leveraged to predict product failures, improve uptime and slash costly inventory stock. @ThingsExpo is an annual gathering of IoT and cloud developers, practitioners and thought-leaders who exchange ideas and insights on topics ranging from Big Data in...
SYS-CON Events announced today that SoftNet Solutions 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. SoftNet Solutions specializes in Enterprise Solutions for Hadoop and Big Data. It offers customers the most open, robust, and value-conscious portfolio of solutions, services, and tools for the shortest route to success with Big Data. The unique differentiator is the ability to architect and ...
Join Impiger for their featured webinar: ‘Cloud Computing: A Roadmap to Modern Software Delivery’ on November 10, 2016, at 12:00 pm CST. Very few companies have not experienced some impact to their IT delivery due to the evolution of cloud computing. This webinar is not about deciding whether you should entertain moving some or all of your IT to the cloud, but rather, a detailed look under the hood to help IT professionals understand how cloud adoption has evolved and what trends will impact th...
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...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Transparent Cloud Computing (T-Cloud) Consortium 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. The Transparent Cloud Computing Consortium (T-Cloud Consortium) will conduct research activities into changes in the computing model as a result of collaboration between "device" and "cloud" and the creation of new value and markets through organic data proces...
In his session at 19th Cloud Expo, Nick Son, Vice President of Cyber Risk & Public Sector at Coalfire, will discuss the latest information on the FedRAMP Program. Topics will cover: FedRAMP Readiness Assessment Report (RAR). This new process is designed to streamline and accelerate the FedRAMP process from the traditional timeline by initially focusing on technical capability instead of documentation preparedness. FedRAMP for High-impact level systems. Early in 2016 FedRAMP officially publishe...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Roundee / LinearHub will exhibit at the WebRTC Summit at @ThingsExpo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. LinearHub provides Roundee Service, a smart platform for enterprise video conferencing with enhanced features such as automatic recording and transcription service. Slack users can integrate Roundee to their team via Slack’s App Directory, and '/roundee' command lets your video conference ...